Grading rubrics can be of great benefit to both you and your students. For you, a rubric saves time and decreases subjectivity. Specific criteria are explicitly stated, facilitating the grading process and increasing your objectivity. For students, the use of grading rubrics helps them to meet or exceed expectations, to view the grading process as being fair, and to set goals for future learning.
In order to help your students meet or exceed expectations of the assignment, be sure to discuss the rubric with your students when you assign an essay. It is helpful to show them examples of written pieces that meet and do not meet the expectations. As an added benefit, because the criteria are explicitly stated, the use of the rubric decreases the likelihood that students will argue about the grade they receive. The explicitness of the expectations helps students know exactly why they lost points on the assignment and aids them in setting goals for future improvement.
- Routinely have students score peers essays using the rubric as the assessment tool. This increases their level of awareness of the traits that distinguish successful essays from those that fail to meet the criteria. Have peer editors use the Reviewers Comments section to add any praise, constructive criticism, or questions.
- Alter some expectations or add additional traits on the rubric as needed. Students needs may necessitate making more rigorous criteria for advanced learners or less stringent guidelines for younger or special needs students. Furthermore, the content area for which the essay is written may require some alterations to the rubric. In social studies, for example, an essay about geographical landforms and their effect on the culture of a region might necessitate additional criteria about the use of specific terminology.
- After you and your students have used the rubric, have them work in groups to make suggested alterations to the rubric to more precisely match their needs or the parameters of a particular writing assignment.
I have used this assignment with both 6th and 7th graders, but it could be adapted for 8th or 9th grade as well. It provides some suggested persuasive writing topics (non-political and non-religious in nature), but you could allow students to expand from those options. Students are required to find at least 3 research sources (1 per body paragraph), and learn to use MLA in-text parenthetical citations and how to write an MLA bibliography.
It also includes a propaganda/media requirement and for students to present their essay and propaganda to the class in an oral presentation (I have my students read their essays as they would speeches, but not memorize them). The oral presentation component targets many of the speaking & listening common core standards for middle grades.
This pdf includes:
Assignment Sheet with expectations for each piece of the assignment & space for writing in due dates
Outline printable pages for students to use to write essay outline
Essay Revision tasks
Essay Self-and-Peer Editing Checklist
Checklists for students to use before turning in their final assignment
Rubric for grading, with criteria broken down into the 6 writing traits + propaganda + presentation
My other writing assignment bundles and individual rubrics from those bundles may be purchased from my TPT store at https:www.teacherspayteachers.com/The-Margaret-Ann