We've been writing a lot of stories and working on including a beginning, middle and end. I have kiddos at all different stages (probably like you do). The parents at my school are so involved so I like to be very specific when I grade so I can communicate strengths and areas of growth. That's why I love rubrics! You don't have to write a ton to explain your grading.
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For me, the 2's are "just right" for first grade. The 3's are slightly above and the 4's are excelling. I generally don't have a ton of 4's but I do have students that are exceptional writing, so I have to have that category. The 1's mean that they low in that area. Our grades are N, S-, S, S+, and E. If a student gets mostly 2's then I consider that an S (average). 3's are S+, mostly 1's would be an N and a mixture of 1's with 2's would be an S-. I didn't put the grading scale on the rubrics so you could decide what's best for you. I know this rubric may seem over the top for first graders, but this is truly what I look for at this point in the year from my writers. I feel like this rubric helps me to clearly show strengths and areas of growth. It might not be for everyone, but it works well for me. :)
I'd love to hear how you all grade writing, and any tips/suggestions you have.