Differentiated Writing Paper with Rubrics

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about teaching kids to write is that we often bombard a child with too much at once.

“Don’t forget to put a capital.”   “Did you put a period at the end?”   “Check the word wall!”

This can often overwhelm beginning writers!  Nothing really “sticks” and children start to form a negative self-image of themselves as writers.  Scroll below to see how our differentiated writing paper with rubrics can help. Then, check out our awesome Writing Center Starter Kit in our shop!

Differentiated Writing Paper with Rubrics

Working on One Skill a Week

This school year, I decided to take a slow-and-steady approach to help my first grade students develop into better writers and not feel overwhelmed getting back into “school mode.”

The first week of school, I gathered my students on the carpet and told them that they would become amazing writers this year and would have so many fun opportunities to be an author.

Each week, we would focus on just ONE thing to help our writing, starting with checking for periods at the end of our sentences.  No matter what we wrote, I praised my students for putting a period at the end.

And for my kiddos who had already mastered this skill, I challenged them to consider whether a sentence needed a period, question mark, or exclamation point.

I even wrote sentences on the board and purposely left the punctuation off so that I could hear my class shout out, “You FORGOT the period!!!”.

Differentiated Writing Paper

Even though I have my students write a variety of things each day throughout the school year, one thing that is always out on the writing table is our “free write paper” – sheets students grab when they have finished an assigned writing piece and are ready to move on to something new.

To get my differentiated writing papers ready, I printed each rubric “level” out on a different color of Astrobrights paper to make it easy for kids to find their “just right” sheet.

Differentiated Writing Paper with Rubrics

After introducing our first skill “put a period at the end,” I showed off the colorful free write paper and explained that my students could write about anything they could imagine.

The first week I started out with just the pink writing papers on our table, but after teaching a new writing skill each week, I put the next color out.

Now there are multiple differentiated writing papers for my kiddos to choose.  Most of my students like to challenge themselves with the most difficult rubric available, but others sometimes choose to work on just one or two things.

I love the fact that my first graders have choices, and that I can easily differentiate what writing skills my students are held accountable for.

Differentiated Writing Paper with Rubrics

Grab Your Copy

Ready to download SIX different versions of this writing paper and help your students maintain their writing skills throughout the year?! Just click the blue download button below and then hop over and snag our Writing Center Starter Kit, too!

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  1. elizabeth lee

    This is a great writing tool for First Grade.

    Our school will be using it for a beginning of year assessment; it is perfect for what we are planning, so thank you!

  2. Rebecca

    I love the different expectations for different students. What do the numbers mean?

  3. Kimberleigh

    Hello Rebecca,

    Thanks for the great questions the writing rubrics do have the numbers on the bottom of the page to help teachers check the pages. By the time you work through all six versions of the paper the bottom square will look like this.

    Period at the end: 1 2 3
    Capital at the beginning: 1 2 3
    Finger spaces: 1 2 3
    Word Wall words spelled correctly: 1 2 3
    Lowercase letters in the middle: 1 2 3
    My illustration matches my words: 1 2 3

    The teacher circling:
    1 means this skill is missing or still needs work.
    2 means that the students got some of the skill right but not all.
    3- the student got all of this skill correct.

    The great thing about this page is that it is flexible to what you as the teacher feels right for the student to be graded by.

    Hope this helps!


    Kimberleigh // Happiness Ambassador

  4. JoAnne Brown

    I like the individual writing rubrics posted on your blog. They are different colors and it is just the rubric printed on bright colors. I cannot find it anywhere. Is this available? It is pictured on first grade writing. Thank you so much!

  5. Beckie

    Thank you so much for the Differentiated Writing Paper with Rubrics. Love your idea on focusing one just one thing each week. I have always struggled teaching writing. I was just wondering if you have any writing lesson available in your store.

    • Kimberleigh

      Hi Beckie,
      Thanks for the kind words! We love the way these papers break down the writing process so simply.
      We don’t have any writing lessons in our store, but we will add it to the wish list.

  6. Cindy

    It’s so simple yet genius!! Thank you very much for sharing.
    Positive vibes your way 🙂

    • Kimberleigh

      Thanks Cindy!
      I hope your classroom enjoys them.

  7. Debra Alexander

    Hi Kimberleigh,

    In Australia, we call a period a full stop. I love your differentiated writing paper. It would be wonderful to have a set that has full stop on it instead of period.


    • Kimberleigh

      Hello Deb,
      Thanks so much for stopping by and giving us that suggestion.
      We will add it to the wish list.

  8. Jodie

    Is there a chance I can still get these (differentiated writing sheets)? There was an error when I tried to download.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Ashley

      Hi Jodie,
      Yes! They are still available to download.
      You may want to check out THIS VIDEO if you;re having trouble downloading.
      Ashley // Happiness Ambassador



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