Thinking Teaching Creating

Thoughts, Tips, Ideas, and Projects from a Creative Teacher Mama

Lucy Calkins Writing Workshop + 6-Trait Writing: First Rubric Complete!

I’ve been planning to attempt to put together the Lucy Calkins units for writing workshop with 6-trait writing for quite awhile now.  I love how Lucy’s units are organized and have a focus of getting kids to write about things that are interesting and meaningful to them, but sometimes have difficulty scoring them.  Another thing I feel like they lack is definite links to grammar rules, so I need to be really careful to add in those lessons.  Since many of the workshop units have fewer minilessons than necessary to fill a month, those “extra” days are where I plan to do specific grammar lessons.

But back to the rubrics.  The versions of the writing workshop units I have do not include any rubrics at all; I don’t have copies of the book, I have essentially “cheat sheet” versions of each unit from my district that were developed from the books.  Because of that, I started with the 6-trait writing rubrics, which are available online for free at Education Northwest’s website.  There are different versions for K-2 and grades 3-12, along with different point scales.  I created an editable version of the condensed grades 3-12 rubric by copying and pasting, and added another page from the 5-point grades 3-12 rubric by copying and pasting the publishing section (not included on the condensed rubric).

From there, I made a copy of the editable version, and highlighted each letter in the 5-point section that seemed to be a goal in the Lucy Calkins unit I created a rubric for (4th grade, unit 1).  Next, I went back and deleted the letters that weren’t included in the unit.  The way the rubric is structured, each section has several items that are looked for, and they are formatted in a lettered list.  When I deleted criteria, I deleted the words, but not the letter it was beside.  I want my students to know that other criteria will be expected later, and if I put a coded note on a student’s paper to show they did something particularly well, or that they should specifically work on improving one skill (WC-B would mean Word Choice, criteria B), I want the code to mean the same thing all year long.  I’m also keeping a copy of my rubric where I did the highlighting so the next unit’s rubric already has a starting point.  If I’ve already taught a skill in the rubric, I’m going to expect students to continue to use it in the next unit.

Here are my resources so far:

To edit the resources above, click them, go to file, and make a copy in your Google Drive, or go to file, download as Microsoft Word (docx.).  To use them as-is, just click the link you want and print, or download as a pdf.  

When I create the rubrics for further units, I’ll probably put newly added skills in bold or otherwise show which skills are new to the rubric and which ones students have been working on for more than one unit.  I think that will be helpful for myself, my students, and their parents.  If a skill has been on the rubric for more than one unit and a student is earning only 1 point in that area, that’s a red flag that we need to do something differently for that child.  Maybe we need to have small group or individual instruction on that particular skill, it needs to be a conference focus, etc.  Either way, the student can’t fix it if they a) don’t know it’s a problem and b) aren’t given help to improve.

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Quadblogging is Awesome – You Should Sign Up

What is Quadblogging you ask?  Well, it’s awesome, that’s what it is!  Imagine a classroom where students are begging to write (whether it’s shared writing or independent writing), and simply a flutter with anticipation to see what comments were left about their writing.  Think about a time you took a moment to read something, and your class learned about something unexpected, yet important.  Quadblogging is simply chock full of those kinds of moments.

Are you intrigued yet?  Good.  The nitty gritty of it is that Quadblogging is a group of four classrooms who maintain blogs.  There are two rounds of it done per year; one in Sept.-Dec. and one in the spring that goes into July.  That one lasts far after my school year ends, so I’m not particularly sure what the dates are.  Sorry.  As I was saying, each class maintains a blog.  You take turns being the featured blog of the week.  When your class is the featured blog, you write your little hearts out.  During your featured week, your whole class feels like superstar writers because all three of the other classes come leave comments on your blog.  When you aren’t the featured class, you leave comments on the featured blog for that week.  You’re always welcome to write on your own blog or leave comments, but having a designated week for each blog ensures readers and comments at least one week in every rotation.

Last year, my quad included us from the USA, two classes from the U.K., and one class from Australia.  We had very natural discussions about time zones and seasons in different parts of the world because of where our blogging buddies were located.  We learned that kids in Australia finish their school year just before Christmas, and return sometime later in what is winter for us to begin a new grade.  (That was a major “duh moment” for me.  I knew their summer was during our winter, but it never occurred to me that their school year would end so they have their summer off as well.  I just never thought about it.)  We discussed how (and if) we celebrate Halloween.  We talked about the weather.  We shared our field trips with one another.  My class learned that no matter where you live, people are still people.  They also learned that if we, the class in the last time zone in the group, wrote a blog post on Friday afternoon at the end of our feature week, it may not get comments because our friends are all home in bed.

Do your class a favor and sign up.

Want an easy to use blogging format for your class? Try Kidblog!  You can have one username for yourself and write blog posts together, or you can give individual students their own blogs.  If the kids get their own blogs, there’s one central blog page, and you can see recent posts or click on usernames to read a certain post or a particular author.