What does "Writes Clearly and Effectively" mean?
Ridgefield uses the 6+1 Traits of Writing as a framework to teach good writing.  Here are the list of the traits and a brief definition of each.  The questions listed with each trait are used to score student work.
Idea/Content: Is the writing focused on one main idea?  Is the main idea supported with interesting details?  Does the piece contain original ideas?  Does the writing make sense?
Organization: Does the beginning of the piece of writing grab the reader's attention?  Are there transitions to connect ideas and details?  Does the writing follow a logical sequence?  Does the ending sum up the main ideas?
Word Choice: Does the writer use new words effectively?  Do the words create detailed pictures in the readers' mind?  Does the writer avoid repeated words?  Are ideas expressed with strong and precise language? 
Sentence Fluency: Do sentences have different beginnings?  Do sentences vary in length?  Does the story flow nicely?  Did I use a variety of sentences?
Voice: Does the writing show emotion?  Does the writing sound like me?  Did I think about my audience when I wrote?  Did I think about the purpose of my writing?
Conventions: Did I use appropriate capitals?  Did I use appropriate punctuation?  Is each word spelled correctly?  Did I use proper English?  (See The Big 5- Non Negotiables below)
Presentation: Is the piece of writing written neatly?  Do the words and the pictures look nice on the page? 
The Big 5—Non-Negotiables
These are the second grade expectations with regards to conventions.

1. Capitalization
  • First letter in first and last name
  • First word in a sentence
  • The pronoun “I”
  • Names of people
  • No random capitals in words or within sentences

2. Punctuation

  • Periods or question mark at ends of sentences
  • Commas in a list (We ate pizza, salad, and bread.)
  • Commas in a date (January 16, 2006)

3. Spelling

  • Nonnegotiable words- These must be spelled correctly at all times.
because     they     are     said    have   
why    can't     the     and     does
won't     didn't     very     I     when
you     from     was     what     who

4. Usage

  • Use complete sentences (I saw a bear.)

5. Handwriting

Writing topics sorted by grade level
Print a graphic organizer to plan a story
Five easy ways to support writing at home