6 Tips to Successfully Score Student Writing Samples

Scoring a student sample or grade-level appropriate writing with the WriteSteps’ rubrics is effective because it gives your students the opportunity to see how each of the six traits works separately and together to make a strong piece.

Devin Dusseau-Bates, a 3rd grade teacher using WriteSteps, shares her tips on making the most of the six traits rubrics. Using the six traits rubrics helps students identify their own areas of strengths and weaknesses, which really boosts student confidence. (Click to Tweet!)  For example, if a student recognizes that they have a strength, called a glow, in the area of organization, but a weakness, or grow, in word choice, then they have something very specific to focus on as a writer rather than just on writing as a whole.

The key to having success with the rubrics in my classroom was making sure my students were very familiar with the six traits. Once my students understood the traits, the rubrics were a great tool to improve my students’ writing.
6 Tips to Successfully Score Student Writing Samples

Simplify!
The most helpful thing I did with my students this year was very simple. I divided the rubric in half by splitting 6-5-4 and 3-2-1. I discussed with the student how this helps them to accurately nail down a score for the traits. Dividing the upper and lower half of the rubric helped to simplify things. Then, all we had to do was specify the exact score.

Six is perfect!
Think of six as the absolute best you’ve ever seen. It’s perfect. This helps students understand that obtaining a six, while doable, takes a lot of hard work and effort, especially during the revision and editing stages of the writing process.

One is not an option!
Think of one as the absolute worst you’ve ever seen. I’ve always explained to my students that receiving a one on the rubric means that very little effort, really none at all, was put into that particular piece. I assure them that as long as they incorporate what they’re learning into their writing, revising and editing honestly, then they’ll never get a one.

Don’t talk too much
As a teacher we want to explain, and explain. Let your students do the talking. When they suggest a score, ask THEM to back it up with examples and evidence from the piece.

Don’t score every trait in one session!
I never score an entire piece on one day. The great thing about WriteSteps’ rubric lessons is that they only focus on three traits in one session (Click to Tweet!), then the remaining on the following day. This really allows for a deeper focus and understanding of the traits being scored that day. Each trait discussed and scored lends itself into a brief five minute mini lesson per trait.

Make scoring fun!
Get your students involved by allowing them to make signals for their score choices. For example, think like a baseball coach and ask students to touch their nose then the top of their head for a six! WriteSteps has Uno-Dos-Traits Cards which provide some great interaction too. The purpose of having your students score visually is so you can do a quick scan of who really knows what they’re looking for and who still needs more time understanding the traits.

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Devin Dusseau-Bates is a 3rd grade teacher for Britton Deerfield area schools in Michigan.  Her favorite part of teaching is the “ah-ha” moments her students have in the classroom. She says, “The moment when you can see the light bulb go off, and you know they’ve got it, is a great feeling! It’s amazing to be a part of that.”  Outside of teaching, Devin loves to spend time with her husband and four children. They enjoy attending sporting events, taking trips to the park, and spending time with extended family and friends.

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