assessment

Planning for Writing Instruction

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Author: Mark Overmeyer

Summary: In this brief tip from his book, When Writing Workshop Isn’t Working, Mark Overmeyer describes a process of collaborative backward planning that provides a scope and sequence for the year that meets district curriculum requirements, allows for the study of genres connected to various disciplines and units (e.g., research, narrative, memoir, and technical writing), and culminates in a student-generated magazine that draws from strategies learned throughout the year. This would be a useful resource for school-based planning teams as well as for professional development focused on writing workshop and cross-curricular planning and assessment.
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Democracy, Struggle, and the Praxis of Assessment

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Author: Tony Scott & Lil Brannon

Summary: Invited to assist in restructuring the assessment practices of a college first-year writing program, Tony Scott and Lil Brannon examine the structure and ideology of the existing assessment system, exploring how it serves to preserve the status quo by providing seemingly objective proof of the effectiveness of the prevailing formalist model of instruction. Their qualitative research examines the relationship between assessment, valuation, and the economics of first-year writing and considers how assessment practices can become reductive within set power structures and lead to normative practices that limit expectations for student writers. In the process, they expose how the existing assessment model obscures the wide variety of ways in which student writing is understood and valued by faculty and instructors.
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Teaching Writing in the Digital Age

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Author: Joel Malley

Summary: In this brief video showing footage of students engaged in myriad facets of digital writing, teacher Joel Malley unpacks ways writing forms the foundation of all learning that is enhanced through digital means—deep learning through submersion in content; collaboration, response and publishing through social media, video production and digital storytelling; and significant growth as writers. Workshop leaders might use this as an introductory invitation to generate discussion or perhaps as a model for composing similar videos to document how digital writing looks and why it matters.
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Reflecting on the Benefits of Badging: A Collection

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Author: Deanna Mascle

Summary: In this collection of blog posts, classroom teacher Deanna Mascle shares her reflections on what she sees as three benefits of using badges with her students: for assessment, for student-to-student peer response, and for recognition of the work. These blog posts capture her reflections and offer links, guiding documents, and additional resources for teachers interested in considering the possible uses of badges in their classrooms.
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Student-Made Badges as Self-Assessment

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Author: Chad Sansing

Summary: Teacher Chad Sansing explains how he uses badges, rather than as an award or symbol of achievement, as an assessment tool for student self-reflection. He approaches the students’ use of badging through the lens of digital-making and web-authorship. Through coding, the badge designs emerge and are used for critical reflection.
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TTT (Teachers Teaching Teachers) Talks Badges

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Author: Erin Wilkey Oh

Summary: This blog post from “The Current” features two videos that offer comprehensive talk-throughs about badging (credentialing) including various iterations, pros and cons, structures and practical uses in education and other contexts. Teacher leaders will find the featured discussions useful in exploring the uses and possibilities of badging.
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Honoring Dialect and Culture: Pathways to Student Success on High-Stakes Writing Assessments

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Author: Michelle Crotteau

Summary: As teachers we often struggle to find ways to honor our students’ home dialects while still preparing them to take high-stakes writing tests requiring the use of Standard English. In this piece, the author describes her three-pronged approach within a Writing Strategies class for students who had failed the state test. Students developed linguistic and mechanical fluency by speaking and writing about their interests (e.g., hunting), drawing upon their Appalachian English dialect, and by learning how to recognize audience-appropriate situations for employing both Standard English and their own dialect. Lots of student writing samples, coupled with the author’s own rationales and experience, make this a useful piece for workshops, study groups, or professional development focused on culturally relevant practices within a high-stakes testing environment.
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Book Review: The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning

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Author: Carl Nagin

Summary: This review of George Hillocks’s 2002 book, The Testing Trap: How State Writing Assessments Control Learning, is still a relevant read, providing history and research connected to the issues involved in high stakes state writing tests. The review details the validity and reliability of such tests, the scoring processes, the variety of tests from state to state, and the range of knowledge about writing held by teachers who score. Worthy of a teacher book group or a school-wide reading, this review could be used as a gateway to this book written by a distinguished researcher in the field of composition.
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Improving Students’ Academic Writing: Building a Bridge to Success

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Author: Juliet Wahleithner, Jayne Marlink

Summary: This report would be of interest to those embarking on college-preparatory reading/writing initiatives; it describes the statistically significant impact of a statewide professional development program designed to improve students’ understanding and ability to write academically in high school, and specifically in grades 11 and 12. The authors clearly lay out the study’s purpose, methods, and guiding frameworks, including one for forming sustained professional learning communities.
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Promises of Coherence, Weak Content, and Strong Organization: An Analysis of the Student Text

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Author: Margaret Kantz

Summary: This report looks at ways in which college freshmen interpreted and negotiated an assignment calling for writing based on reading, along with how teachers then judged the abilities and preparation of the students based on that writing. The study discovered that students and teachers had different understandings of the expectations of the task and that such tasks are more difficult and complex for students than teachers realize. Although an older article, the conclusions of this research are still relevant in understanding the difficult transition from high school writing to college academic discourse. This article would be a useful starting point for discussions of how teachers must examine their assumptions about students’ interpretations of assignments. In addition, it might serve as a model of inquiry into the writing process of students.
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