Nothing Compares 2 U

(Sinead O’Connor)

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door

(take your pick)

I’m a Believer

(The Monkees)

What Have I Done to Deserve This?

(Pet Shop Boys)

Critical Thinking


Think Flexibly;

Question and Pose Problems;

Apply Past Knowledge to New Situations;

Think and Communicate with Clarity and Precision;

Gather Data through All Senses



Approaches a problem from a new angle using a novel approach; considers alternative points of view and/or deals with several sources of information simultaneously; mind is open to change based on additional information and data or reasoning, which contradicts beliefs.


Has the capacity to change mind as receives additional data; engages in multiple and simultaneous outcomes and activities; draws upon a repertoire of problem solving strategies and can practice flexibility, knowing when it is appropriate to be broad and global in their thinking and when a situation requires detailed precision; creates and seeks novel approaches; envisions a range of consequences.


Knows how to ask questions to fill in the gaps between what they know and what they don't know.


Learns from experience; when confronted with a new and perplexing problem draws forth experience from past.


Information gets into the brain through conscious use of multiple sensory pathways: gustatory, olfactory, tactile, kinesthetic, auditory, visual, Most linguistic, cultural, and physical learning is derived from the environment by observing or taking in through the senses; recognizes validity in a multi-sensory approach and therefore persists despite an initial lack of success

Considers some variety of views, but a narrow range; lacks the strategies to deal with several sources of information – approaches things skeptically, not as an opportunity, does not move past initial comfort level; acknowledges these processes, but doesn’t yet understand how they can apply own learning


Changes mind when instructed – follows willingly, can’t yet initiate the change consistently; lack consistent self-direction


Asks formulaic questions, struggles to articulate questions inspired by consideration of the content or problem


Recognizes when past strategies can be useful or appropriate, but can’t consistently apply them


Sees the potential in multiple approaches (a wide-range of pathways or senses for acquiring information) and usually willing to try one or more, but may need instant gratification; won’t always persist if not initially (or immediately)

May know there are other views, but may consciously chose not to consider them,  may lack the ability to consider them, or may dismiss their value


Resists changing mind/perspective – too much work; won’t change a thesis or abandon substantial chunks of a draft because already “worked so hard on it,” therefore confuses effort with results and can’t or won’t persist so effort is not genuine or thorough


May recognize when past strategies are useful or appropriate, unable to make the application; Lacks the ability to recognize the value of struggling as part of the learning process


Limited pathways, attempts, but can’t suspend judgment to be successful


Has yet to develop independent thinking strategies, relies on others to generate ideas and questions

Has difficulty in considering alternative points of view or dealing with more than one classification system simultaneously. THEIR way to solve a problem seems to be the ONLY way; perceives situations from a very ego-centered point of view: "My way or the highway!" Their mind is made up; "Don't confuse me with facts, that's it." Answers are superficial, shows little interest in developing those first responses


Unaware of the functions, classes, syntax or intentions in questions; does not realize that questions vary in complexity, structure and purpose; poses simple questions intending to derive maximal results; when confronted with a discrepancy, lacks an overall strategy of search and solution finding

Outright refuses to try to develop one


Begins each new task as if it were being approached for the very first time; each experience is encapsulated and has no relationship to what has come before or what comes afterward; learning is so encapsulated that are unable to draw forth from one event and apply it in another context.


Operates within a narrow range of sensory problem solving strategies wanting only to "describe it but not illustrate or act it", or "listen but not participate".

Content Mastery

Always gets it; consistently grasps details, nuances or subtleties of content – is able to answer their own questions about the content and understand that there are different ways to answer the question


Usually but not always grasps details, nuances or subtleties as a result of emergent critical thinking skills

Some times gets it; periodic understanding; lacking depth as a result of undeveloped critical thinking skills


Never gets it; seriously lacks critical thinking skills

Academic Discipline



Create, Imagine, Innovate;

Strive for Accuracy and Precision;

Learn Continuously

Able to analyze a problem, to develop a system, structure, or strategy to attack a problem; employs a range of alternative strategies for problem solving; collects evidence to indicate problem-solving strategy is working, and if one strategy doesn't work, knows how to back up and try another; recognizes when a theory or idea must be rejected and another employed; has systematic methods of analyzing a problem which include knowing how to begin, knowing what steps must be performed, and what data need to be generated or collected.


