Have you ever played Angry Birds?
The concept is super simple: the game gives you a giant slingshot and three tries to knock down all the blocks and bad guys stacked inside of an enemy fortress. Topple the tower in one shot, and you’re rewarded with three stars. Take two tries, and you earn two stars. Use all three shots to knock down the tower, and you get one star.
But regardless of how many tries it takes you to topple the tower — so long as you manage to knock everything down, the game gives you the option to advance to the next stage (to try toppling another tower) or to replay the same level you just played (to try to earn additional stars).
Love this idea. So I adapted it into a rubric for students working on multiple stages of a PBL (in the case of my classroom, they were building a website). Here’s what it looks like:
(Here’s an editable version of the activity template)
And here’s how it “plays” out in a classroom:
Students are given class time to work on a PBL (in the case of the assignment above, they’re building a multi-page Google Site for their midterm assignment). And students are welcome to complete any checkpoint they want in any order they choose. As soon as a student completes a checkpoint, they bring proof of their work product over to the teacher desk and you have a very quick conference (30 seconds is plenty) where they receive immediate feedback and a “star” rating of 1 to 3 for their work product.
Just like Angry Birds, students have the option to go back to that same work product and put in additional work to level up their star rating, or they can move on to another checkpoint at their discretion. Either way, the “game” will offer immediate feedback as they complete their next checkpoint, and the option to repeat the process all over again to strengthen their finished product and improve their overall score.
No red lights.
And if stars feel a bit too cute for your classroom? No sweat. For teachers who’d prefer to use a “GREAT,” “GOOD,” or “OK” approach to the same activity…
Here’s an editable variant of the same activity that uses a “GREAT,” “GOOD,” and “OK” rating instead of the three star system.