Assessment. