Today my students turned in their narratives. I couldn’t wait to read them, so I began today during my lunch. I was touched by their writing, and impressed by the significant revisions many of them made.
Tonight (as my kids were coloring) I looked over the narratives again and began to pile them according to strength. That’s what you see in the photo.
I’ve done this since I started assessing writing. I find that I’m more accurate when I read work that is of a similar caliber and then assess it. Moving from one “pile” to another also offers a natural break for the teacher. 🙂
I think this is especially important this time around because I’m using a new grading sheet. (Thanks Penny Kittle! This system is totally lifted from her.) It is a list of different lenses in which to assess the writing (Meaning, Structure, Voice, Details, Sentence Style, and Conventions). Then under each category there are a few qualities that we’ve studied & I’m assessing. For example, under Details, there is: the story is rich in sensory detail. This is something we’ve studied in depth (and is a ninth grade Indiana state standard).
Instead of assigning points to each category, there is simply the list of qualities. Then, looking at the work holistically, I’ll attach a score to the work. As Penny teaches, writers need more feedback than evaluation. This is a way to place the importance on the feedback. There is a standing invitation that students can always rewrite for a better score. Therefore, it makes returning papers with a lower score a little easier.
I’ve scored about three and it’s getting easier. I loathe assigning a grade to writing when I know the work is about so much more than a grade. However, such is life. With this system, I feel that I’m giving a more accurate representation of how the writing meets the standard, while at the same time offering meaningful feedback to the writer.
Okay . . . off to dinner and then more assessing. I love this teaching life!
Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.