If learners understand what success looks like in a task, they are more likely to be able to achieve it. If success criteria are vague, or presented in exam board jargon, or not decoded for students, they can be unclear on what exactly we require of them and produce work that doesn’t fit the bill. It is worth getting success criteria clear before learners start the task. Here are a few practical ways of doing this:
1. Match up exercise/ jigsaw
Make a set of cards with criteria words such as define, describe, evaluate and corresponding definitions and example sentences in context. Students can work in pairs to match the cards i.e. criteria word to corresponding definition and example sentence. They can have a summary sheet for their files for reference.
2. Wall charts for criteria
On the wall of your classroom, you can have a list of laminated criteria words and their definitions so you can draw attention to them in class and elicit examples for the topic you are working on, to provide regular recaps and build learners’ understanding.
3. Unpicking criteria words
De-mystify tricky criteria words such as evaluate by using an example from everyday life. Ask learners to evaluate an old Nokia phone and a new IPhone and then transfer the approach to an example from your learning context.
4. Quizzes using criteria words
At the end of a unit or module, ask learners in groups to devise quiz questions using criteria words to recycle key points or terms from the topic, e.g. Define these three key words or Describe how…… Learners then swap quizzes and try to complete them, returning them to their peers for marking.
5. Card recycling games
Use the cards created in activity one to encourage recycling in pairs. Students can test each other by reading out a definition and asking their partner to guess the criteria word. Alternatively learners can match up the cards on the table and then turn several over and test each other on what they say, i.e. they can see the word and the definition but they can’t see the example and need to recall that.
6. Spot the criteria evidence
Provide a piece of spoof work for assessment by the group. Ask them to highlight the evidence that fits the different criteria using coloured pens. You can omit evidence for certain criteria and challenge students to spot which criteria haven’t been met. You can also make errors, for example describing something when you should be evaluating it and ask them to spot the errors. This can become a differentiated activity if you make two versions at different levels of challenge.
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