By Janet Kaback Newark, NJ, USA
When assigning projects and presentations, I first work with the classes in developing a rubric that will be used to grade their work. I tell the students that by doing this together, they will understand exactly what they need to do in order to 'select' their own grade. We begin by the lowest, "F" = No Project. From there, we move to the "A" category and the students must tell me exactly what they consider to be worth an A. The same procedure is followed for B, C, and D. Last year, the students requested that we add in A+, A-, B+, B-, etc. as they saw a difference between projects exhibiting "A+" and "A-" work.
This had developed into a very revealing lesson which permits the students to use higher order thinking and reasoning skills as they have to examine the grading system. When the projects come in, any identifying information must be on the reverse side, as I hold up the projects and the class must grade each, USING the rubric to justify the grade - with my guidance, naturally. They usually arrive at a very similar grade to one that I'd have assigned the project, after the first few.
In addition, we add provisions for the presentations which clearly define and demonstrate which of the students in a group, for example, did most of the work. The students, in their presentations, must teach their subject area to the class with an explanation of HOW they learned the information. I've had one student receive an A+ while the other in the pair received a D or F in the presentation. The students are able to clearly judge the work of their peers using this methodology, as well as aim for standards within their own work.