It is important the we develop common rubrics to assess student writing at each grade level. This will allow us to identify anchor pieces at for each level of the rubric. Then in our PLC meetings we can evaluate and reflect on student work.

Please look at the rubric and let us know what you think should be added, deleted, or revised. You can do this in two ways: 1) Post a comment that describes the changes you think should be made or 2) Open the file save it on your computer make the revisions then post a comment and attach the revised file.

We will use your feedback to create a common rubric that all grade level teachers will use. The files are attached. Thanks in advance for you input.

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One question I have is about the wording for "focusing on one episode or big idea". In Writer's Workshop, Lucy Caulkins presents the idea of a seed story (small) vs. a watermelon story(big). Students' writing should focus on a small seed story with a lot of detail, not a big watermelon story. For example, students want to write about a vacation or trip they took and tell about everything they did for the whole week. Instead, they should choose one event from the trip and their writing should focus on that event. Anyway, just thought if we're using Writer's Workshop, perhaps we should incorporate the terminology we're teaching in class into the rubric so there is a correlation.
I agree with Leslie Rutkowski's comments about encouraging students to narrow their story to a short encounter or episode, and telling it more detail. Often I ask students to imagine their story in slow motion in order to capture characters' emotions, expressions and actions. The concept of 'show, don't tell' becomes easier to understand and execute.
Other concepts we may want to consider adding are: putting 'said' to bed, using interesting comparisons (similes/metaphors), and use of onomatopoeia.
In preparing to evaluate our third grade rubric, I looked at how the writing expectations evolve from Kindergarten through fourth grade. I was surprised to see that Kindergarten uses a "5 star" scale, first grade uses a "6 point" one, and then the best writing score falls to a "4 point" rubric. Since the ASK3 evaluators use a "5 point" scale, shouldn't we? I use a great set of guidelines that Donna Mohr gave us when we were preparing the fourth graders for the ESPA many years ago. I checked out the DOE website and there is still a similar rubric that can be printed. Now granted the wording needs to be simplified, but I like the way the chart shows the importance of each category by how wide it is. My students are always surprised that Spelling isn't very high on the list when it comes to scoring a "5". Content and organization are the main focus with usage, sentence construction and mechanics making the essay easier and more enjoyable to read. So many times students have trouble getting their ideas on paper because they think everything has to be spelled correctly that it holds them back from taking literary risks. If we still want to create our own rubric, check out www.teach-nology.com
I like Amy's idea that our point scale should match the point scale of the ASK testers, especially after going to Michelle Baltz's meeting last week about test preparation in writing for the ASK. It makes sense to make their year-long rubric be as similar as possible to the one that you'll teach during the "Writing On Demand" unit. I also think Leslie has a good point to make the language match our curriculum's language. I really like the simplicity and encouragement on the left side of the rubric. However, I still feel that it is too "wordy" for use with our third graders. I think my students would be overwhelmed by some of the language and some of the ambiguity. For example "Tried to sound like..." vs. "Sounds like..." and "Interesting opening/closing..." and "Attempted interesting opening/closing..." are the same thing to my students. If they tried to do something, in their eyes, they did! I know my students need as many "black and white" phrases as possible. For example, the transition words have "uses transition words like next and after that..." That's clear for our students. They can look in their writing and find evidence: it's either there or it's not! Sometimes a teacher may not want to set such a specific formula, wanting students to see that there are so many options out there that all result in a good piece of writing, but I think we need to narrow down the options to help students focus. I would revise the one there and post my idea of a "perfect" third grade writing rubric, but I've been thinking about it all year and am still at a loss! I'll keep thinking and hopefully a solution will arise from our teamwork!
I liked the far left hand side of the 4 point scale rubric with comments such as, "WOW! You are getting to be a wonderful writer." These comments were very positive and encouraging to students. However, I feel that this scale contained too many details for a 3rd grader to check. It looks overwelming. I agree with Amy that our writing rubric should coincide with the state's 5 point scale. The one that Michelle included in our folders at a recent writng presentation was very clear and understandable. It certainly is one that a 3rd grader could use independently to evaluate his/her own writing.
We have used the "hamburger" organizer many times during our writing. The kids can relate to the concept, and it is a visual that they are all familiar with. I wonder if there is a way we can link the rubric to the "hamburger", and simplify it a bit, so it is easier for the kids to take in and digest( a little food humor...). Clay Smith has a good hamburger rubric.Could we modify his and apply the writing rubric? Just food for thought... John Keiter

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