I have been a bit flattened lately by goings-on in our school district. Won’t bore you with the details, but when I finally got to grading today, I was looking at what my level one kids did yesterday after they presented their stories. I didn’t really mean to have a writing assessment for them, but their stories were so good that I knew I’d want to work some more with them.

We have done very little writing, so they aren’t very good at Cyrillic, or at least they were vocal about being worried about it. I thought about my one third-year kid who is finally writing in Cyrillic this year. It just took him some time. I told them that they could use Latin or Cyrillic characters, whatever worked best for them. (This is a HUGE change for me…I’ve always been very strict, until I had that favorite kid who just couldn’t do it.)

When I assessed them on the Jefferson County rubric that Natalia found for us (click here and go to Natalia’s comment beneath the posting), those who wrote in Latin characters got a “incomprehensible to native speakers.” But they were still writing in sentences that they had created, and many of them had used up to seven or eight different verbs! I was really happy to see what they could do in just five minutes, not to mention a little bit more than impressed.

So how did I grade it? I figured that the assignment was to write the story down. If they did that and I could understand it, it didn’t matter what alphabet they used; they got a B. Three of the kids were clearly messing around, and eked out only a sentence. They got D’s (far below). A couple filled in words in English (not cognates). They got C’s. And the ones who impressed me by using connecter words (because, so, and, but) while also writing in Cyrillic…they got A’s.

I circled all the areas they seemed to reach on the Jefferson County rubric, and wrote one congratulatory and one “reach for it” comment in the extra feedback box on that page. I will tell them to keep these rubrics in their notebooks, and we’ll use the same one at the end of each grading period. I’m pretty happy about the combination of grading them at their level and assessing where they are in the grander scheme of things.


3 responses to “Writing

  1. Two other points here (hate to comment on my own post, but oh well): first, I didn’t give kids a rubric in advance for the writing, because I didn’t know I was going to do it. I will explain on Monday. Second, another piece of this whole process that worked out well was that when I went to type up stories, I chose the notebook with the most coherent of the two or three versions written by kids in a given group. They miraculously all turned in their notebooks in groups, so I could read in sets, rather than searching for the different details.


  2. I know that the “best practice” is to fill them in on the rubric…but…if I put that rubric in their heads before they write, then that is what they are thinking of and natural language does not come out. There are times when I REALLY REALLY REALLY want to see natural language,…not rubric-based language. The beauty of having a rubric is to do what you just did, show them how well they can do!!! It becomes FEEDBACK rather than a GRADE.

    We really shouldn’t tell the kids to write what “falls out of their heads” AND “remember the rubric’ at the same time……it is counter intuitive. It makes more sense to give them BACK an ‘off the top of the head” writing and ask them to make it a formal assessment by rereading and improving it. At least it makes more sense to me. :o)

    Hugs to you!!
    with love,


    • Hmm…maybe you’re right! I personally like to know what I’m aiming at when I try to do an assignment, but on little formative assessments (even though this turned sort of into summative, since it was for the quarter), they don’t really need to have a rubric every time. In this case, it’s not like I suddenly added that they have to have a beginning/middle/end of their story, or any other requirements. Just “write the story your group told.”

      Laurie, when I get my voice back (out of commission six days and counting), I need a pep talk!! Maybe I don’t really need my voice back…just to hear yours.


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