In several places, I comment, "Continue to monitor the child's writing to score the trait." You may wonder why I would say this when each piece is being scored individually.
When we teach writing and the traits, we want to move a child along the continuum constantly. In areas where a case could be made for one of two scores, this is a sign that a child is ready to move along, with a little help. Scores will vary from piece to piece, but we need to be aware of where a child is generally working, in order to help them improve. Thus, the comment about monitoring a trait.
Additionally, although none of the papers presented shows it, when a child is generally working at most traits on a 5 level, it is time to move them to the 3-12 rubric. The purpose of the K-2 rubric is to be able to know something about the emerging writer's work. If these works were scored on the 3-12 rubric, we would know nothing. Once the child is at the top of the K-2 rubric, it is time to move them on, because we will be able to differentiate scores on their work.
Teachers need to be aware of another problem seen often in emerging writing. Lower case b and d confuse children. Their solution is often to make those letters capitals, such as "DaD." If those are the only misplaced capitals that children are using in their writing, check the conventions carefully. This should not keep them on a score of 2.
When scoring emergent writers' papers, you may find that you can check some things under one category and others under another. Give the score where most of the checks are. When scoring emergent papers, I find it very helpful to have one rubric for each paper being scored. I put the checks in the categories, and then it is easy to see where the child's strengths are. If you are keeping the paper for the portfolio, staple your scoring rubric to the paper, or a copy of the paper.
Unless it is the paper you are turning in to your district as the year's assessment, do not score a child's writing on more than 2 traits at the same time. Like the rest of us, children have a hard time remembering more than 2 things they have to do. If you must score more than 2, do not do them on the same day. Separate your scoring sessions by 3-4 days.
Another way to handle this is to get together with 5 of your colleagues. Bring everyone's papers. Each of you scores all the papers for one trait. This develops consistency in scoring, because you have so much experience in one trait and because one person is scoring all the papers for that trait. One gets very good at understanding the one trait!
When we use the scored papers, we want to emphasize to the child, the parent, and to ourselves, what the child can do, and not what he can't do. Teachers do need to assess what the next step in teaching a child is, and to think in that sense about what they can't do, but it is generally best to keep the positive in mind.
If there is a child in a higher grade level or a resource room who is a struggling writer, flatlining with ones across the 3-12 rubric, it is appropriate to drop back to the K-2 rubric to score the papers. Otherwise, we again know little or nothing about the child's writing. If the purpose of the 6 Traits is to help a child improve his writing, and I believe it is, we must know where he is working.
If you are a resource teacher working with students who need to be scored on the K-2 rubric, even though they may be grade 3 or higher, be sure to write on the IEP which rubric you are using. It is conceivable that a resource teacher might use one rubric for some traits and the other rubric for other traits. Perhaps the child is very good at ideas and voice but has a poor grasp of conventions, for example.
There is one last thing we must always keep in mind. We all have objectivity issues. Our goal is to be as fair and consistent as we can from child to child. If you know that you cannot be objective about a child, for whatever reason, have someone else score that child's work.
If there is a particular issue about which you have intense feelings, for example you don't care for sarcasm, you are sick of papers about Disneyland or trips to Mexico, or the physical characteristics of a paper make it difficult for you to be objective, then be sure to get help from a colleague. Perhaps you can trade papers for the things each of you have an objectivity problem.
Some people have trouble scoring writing which did not go in a direction they had hoped. When we give a child a prompt, it should be open ended enough for them to be able to address the topic in a variety of ways. Try to be open-minded about children's responses to a prompt.
It is my hope that you will find these papers helpful in developing a consistent and fair rating ability. Remember that the rubric is not a grade, but an estimate of where a child is along the continuum from "Not a Writer" to "An Outstanding Writer." Above all, enjoy the children's writing and try not to stress yourself into illness.
1st Grade Samples|
2nd Grade Samples|