Thursday, April 3, 2014

Evaluating Writing...Giving Students and Families Simple Feedback

If your school is like mine, you have some common rubrics for scoring writing.  If your school is like mine, they are long and involved and not very "real world" friendly!  We are required to use them for certain pieces, but I am always on a quest to find quick and easy ways to communicate with students and parents about writing progress.

As some of you know, I do demand prompts from time to time and use different systems for assessing them.  Some of the resources I use are available in my store.  But sometimes I assign some writing that I want to give feedback on that isn't a demand prompt.

Here's an example.  We read historical fiction in book clubs, and I wanted to see if students could do some writing as if they were a main character.  I asked them to pick a critical scene and to write a narrative from the point of view of that character.  I gave them a class period and gave them the option to plan, revise, and do whatever they needed to get me that piece of writing by the end of class.  We have been working hard on a few convention pieces--indenting, writing in complete sentences, careful spelling as well as the concept of "elaboration"--working to add important details, key events, character feelings, and even dialogue to help the writing move along.  This wasn't a big project, but I wanted to give some feedback, so I created a half sheet to use as a quick feedback sheet.  Here's all I did:

I used my fun gel pens to underline misspelled words (I want students to look and see if they really KNEW how to spell the words and were just careless or if they really didn't know how to spell them.) and then quickly scored the areas on the sheet.  When I found details, cool word choice, or other examples of quality writing, I marked them on their writing with a purple check mark.  I added in a few noteworthy comments, gave the work back to the students to look at, and then did a one minute conference with each kiddo about one or two points.  What do YOU do for quick writing assessments?  How do you help students see what they are doing well and what goals still need to be addressed?  Share your ideas in the comments so we can all learn!


  1. One of the things I don't like about rubrics is exactly what you mentioned -- they are too long and use language that no one understands (including the teacher sometimes). I like the idea of only having 3-4 criteria and putting check marks by outstanding writing. This would make it so much easier for kids and would not overwhelm them. Thanks for sharing!

    Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

  2. I use COPSS for checking basic writing conventions - capitalization, organization, punctuation, spelling, and subject/verb agreement. There are more details in each category, but that's the gist of it. Then, I just write the letters (I'm thinking about making a stamp) and circle where they lost a point. Half the score goes to that, and the other half goes to writing style. It's not that far from what you're doing, but it's a nice acronym to remember it all with.

  3. We're using the Big Write this year and it has some very detailed rubrics! I like them but this is a good idea for quick marking. :) We also set goals for our kiddies based on whatever you notice in their writing - for the next piece of writing. Hopefully that way they see the goal before they start and focus on those one or two things to improve.