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:


Picture Books in Grades 6-12


Although we often think of picture books for younger readers, there are unlimited opportunities to incorporate them into Grades 6-12 classrooms also.  Because they are short, they make excellent mentor texts to use in mini-lessons or to demonstrate writing techniques since you can read them more than once in a short amount of time.  They can be used to develop background knowledge about a concept or topic or for quick writes and writer’s notebook responses.  Picture books can invite dialogue about tough topics and complex ideas. Most importantly, though, they bring students together into a shared experience that invites everyone in the reading community to celebrate beautiful words and images.

It can take time and money to develop an extensive library of picture books, so my advice is to start with one or two titles that you can use in several ways.  Here are four of my recent favorites and some suggestions for using them in your classroom:

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles written by Michelle Cuevas and illustrated by Erin E. Stead

  • Practice describing the author’s style and selecting evidence or examples from the text.
  • Practice describing the illustrator’s style and selecting evidence or examples from the text.
  • Focus on figurative language by inviting students to choose their favorite example, respond to it in their writer’s notebook, and then use it as a model for their own writing.