Opinion Essay Rubrics

Even though I have officially left the classroom and begun a new journey as a literacy instructional coach, I have decided to post the rubrics I was using in my final year as a language arts teacher.  Deciding which writing rubric to use seems to be one of the most arduous tasks of elementary school teachers.  I’m almost embarrassed to admit the countless hours spent creating, tweaking, and searching for the “best” rubric.  And then– don’t even get me started on how many hours were spent trying to agree on ONE rubric as a grade level team…Ick.  My toes curl just thinking about it.

*I must mention that I hesitated to post this one because I have been studying the value and effectiveness of rubrics and/or scoring guides (semantics, in my opinion) that I’m not sure if I would have augmented my rubric yet again.  However, this was one of the rubrics that I felt did a sufficient job providing specific feedback to the students.  So if other teachers can use this to enhance the quality of writing feedback they provide to their students, so be it.

As an instructional coach that is specifically working with writing at the moment, I have been comparing three rubrics: the SBAC rubric (4 pt.), Step Up to Writing 4th Edition’s rubric (4 pt.), and our writing software program’s rubric (MyAccess-4 or 6pt.).  See Below

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If you notice, all 3 rubrics have a different number of domains/writing traits.  For example, the MyAccess rubric is broken up into 5 domains i.e. focus and meaning, content and development, organization, etc.  Step Up to Writing is divided into 4 different domains i.e. organization, ideas/content, language/style, etc.  And finally, the biggie-SBAC.  This is broken up into only 3 areas: purpose/organization, evidence/elaboration, and conventions.  So the golden question asked by every teacher at every training given: Which rubric do I use?  And the answer is not a direct one, but it’s not that complicated either.

My thoughts are this-as long as a teacher intentionally selects a rubric where all the domains of quality writing are accounted for (meaning not simply a holistic score) and the students find it accessible as a learning tool to develop as a writer, it really doesn’t matter.  It becomes a matter of preference for the teacher.  Which rubric will be most easily understood by parents and students that you serve and is also efficient for you?

This is why I chose to post the rubrics created by my partner teacher and me.  If it’s something you feel will enhance your writing program, I’m a happy person.  If not, what tool do use to assess writing?  Please share as we’re all in the same boat.

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5 pt Opinion Essay Rubric
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5 pt. Opinion Essay Rubric with lines for areas of strength and areas to improve. Helpful for both tchr and st.
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Opinion Essay Rubrics – 5 pt.; some with percentages (Beg. to Exemplary) Some blank for tchr discretion

 

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Opinion Essay Rubric -5 pt. Beg. to Exemplary. Sts can highlight two areas to improve and star two areas of strength

Writing Rubrics…ugh

I think we can all agree that grading our students’ writing assignments is a daunting task. In the past, I’ve put it off for so long that grading it at all seems worthless because, in order to be useful, the feedback needs to be immediate–we all know that. So why is this task so difficult?

In my experience, I moved from teaching first grade to teaching fifth grade. That’s quite a jump, as far as writing expectations and standards. My team did not have an agreed upon rubric. Everyone used the tool that they saw fit, whether that be a simple checklist, different rubrics, a point system, and/or (my personal favorite) “I know this is an B paper”. Personally, I like things to be a little bit more consistent to ensure I’m being as fair as possible to my students.

I’m happy to report that after trying countless different rubrics, this one has been working well for me. I have incorporated the Six Traits of Writing along with our district adopted writing program. Both students and parents have told me they liked the break down and explanation and, to be honest, so do I. I know grading writing is subjective, but teachers should try to keep it as consistent as possible. This is the key to helping our students’ writing improve.

This is the front side of the rubric and the chart of six traits is copied on the back.  I begin the year using a full page rubric.
This is the front side of the rubric and the chart of six traits is copied on the back. I begin the year using a full page rubric.
Six traits of writing rubric tweeked to my liking and fitted to one paper.
Six traits of writing rubric tweeked to my liking and fitted to one paper.
This is the rubric I switch to mid-year once I feel my students and parents are familiar with the different traits.  It saves paper.
This is the rubric I switch to mid-year once I feel my students and parents are familiar with the different traits. It saves paper.

Happy writing everyone!!

Writing Rubrics, finally!

I don’t know about anybody else, but it took me FOREVER to create a writing rubric that worked for me.  My district uses a particular writing program called “Step Up to Writing” which is really helpful, but I was not satisfied with the rubrics.  I was more drawn to rubrics that assessed each of the six traits of writing separately.  I feel that this is a more effective way to assess writing, so that the students can become aware of their strengths and weaknesses.  In the past, when their writing was given just one letter grade, the students simply based that one grade on whether they were a “good” writer or not.  But we, as teachers, know that students can have wonderful ideas, but poor conventions.  Or a student might demonstrate perfect spelling, grammar, organization, etc., but lack substantive ideas.  You get the picture.

This rubric has helped me give better and more effective feedback to the students.  Now, they are able to choose one area to grow and feel proud of the areas in which they excel.  I am loving the results!

The rubric packet is on sale right now!  Hope you like it!

Page 1 of writing rubric I use at the beginning of the year.  More detailed than the side-by-side rubric.
Page 1 of writing rubric I use at the beginning of the year. More detailed than the side-by-side rubric.
Page 2 (back side) of page 1 rubric.  I use this so students can see how I grade each trait of writing.  I circle where the students are for each trait and then give the final grade on the other side.
Page 2 (back side) of page 1 rubric. I use this so students can see how I grade each trait of writing. I circle where the students are for each trait and then give the final grade on the other side.
Writing Criteria Chart printed side-by-side to save paper.   I only use this one at the end of the year when the students are familiar with the rubric and how their writing is scored.
Writing Criteria Chart printed side-by-side to save paper. I only use this one at the end of the year when the students are familiar with the rubric and how their writing is scored.