Curriculum Flow – Writing Rubrics

Odd one Out by Mark Freeth CC BY

This year I am determined to write meaningful rubrics that can be used for each Strand over the year and then to use them with my department – get feedback that drives effective modification where required – and then set them in stone for a year so we can focus on the tasks and student learning as well as the deficits in our professional base and prioritise this over the continual re-writing of documents.

In my last post, I wrote about the Professional conversations that we have been having in our Department about the Philosophy of PE at ISB in the MS.  And about how a visiting specialist in Curriculum gave me a few ‘aha’ moments that clarified my thinking and I hope have set me up for a stronger flow around curriculum design.

In this post, I want to unpack two Ontario standards that we use in almost every unit.  I am sharing some of the work that we did with Dr Natalie Bolton and then the questions and conversations that have driven me in my reflections.

Once we decide on the Philosophy of our Department and what graduating students look like from ISB MS PE; the next step is to look at whether the interpretation of the strands aligns with what we believe our students learning experience looks like.  This is not an easy task but it does mean that unpacking the standard is a little easier to guide.

Here are the two standards that I am currently trying to unpack in our department:


B1.3 Send and receive a variety of objects, adjusting for speed and distance while applying basic principles of movement.

B2.3 Apply a variety of tactical solutions to increase chances of success in game play.


B1.3 Send and receive a variety of objects, adjusting for speed and distance while applying basic principles of movement.

B2.3 Apply a variety of tactical solutions to increase chances of success in game play.


B1.3 Use and combine sending, receiving and retaining skills in response to a variety of external stimuli while applying basic principles of movement

B2.3 Apply a variety of tactical solutions to increase chances of success as they participate in physical activities.

What is the standard asking of our students?

Dr Bolton asked us to look at each standard and decide what was important – Knowledge, Reasoning, Skill and Product.  What does B1.3 ask our students to learn?  As I read this again looking at the four areas of learning suggested by Bolton, I know that to be able to have the skills required, there is a lot of knowledge expected for success.  If you don’t understand about the Basic Principles of Movement and how they relate to your sending/receiving then this can be tricky to actually do.  If you are not able to pass a basketball into the space someone is moving into, rather than to the place you are now then you will struggle here.  If you cannot use all of your joints to throw a baseball greater distance, then you will struggle to complete this standard.  Here is the table we came up with for better breaking down this standard for our G8 students:

I have found this table to be so very useful in looking at what is actually expected – and discussing what we think should be in here with the department.  It also has challenged us to consider that we are not covering all of this content explicitly – some doing more than others – and that we need to look at how we cover the content over the course of the year.   It is important that we feel confident to be the amazing teachers that we are, to learn from each other and to grow as professionals, but to not feel that we have to be clones of each other – we all bring something to the student learning and our own craft needs to adopt the major learning targets that we can now see in this table.

But what does this look like in a student rubric?

The next stage for me has been to look at a Generic rubric for this standard that could be used across any unit and could then be tailored to meet specific unit needs where possible.  I am still pondering this process.  The four areas that we have to give grades on are: Meeting the Standard (M)

Meeting the Standard (M)

Extending Beyond (EB)

Approaching (Ap)

Emerging (Em)

I admit that I found this next part very overwhelming.  I consulted with Stacy Stephens, our Director of Curriculum and Learning and she shared her expertise with me.  I then sat down with the different versions of this rubric (I have over 6 of them) as well as the MS Reporting expectations and melded them together.  I wanted to write the Meeting first and used the Knowledge, Reasoning and Skill table that we had written with Dr Bolton.  I didn’t want to write too much (I am guilty of this!) and deliberately kept it very linear.  I have written it in the first person as I want students to own this as they talk about it with me.

Based on the Philosophy conversations we have had, students who can articulate Knowledge and can Reason (explain) how to use their Knowledge can get an Approaching grade for this standard.  If you cannot DO the skill/s then you cannot Meet the standard.  I will admit that this is not what I have used before, as I felt if you had the Knowledge and Reasoning and some of the skill, you could Meet – but I do agree and will apply this rubric to my students this year as I agree with our philosophy and I know students have multiple chances to be successful over the year.

Specific Checklists will be used in Unit specific rubrics.  We are looking at designing Category Game rubrics (eg. Invasion; Net/Wall; Striking and Fielding; Individual Pursuits) so that we can use them over and over and have students grow in familiarity with the expectations.  An example of a checklist could be:

I can define/describe/explain:

  • The principles of movement (laws of motion and force; laws of reaction)
  • Sending – transferring body weight as passing and following through, using all your joints (biggest to smallest)
  • Receiving – keeping one’s eyes on object, anticipating will object will arrive and moving into position, preparing the body by being in a ready position with a low center of gravity
  • Retaining – carrying, dribbling, and cradling, change directions, controlling the object with hand or foot, maintaining control.

I have not re-written this checklist yet in student-friendly terms yet but in developing our Knowledge/Reason/Skill table and then our Assessment Rubric and then the Checklists, it is very clear what we will need to cover with students for them to be successful in this Standard.

Following the same process, we looked at the next standard:

This table is still in a state of discussion – we are still not all happy with the way this is written, but we are close to consensus.  From this unpacking, I have written the following rubric (still in reflection stage as with the previous one I have shared).

As with the previous rubric, our philosophy is that if students cannot show skills in a dynamic Game Sense style drill, then they cannot Meet the standard.

An example of a Unit Specific Checklist would be this for Invasion – and we still need to break this down into a hierarchy for growth over G6-7-8 in our program.

Offensive Play:

  • possession of ball/object,
  • attempting to move in the direction of the goal,
  • moving and creating open spaces

Defensive Play

  • staying between the offensive player and the goal;
  • use hands, feet, stick or body to prevent a pass or scoring attempt

The last month we have been working to write very clear standard rubrics that align with the Ontario Curriclum; the needs of our reporting system in the MS at ISB; the curriculum that we teach (units/ spaces/ opportunities for students) and nail this down into documents that we can use and re-use and reflect on for a year.  We still have a way to go but I am feeling like we are flowing in the right direction!  Next post I will share about the Formative Assessment work we are doing that has come out of this rubric work.

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