Table of Contents

Unit 3: Learning From Students’ Work and Teachers’ Lessons

Criteria Charts: Upper Elementary Example

Developing Criteria Charts as Assessment and Teaching Tools

Criteria Charts communicate to students exactly what should be included in a specific genre of writing. A four-step development process encourages student participation, understanding, and ownership. For a detailed description, download Criteria Charts: What Are They, and How Do We Create Them?

What is the tool for? In what context is it used?

The criteria included on the chart describe the features of a writing genre or assignment on which judgments may be based. For this reason, setting the criteria for assignments precedes developing a rubric. Variations of the criteria become the levels of the rubric. Without first determining the criteria, there is no rubric.

Teachers can set the criteria for their students or with their students. When students are involved, they are more likely to know what is expected because they helped to create those expectations.

How can teachers use the tool to gather and annotate information about students meeting the Common Core writing text types and purposes standards and also using genre-specific writing features and language?

The lesson example below works best for grades 2–5 opinion writing, but provides teachers in higher grades a good example of how to develop criteria charts with students that link genre features and the Common Core writing standards.

Grade 5 Example

Time to Try

Download Learning from Student Work in Fifth Grade to view the 5th-grade criteria chart and how the teacher annotated and learned from the writing of three of her students.

As you examine the chart, note the following:

  • The first page of the criteria chart draws on the 5th-grade Common Core opinion text types and purposes writing standards on the left-hand side:

    Write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information.
    1. Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which ideas are logically grouped to support the writer’s purpose.
    2. Provide logically ordered reasons that are supported by facts and details.
    3. Link opinion and reasons using words, phrases, and clauses (e.g., consequently, specifically).
    4. Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented.
  • The right-hand side of the criteria chart uses teacher and student language from classroom discussions and genre feature analyses of opinion writing.  
  • Annotations describe what the writer has learned and what the instructional next steps are for that student. The annotations serve as a guide to what the focus of a writing conference with the student will include. 
  • Discussions with students point toward the Common Core argument writing standards for grade six and seven — counterarguments and conclusions that follow from the arguments and reiterate the stance.
Time to Extend

For additional information about opinion writing for grades 3–5, which includes the 5th-grade example, download Opinion Writing: Building Skills Through Discussion, Reading, & Writing.