Using "5 Stars" for Emergent Writing

Using "5 Stars" for Emergent Writing

5starpicsAs many of us know, writing begins with pictures for little ones. Furthermore,research has shown that more elaborate drawings translate into better writing for the long-term.  The theory goes that more details in drawings will produce more details in their actual writing later on, when the students have the skills to be proficient.

So I found this rubric years ago and really loved it.  I believe that when children know of what is expected, they rise to the occasion. That is especially true of little children who are eager to show how “big” they are. Rubrics and checklists are vital for providing feedback and I strive to use them in everything, from behavior to literacy. Since children love stickers, I find that using “5 Stars” to indicate high quality work is an effective way to get them to consider their effort. However, this sheet just really wasn’t enough to stimulate quality pictures.

So I made a display with pictures that would be indicative of each level of effort. As a result of having these examples, students are often going up to the display and comparing their work, as well as providing feedback to each other at the tables. It’s great to hear their conversations, and of course to see them develop as “writers”.


Of course, one of the dangers of using rubrics like this is that once they meet expectations, how to more them beyond and into real writing. The transition between getting them to start writing “words” or captions into sentences seems like such a big jump sometimes for 4-5 year olds. But it’s the next step in my quest for encouraging the development of writing.

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Judy Imamudeen

Judy Imamudeen

Developing learners as leaders is my joy! As a highly qualified International Baccaluearate (IB) teacher and educational leader, I am committed and passionate about executing its framework and empowering students in creating a future world that works for everyone.

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