Margin Notes

Single Point Rubrics


As teachers of writing, we know that specific and timely feedback is necessary for the students we teach to progress as writers. The need to be able to name what moves they are making as a writer and get feedback on their decisions as they are writing, not after they have written. But this can often feel like an overwhelming task when you might only get through a handful of conferences during class time.

A few years ago, Michelle Wuest (SPR of English at Leo Hayes High School) shared a blog post from Cult of Pedagogy on single point rubrics. And in short time my ability to give feedback to students as they wrote was transformed.

As with everything you come across as a teacher, its use needs to be adapted to fit with the curriculum, the standards, and the unique needs of the students you teach. So with that in mind, here is an image of single point rubrics as shown by Jennifer Gonzalez from Cult of Pedagogy:

What was instantly attractive about this rubric was that the criteria were listed for students and that it required writing feedback as opposed to a number or a percentage. I also figured that if it would help me give feedback, it could help the students I was teaching give each other feedback as well.

Here is what some typical single point rubric look like for me in terms of daily feedback:


Appropriate Criteria


  • Create smooth transitions between paragraphs.

Note: You might use bullets from different traits, all the bullets in one trait, a single bullet, or any part of a bullet.

Some changes I made included pulling the criteria from our provincial writing standards, using the writing language that is consistent with these standards (appropriate and strong) and switching the order of the columns to first celebrate where a student had surpassed the criteria before providing feedback on where they need to revisit their writing.

Students are only given feedback on the mini-lessons explicitly taught that day or over the previous days. This is what keeps the single point rubric specific. And we know, as teachers and from research, that too much feedback can overwhelm a writer.  The mini-lesson on this particular day included the reading of mentor texts and noticing the transition words that helped guide the reader and create flow in the writing, and so the feedback on their writing that day was only on a single bullet. Sometimes you will be talking about an entire trait in a lesson, so you might give feedback on more than one bullet.

And for teachers in ASD-W, we have the criteria typed up for grades 6-12, so if you want to try using single-point rubrics, send us a message and we’ll gladly send you an e-copy.

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