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Why rubrics?

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The run-up to the holidays is often the toughest term of the school year. It's often the longest, it's dark when you leave and dark when you get home, and the honeymoon period of good behaviour in your lessons has worn off. You might be looking down the barrel of mid-year mock exam preparation (and marking!) and the reality that the coursework your KS4 groups were meant to have finished last year hasn't even been started, let alone marked.

But there's good news too. Now's a great time to make some changes to your assessment practice that'll pay off big time down the line in terms of impact and time saved.

I give you... the humble rubric. You can either print these out and use them as a pro-forma (good), or you can sign up for SmartRubric and use an interactive rubric to mark (better).

First, I'll explain what a rubric is, how to make them, and how to use them effectively. Then, I'll give you three really good reasons why you should be using them for al…

What is SmartRubric?

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If you're just coming across SmartRubric, and would like to know a little more about what it is and why I think it's a game changer for teacher workload and formative assessment, read on.


SmartRubric is a formative assessment app designed to ease teacher workload while at the same time improving the quality and usefulness of student progress data for schools.

I developed the initial prototype of SmartRubric while I was an English teacher in a secondary school in London. English teachers reading this will know -- my marking workload was very intense. My colleagues and I would spend hundreds of hours every year marking open-ended essays and projects; providing extensive detailed handwritten formative assessment feedback for our students. And rightly so! High quality formative feedback is an essential part of facilitating student learning.

But, the way we were (and most teachers are) marking is broken for two reasons:

It is inefficient. Because we mark against a criteria; an asses…

How to increase the impact of your marking this exam prep season

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If you teach KS4 and KS5, you are probably in the midst of some pretty serious exam preparation. For many of you, that means practice papers. Lots of them. And if you happen to teach a subject like English, that means a lot of extended essay questions to mark. So, you know, prepare to spend your evenings and weekends marking. After all, you want your students to do well, don't you?

Well, yes, of course. But there's a tool that can help speed up the marking process and improve the consistency and usefulness of your feedback to students. I give you... the humble rubric. You can either print these out and use them as a pro-forma (good), or you can sign up for a free trial of SmartRubric and use an interactive rubric to mark to pesky mocks (better).

First, I'll explain what a rubric is, how to make them, and how to use them effectively. Then, I'll give you three really good reasons why you should be using them for all of your open-ended assessments (but especially practic…