the daring diva, Suzanne
The devil's in the details- what does that even mean?! Well, for our writing game, there is much to be learned in the details. Where do we learn the subtle nuances that the graders favor? How do we assess trends to drive instruction? There is much to be learned from the wording of the state rubric and scoring guide.
Let me talk first to teachers- (I mean, come on, who else is reading this blog? Hi Mom!)
You owe it to your students to print off, mark up, and grade using the state rubric. Consider the wording- what is there and what is noticeably absent. Value these things in your instruction and grading. Texas teachers- click here for links to the 4th, 7th, English I and English II resources and scoring guides.
BUT DON'T STOP THERE! (I'm not yelling- I just really mean it!) If we know what the state wants, why would we keep this information to ourselves. Make students masters of the rubric. Currently in my class, we are wrapping up personal narrative writing and building a foundation for expository writing. Before we leave narrative writing, I want students to have a strong understanding of the rubric and feel empowered knowing that they have skills and strategies required in the upper end of the rubric. I created this "student friendly" personal narrative rubric using the 4th grade STAAR rubric. It uses most of the exact wording from the original but is "friendly" mainly because it fits on one page. Ha!
We spent a class period reading and marking key words and phrases for each score point. We talk about and write in strategies that we have to get those points- pitchforks, Ba-Da-Bings, Star Point words, compound and complex sentences... I also like to tie the "wordy" rubric to these house images from Gretchen Bernabei. I love how it helps students "see" the differences in the types of writing. A devolved essay is also a quick and easy way for students to apply and use wording from the rubric.
In a second class period, student groups are given a pack of unmarked student essays from the scoring guide. Students create a T-chart detailing the positives and negatives of the writing. Based on their conversation and chart, students score the essays and justify using the wording from the rubric.
It is so important for students to have mastery of the rubric. They know what is expected, and they know what they have to get there. It reinforces the idea that you do what your taught- play like you've practiced. It's that simple! No devil in those details.