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Developing Writers: A Workshop for High School Teachers

Build a Rubric Activity

Rubrics provide students with clear expectations and consistent feedback. Build a customizable rubric that can be used for any writing activity your class might be completing.

 “I think kids need to know that their writing – what’s on the page – has value.”

Kylene Beers

Rubrics are an important tool for all teachers. They carefully explain the criteria that will be used to judge a particular piece of student work.

Rubrics benefit both teachers and students. By using a rubric:

  • Teachers have a complete analysis of every student’s work measured against a consistent scale.
  • Teachers can provide better feedback to student writers.
  • Students clearly understand what is expected of them in a particular assignment.
  • Students can clearly see the areas of their writing that need improvement.

In this activity, you will build a customizable rubric that can be used for any writing activity your class might be completing. Follow the steps to complete the rubric.

Build a Rubric

Teacher tip: Creating rubrics with students before an assignment begins can help them see the task before them more clearly.

Step 1

Give your rubric a title.

Step 2

Choose a format. Click on an image below to view a larger version of Table Format and List Format examples.

 Table Format
 List Format


Step 3

Apply a rating system.

Numbers 4 – 1 (with 4 being the highest and 1 the lowest)

  • Advanced, proficient, basic, needs improvement
  • Excellent, good, fair, unacceptable
  • Exemplary, accomplished, developing, beginning
  • Excellent, nearing standard, improving, emerging
  • Strong, proficient, basic, weak

Step 4

Decide the order in which you want the rating system to appear:

  • Best to worst (i.e., 4 – 3 – 2 – 1 or excellent – good – fair – unacceptable)
  • Worst to best (i.e., 1 – 2 – 3 – 4 or unacceptable – fair – good – excellent)

Step 5

Select the criteria or elements of the writing assignment you will evaluate.
Add as many criteria as you need, and write a performance statement for each.

Some criteria are more appropriate for one kind of assignment. For example, characterization and description are more suited for use in rubrics that evaluate creative writing.

Paragraph Development
Sentence Variety
Story Structure
Word Choice


Step 6

Review the list of criteria and performance statements you have selected.

Arrange them in the order you want them to appear in your document.

Step 7

Congratulations. You have completed your rubric.