Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Orange Slice Rubrics

Orange Slice: Teacher Rubric is a Google Docs Add-on created by Matt Buchanan, Teacher at Angola High School. It is a tool that actually inserts a rubric within a student's document. The teacher can select various preset or customizable categories, grade it, and give instant feedback to the student. This tool also works well with Google Classroom as the title of the student's document changes with the grade inserted into it. This allows the teacher to quickly see the results of the entire class without opening each document separately. Below is a quick tutorial on how to use Orange Slice: Teacher Rubric.

I recently contacted Matt to just ask, what caused him to develop this Google Add-on. Here he goes into great detail as to why he created the teacher rubric as well as his newest release of the student rubric. It is clear that creating easy tools for teachers to increase communication is a passion.. Matt also reveals that he has plans to develop a third Google Docs Add-on with a focus on Vocabulary. We will look forward to that release in the near future. Here is what Matt had to say: 
There were several reasons for developing OrangeSlice: Teacher Rubric and the reasons were centered around the teacher-student-rubric relationship. How to make this relationship synergistic, direct in action and simple. Other solutions required the user to create a rubric in another doc. This felt like it complicated the whole experience and hindered the student's relationship with the rubric.  I felt it was important for the student to have the rubric front and center.  If a student had to go elsewhere to find the rubric, then I felt it would lower the probability the student would review the rubric before beginning the assignment. This would be a disadvantage to a student's academic success. The rubric is contained within the assignment with Teacher Rubric. Hence, the student has constant ease of access to the rubric and its performance criteria.
In other solutions, the teacher-rubric relationship was not as smooth as I'd like. The extension approach has its advantages, but I do not like having my vertical screen size reduced to view a student's work. I want to be able to scan vertically as far up and down as possible so I can spend more time evaluating and less time scrolling.  The add-on approach creates a side-bar that minimizes the screen horizontally. I feel this is not a significant compromise since most screens are wide in landscape perspective.

Having the rubric not contained within the document not only draws the student away from the assignment, it removes the rubric further from the teacher.  Why does the rubric have to be outside of the document? I wanted my focus to be placed square within the assignment. It has my full attention. I didn't want to think about an outside factor. I too wanted direct access to the rubric as I created the assignment. It is important that I ensure my categories are the exact ones necessary for my students to achieve the learning goals I've established. So many times, I've created a rubric then started creating the assignment only to realize another category would be more effective than the one I'd planned. Or, I wanted to adjust the performance criteria just slightly to best achieve the academic goals I had planned for my students. Having the rubric within the doc allows the teacher to organically create an assignment with an effective rubric.  Also, before sending an assignment out, I want to verify that last year's rubric for the assignment has been updated.  I can get instant visual feedback on the rubric I've selected. I felt this teacher-rubric interaction was important to my effectiveness as a teacher.
I felt having a pleasing user interface was important to me. This is purely a personal preference. I wanted a software product that was visually pleasing. I spend a bunch of time grading rubrics and it's nice to work with one that is easy on the eyes. There are many options to select and I wanted one that would show me just what I was working on, remove it when I was done and introduce the next category for me to evaluate. Teacher Rubric supports this approach as it allows the teacher to spend more time with a maximized screen and with a user interface that reflects my current category focus. I wanted the software to work for me and present to me what I needed to see next.
Back to the students, I really value peer-to-peer work and there wasn't a solution available for students to review, provide feedback and score a peer's rubric. Research has shown the value of peer interaction while learning.  Hence, I have just released OrangeSlice: Student Rubric.  This is a stripped down Teacher Rubric where students have a dedicated space to write feedback, score the rubric and arrive at a holistic grade for their peer. I didn't want students to be able to assign a grade, like 75%, but I did provide a means of qualifying an overall performance grade. Student Rubric concludes with a holistic grade that reflects how the peer evaluated and concluded their peer's work.  This begins the synergistic relationship with Teacher Rubric by documenting a student's historical progress through an assignment. The peer's feedback and review is not lost but saved while the teacher uses Teacher Rubric. Student Rubric scores the rubric in green where Teacher rubric scores the rubric in orange. In addition, the peer's written feedback is maintained. The synergy culminates with a completed assignment that can be used to constructively provide a student feedback. The teacher can sit one-on-one with the student and the historical record captured by the OrangeSlice rubrics begins the discussion on how the student can improve. The teacher and student have specific examples and a collection of feedback that can be the starting point of constructive instruction and dialog.
Lastly, there is vocabulary. It is so important for students to utilize new and larger vocabulary in their work. I'm in the process of developing a third add-on: OrangeSlice: Vocabulary. Manufacturing has demonstrated that over a long duration, visual inspection is only 80% accurate. I felt this experience hunting and counting the number of vocabulary words my students have used in assignments. Many times I've missed words they've used effectively. I needed a tool that would find them for me. Just like Teacher Rubric and Student Rubric, I needed a tool that would do work for me by presenting information at just the right moment and in the right format. Hence, I can spend more of my time, energy and focus effectively grading my students' work.
Matt also has made several videos of his own going into the details of using his tools. These videos can be found on his Google+ page. I suggest you check it out.