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EssayTagger is a web-based tool to help teachers grade essays faster.
But it is not an auto-grader.

This blog will cover EssayTagger's latest feature updates as well as musings on
education, policy, innovation, and preserving teachers' sanity.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Announcing: Free Common Core Rubric Creation Tool!

We're super-proud to announce the release of our new tool that helps teachers create Common Core-aligned rubrics! Open to the public, totally free.

EssayTagger's Common Core Rubric Creation Tool

You are ahead of the curve and are working hard to align your curriculum to Common Core. But assessing and tracking your students' progress within Common Core is difficult -- and nigh impossible to do for essays.

I spent the whole dang summer wrestling with the standards, trying to figure out how to incorporate them into real-world, practical writing rubrics.

My initial approach was to try to coax the actual text of the standards into a more rubric-friendly format. But teachers shouldn't have to waste their time adapting the W.8.1a text just to be able to include "Thesis" on their rubrics.

Instead just evaluate "Thesis" like you normally would but add, "Oh, and by the way, 'Thesis' is part of W.8.1a." This is where the tool comes in to help you.

The Tool
I've taken each of the Common Core standards and broken them down into specific, assessable rubric elements that you might look for in an essay.

Here's a concrete example:

That W.8.1a standard encompasses a lot of important aspects of an essay that need to be assessed separately. Simply check the rubric elements that you want to include in your rubric and the tool will add them.

I've created rubric element mappings like this for grades 6-12 for:
  • Writing
  • Reading: Literature
  • Reading: Informational Text
  • History / Social Studies
  • Science & Technical Subjects
  • Writing (Hist/SS, Sci&Tech)

You can mix and match between the different standards and subject areas (e.g. "Argumentative Writing" and "Reading: Literature"); just keep clicking through the standards and checking the boxes as you see fit.

The tool will then create a rubric skeleton for you that remembers those mappings back to the Common Core standards; your "Thesis" rubric element will always point back to W.8.1a.

If you click on the standard identifier (e.g. "W.8.1a"), the original Common Core text will roll out and reveal itself:

You can rename the rubric elements however you see fit. Maybe your class uses Claim instead of Thesis? No problem. The terms I used are just to get you started and are by no means definitive.

You can add new rubric elements and decide if you want them to map to a standard or not. I always evaluate students' topic sentences, but there isn't a corresponding Common Core standard. That's fine. I'll just add a "Topic Sentence" rubric element with no Common Core mapping.

You can rearrange your rubric elements into whatever top-to-bottom order makes the most sense to you.

You can add "descriptors" to fill in the rubric grid. Descriptors are equivalent to the text of a traditional rubric:

The best part is that you can share your rubric with your colleagues or with anyone on the web, on twitter, on facebook, you name it.

Each rubric has a public link that allows people to view your rubric, print it, or save it as an Excel file (coming soon!). EssayTagger users can also import shared rubrics directly into their accounts to edit and use on their own assignments.

Come back later and revise your rubric. When you create your rubric we email you a link to your rubric's editing page.

Totally free. No registration
There is zero cost to use this tool. There is no registration, no account creation.

Registered EssayTagger users obviously have this tool built into their member accounts, but I thought this was too useful to keep under wraps.

Okay, my rubric is aligned, now how do I track students' progress?
Outside of the EssayTagger world the options aren't great. But if you grade your students' essays within EssayTagger, you'll discover the real power behind what we have to offer.

Many of you won't have a clue what EssayTagger is outside of this tool. In a nutshell: we enable you to grade essays much more efficiently and quickly without sacrificing the quality of the personal feedback you give to your students. We're not an auto-grader. Your brains, your expertise still run the show.

And very soon we will release our Common Core progression tracking feature. Want to know how Jimmy is progressing at W.8.1a? Want to know how your whole class is progressing? Just create a Common Core-aligned rubric, use it to grade essays in EssayTagger, and all of the results and tracking data will instantly be available to you -- with no extra work on your part!!

Sanity saver. Game changer. No joke.

I really hope that the Common Core Rubric Creation Tool makes life just a little bit easier for you. I spent a lot of time on it and I'm very, very proud of it.

And certainly I hope you explore what else EssayTagger has to offer, but you're under no obligation to do so and you can opt out of our newsletter if you don't want us to bug you.

So go out there and create your Common Core-aligned rubrics, share them with each other, discuss them, and refine them!

And, as always, please let me know what you think about the tool and/or what could be improved. The feedback box is at the top of every page of the site.

Looking forward to hearing from you!