Takes risks and frequently pushes the boundaries of perceived limits; intrinsically rather than extrinsically motivated, works on the task because of the aesthetic challenge rather than the material rewards; open to criticism; holds up products for others to judge and seeks feedback in an ever-increasing effort to refine technique; constantly strives for greater fluency, elaboration, novelty, parsimony, simplicity, craftsmanship, perfection, beauty, harmony, and balance.


Always strives for improvement, growing, learning; seizes problems, situations, tensions, conflicts and circumstances as valuable opportunities to learn.

Purposefully revises and conferences in a timely manner

Revises and conferences, but lack true “revision” or timeliness


Uses only tried and true strategies, will take risks cautiously thus not always able to remain open to critical feedback; may want to improve strategy repertoire but lacks the confidence or experience necessary to do so.


Vacillates between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation; only being open to constructive feedback from the teacher – does not consistently value the feedback of their peers. Also can’t try anything new without teacher validation or approval – sometimes  takes risks


Recognizes unsatisfactory or unproductive feedback from group, but doesn’t recognize own obligation Hasn’t yet developed the ability to solicit the kind of feedback that would be constructive


May be discouraged when they don’t get something right the first time, perceives self as being in the next column,  The student who thinks “nothing compares to them” and doesn’t want to be shown evidence to the contrary or has yet to develop the confidence to pursue the next level or goal.

Writes down any answer to get the task over with as quickly as possible.


Uses only tried and true strategies, will take risks unwillingly thus usually not able to remain open to critical feedback

Not revisions, more like edits, rarely conferences

Learns and develops strategies by chance not choice or intention; resists constructive criticism because they are not striving for accuracy and precision or invested in the revision process

Doesn’t take risks

Although not actively disruptive, also not invested in the group process, unwilling to offer or receive feedback

Content with limited achievement

Gives up in despair when the answer to a problem is not immediately known. They sometimes crumple their papers and throw them away saying, "I can't do this," "It's too hard;" easily distracted, they lack the ability to analyze a problem, to develop a system, structure, or strategy of problem attack. If their strategy doesn't work, they give up because they have no alternatives.


Turns in sloppy, incomplete or uncorrected work; more anxious to get rid of the assignment than to check it over for accuracy and precision; willing to suffice with minimum effort rather than investing their maximum; may be more interested in expedience rather than excellence.


Confronts learning opportunities with fear rather than mystery and wonder; feels better when knows rather than when learns; defends biases, beliefs, and storehouses of knowledge rather than inviting the unknown, the creative and the inspirational.

Collaboration, Civic and Social Conduct


Listen with Understanding and Empathy;

Think Interdependently

Listens to others, to empathize with, and to understand their point of view; sees through the diverse perspectives of others;  gently attends to others demonstrating their understanding of and empathy for an idea or feeling by paraphrasing it accurately, building upon it, clarifying it, or giving an example of it; listens not only for what someone knows, but also for what he or she is trying to represent;  devotes mental energies to another person and invests in partner's ideas; tries to understand what the others are saying, may disagree sharply, but wants to know exactly what is disagreeing with.


Fills multiple roles (leads and follows); Monitors and adjusts for group relations; Encourages all group members to share their ideas; Cares about goals; helps direct the group in setting and meeting goals

Listens to others but is unable to consistently empathize with them, therefore is not consistently able to understand others points of view; may build upon an idea if they were the one who suggested it, does not consistently listen for; personal opinion may get in the way of their ability to devotes mental energies to another person and to invests in partner's ideas

Contributes to a thoughtful, productive classroom, group project or conference, by coming prepared and remaining attentive and involved

Honestly works at all roles

Participates in  writing groups, tries to resist instructing group members

Often listens and contributes or may contribute more than listens

Can support a point of view but is not consistently open-minded regarding the views of others

Does not seriously detract from others' work but only rarely contributes to discussions or sometimes adds comments which show a lack of real attentiveness or grasp of the discussion's focus

Limited writing group participation or simply tells peers what to do

Tends to dominate the discussion without listening to others

Rehearses in head what going to say next when partner is finished; quiet but not actually listening

Ridicules, laughs at, or puts down other students' ideas; interrupts; unable to build upon, consider the merits of, or operate on another person's ideas.

Metacognition and


Managing Impulsivity;

Think about Thinking

Works with a sense of deliberativeness; intentionally forms a vision of a product, plan of action, goal or a destination before beginning; strives to clarify and understand directions, develop a strategy for approaching a problem and withhold immediate value judgments about an idea before fully understanding it; considers alternatives and consequences of several possible directions prior to taking action; decreases the need for trial and error by gathering information, taking time to reflect on an answer before giving it, making sure to understand directions, and listening to alternative points of view.


