I really needed to find a way to encourage appropriate lab behavior both in terms of following lab rules and collaborating with partners. Over the summer I came up with this easy-to-use lab rubric and the results have been outstanding!
Each student begins with 10 points (you can change to any points you prefer – the document is in Word so that it can be edited).
Students are told that they are being graded and each category is explained. They understand that they begin with 10 points and lose a point (or sometimes 1/2 a point) when they break a lab rule or are showing lack of effort and teamwork.
All it takes is ONE TIME of (emotion-free) calling out a student and everyone else pretty much stays within the lines of 10-point safety!
This RUBRIC is only 99 cents!
By the way, it is VERY IMPORTANT to have clear, enforceable lab rules. The biggest mistake any teacher (or parent) makes is setting a rule and then not fully enforcing it at the first opportunity to do so. Do yourself a favor and your students – BELIEVE in your expectations and enforce them equally and always.
Rules I always enforce (within the letter and the spirit of the law):
- No interrupting members of other groups – no talking to or bothering anyone in a different group. This disrupts the lab and gets lots of people off task quickly.
- Stay on topic – fooling around and talking about other things results in delays in work being accomplished and diminishes the learning opportunity for everyone involved.
- Use lab supplies appropriately only – any lab supply, including the Slinkies and toy cars, are for scientific use as allowed in the lab. Any misuse results in a loss of a point and can lead to other consequences as well. Students will not respect the science supplies if this expectation is not fully expressed and enforced!
- Stay at your station unless otherwise directed. Students cannot just wander around at their leisure. Doing so leads to misbehavior so be clear about this and enforce it!
- Follow clean up procedures (as directed). As we often do in life, I had to learn the hard way about this important procedure. Students need clear instructions on what they are expected to do for clean up. Be clear about how to dispose of the disposables, for example.If you are new to teaching then it may not occur to you that you have to be explicit about rules like these.
Teach, demonstrate and practice lab rules and procedures. Believe in their power to promote learning (they do NOT diminish fun, they stop chaos!). Rules are meaningless without (emotion-free) enforcement.I didn’t make this stuff up of course.
Much of my success with lab/classroom management comes from the wonderful work of smartclassroommanagement.com. Check them out if you have a hard time believing in the educational power of enforcing your rules.