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Assessing.

piles according to strength of writing
piles according to strength of writing
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!

Ruth Ayres View All

Unhurried. Finding the magic in the middle of living. Capturing a life of ridiculous grace + raw stories.

2 thoughts on “Assessing. Leave a comment

  1. Thanks for your enthusiasm for marking!

    I just returned a story to my students along with the assessment rubric I used. like you, my rubric includes the specific skills we worked on (dialogue this time around, and including a clear problem/solution) I didn’t assign an over-all grade. Instead I told them they should look at each skill and see how each skill could be improved for the next project. They were worried at first because they want to know if it is an A, or a B. But, once they realized that this sheet told them exactly what to work on for next time, I think they were empowered. If I taught high school, I think assigning the “FINAL GRADE” would bother me too.

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