Knows what s/he know and doesn’t know;  able to plan a strategy for producing what information is needed, conscious of steps and strategies during the act of problem solving; reflects on and evaluates the productiveness of own thinking; increasingly aware of own actions and the effect of those actions on others and on the environment; forms internal questions as searches for information and meaning, develops mental maps or plans of action, mentally rehearses prior to performance, monitors those plans as they are employed--being conscious of the need for midcourse correction if the plan is not meeting expectations, reflects on the plan upon completion of the implementation for the purpose of self-evaluation, and edits mental pictures for improved performance.

Reflects with each task, but only because instructed to; may not track progress over all

Usually able to articulate why an approach is (or is not) successful but doesn't see the connection to learning (unless prompted)

May use past reflection for goal setting

Always recounts what was done, beginning to understand the process for doing it (how) and the rationale for using that process (why). Beginning to evaluate the process to see strengths/successes and areas for improvement

Reflects with little depth because haven't yet developed the strategies for doing it; does not track progress

Can not articulate what, why or how

May record what was done, but there reflections are simple recounting of the steps of the process. No attempt at analyzing the process is made

Attempts to understand, but generally resorts to trial and error because sees it as easier (even if less productive).

Blurts the first answer that comes to mind; starts to work without fully understanding the directions; lacks an organized plan or strategy for approaching a problem or makes immediate value judgments about an idea—criticizing or praising it— before fully understanding it; may take the first suggestion given or operate on the first idea that comes to mind rather than considering alternatives and consequences of several possible directions.


Makes no effort to understand own thinking; resorts to trial and error consistently; can not (or doesn’t try to) recognized gaps in knowledge in order to seek new information.

Presentation of Work

Consistently takes pride in work and has a desire for accuracy; takes time to check over work.

Writes with impressive clarity, technical polish and a sense of purpose arising from sincere interest use of language and investment in the content

In oral presentation: articulate, prepared, rehearsed, well-supported and informed

Visual work has strong aesthetic appeal; not cluttered, graphics enhance content; image selection is appropriate; enhancements enrich the viewing and learning experience and significantly contribute to conveying the content and meaning

Inconsistently takes pride in work and has a desire for accuracy; takes time to check over work.

Writes with clarity and correctness

Articulate and prepared but lacking depth of understanding, investigation or evidence

In visual work multimedia elements adequately contribute to conveying the content and meaning; most graphics used appropriately to enrich the experience; purpose is not readily evident.

Has to be prompted to take pride in work, verify accuracy and take time to check over work.

Writes with some clarity but with some notable editing errors or occasional awkwardness

Inarticulate or unclear, inadequate preparation, rehearsal or evidence

Visual work lacks attention to aesthetic design. Graphics are random or insufficient and do not enhance content.

Doesn’t take pride in work, desire accuracy; and/or take time to check over work.

Writes  without attention to detail or without adequate development of ideas

May complete work but often in a sloppy or thoughtless fashion

In visual work graphics interfere with or distract from content and communication of ideas.



Habits of Mind are the characteristics of what intelligent people do when they are confronted with problems, the resolution(s) to which are not immediately apparent. These behaviors are seldom performed in isolation. Rather, clusters of such behaviors are drawn forth and employed in various situations.” (Arthur L. Costa and Bena Kallick: 16 Habits of Mind) The purpose of a rubric when assessing student work is to provide benchmarks of achievement based on these habits which allow a student to understand their current level of mastery and discipline in order to set goals for future drafts, assessments, or marking periods. For as long as possible we will refrain from discussing grades, per se, and focus our discussion on achievement and progress. As long as a student continues to set goals, reflect and evaluate their work and habits, set new goals and modify their work, habits and effort accordingly, they will realize increasing success and achievement as the year progresses. Thus, rather than penalizing a student who begins the year as a believer and ends the year with nothing compared to them by averaging a lower earlier grade with a later higher one, the student is evaluated according to mastery and achievement as demonstrated by their ability and mastery by the end of the year. However, a student who may begin the year with the drive and motivation to knock on heaven's door, but who then slacks off, loses focus and discipline and ends up wondering what they did to deserve this, will not be boosted from a D to a C because first quarter was strong when it is not reflective of the ability or master he or she consistently demonstrated.