Social Studies Project Rubric Examples

Instructor: Sharon Linde
Social studies lessons become rich and engaging when coupled with a cool project. Grading the projects can sometimes be complicated, though. In this lesson, we'll dive into rubrics and learn how they work in the classroom.

Using Projects in Social Studies

Before getting into rubrics, let's get clear on social studies and project use. Doing projects in social studies is a great way to differentiate, combine curriculum and push students out of their comfort zone. Instead of lecturing, taking notes, quizzes and tests, social studies projects are interactive and collaborative. Students love being active and you get a chance to see how your students use their understanding of concepts in creative ways.

There are many ways to do projects in social studies. Social Studies is defined as the study of humans and how they relate to their environments and each other. It has many strands - geography, history, economics, civics and other studies that relate to human activity. Projects related to social studies are activities children do to learn, explore and apply their understanding. Some commonly used project ideas are:

  • Making a diorama
  • Inventing a game
  • Creating a collage or poster
  • Writing a book, newsletter or brochure
  • Drafting and putting on a play

Sometimes teachers use projects during teaching, and sometimes the projects are culminating, or completed after teaching. Either way, a teacher will need a way to grade them, and that's where rubrics can be used.

Defining Rubrics

Rubrics are a tool used by educators to grade student work. Designed to be objective, they identify standards and levels of completion. Typically they're a grid, with standards on the horizontal axis and grading measurements on the vertical. Teachers use them by looking closely at student work, determining the level of completion based on the rubric criteria, and scoring appropriately.

As mentioned earlier, projects are sometimes used throughout a unit and sometimes at the end. When using a rubric for interim projects you'll need a formative assessment - a measurement used during instruction. If your project comes at the end of the unit it is more likely a summative assessment, or picture of overall learning of the entire unit. Both rubrics are similar in style and application and vary only on the criteria used. To decide which to use, you'll need to determine your needs first.

Putting it Together - Project Rubrics

Social studies projects are tangible learning activities children create so show their content knowledge. Rubrics are a grading tool used by teachers to assess student learning. So social studies project rubrics are the tool used by teachers to grade projects created in social studies. What a rubric looks like depends on the project that is being graded.

If your project is short and simple, you don't need to create a detailed rubric. A two or three tier grid will be sufficient to effectively grade student work. If the project is meant to be a broader application, you'll need several criteria sections and levels of completion. Both methods require you to think about:

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