Thursday, January 30, 2014

Growing Students' Writing Skill

Like a mountain, students' many writing pieces were piled before me ready for review.  With report cards complete and transition to new units done, I created a new, quicker way to assess those writing pieces looking for the main teaching/learning points.  Then I ascended that paper peak.  Now with a better understanding of each child's strengths and challenges in that area, I'll turn the papers over to children and families for their own review and assessment.

As students look over their work, my comments, and the criteria for success (terrific written responses), they'll have a chance to reflect on their work, growth, and efforts to come.  Then I'll meet with each child, review their goals and reflections, and together, we'll set some collective goals too.  After that, they'll bring their work home for family review.  Parents have been asked to sign off and include comments if they wish on the reflection sheet.  In a sense, this effort will inspire the entire learning community to get behind this goal and lend their support as students move towards greater skill with regard to writing a reading response well.

In Massachusetts, it has been a long held goal that fourth graders read text across genre and answer a wide variety of open response questions. A good response requires a topic sentence that restates the question, four specific pieces of evidence/examples from the text, four explanations that include rich vocabulary/precise language, transition words, and an ending that recaps the response including the "big idea" answer.

Tonight, I will move from this analysis to the analysis of students' narrative writing, another worthy, but challenging goal as every fourth grader is also required to learn how to write a multi-page narrative that includes organization, craft, rich vocabulary, transition words, story elements, and voice--I'm sure that will be the topic of tomorrow's post. Stay tuned.