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Using Criteria for Success in Your Classroom

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I took a Skillful Teacher course and didn’t like much of it, but I did learn a couple of useful strategies. One was using criteria for success in your classroom. Using the criteria for success in your classroom helpful and simple strategy that makes grading a bit easier and straightforward. It is also easier to explain to students exactly what you are looking for. I find using criteria for success much easier for ELLs than traditional rubrics where the language can be difficult for them to understand. Students can use criteria for success as they are working to check off the elements of the project that they have completed so they can keep themselves on track. You can also transfer ownership for grading over to the student pretty easily using this strategy.

What do I need for Criteria for Success?

The criteria for success should be focused on the product. It is a list that shows what skills the students are expected to have demonstrated on the final project. It is not a list of what the teacher will do, nor is it is a list of steps. Basically, it asks the teacher to think, before a project, what do I need to see from students in order to know that they were successful? Then the students can check their performance against the criteria to see how their performance lives up to the expected performance. Here’s an excerpt from The Skillful Teacher. This 

Samples for Using Criteria for Success

Here are a couple of examples that I created for different projects I’ve done with my ESOL classes. The first is from Kelly Gallagher’s book, Write Like This (which is an incredible writing resource for secondary teachers).

The first is an essay idea from Kelly Gallagher’s Write Like This, but I’ve seen other people do it as well. It asks students to write a list of “rules” for something (can be anything). They should write the rules in a similar fashion to the rules listed in Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.

The second is for a get-to-know-you project I do at the beginning of the year. It’s called “Me By the Numbers.” See my post about how I do the Me By the Numbers project here.

You can get that project by joining the Freebie Library.

The last one is a criteria for success for a personal narrative that I had my ELLs write one year. I divided that one up into a “content” section and a “grammar” section so that they would have two different scores that I averaged together at the end.

Have you used criteria for success in your classroom?

Check out my other post from Skillful Teacher on using an effort rubric for promoting a growth mindset.

Happy teaching!


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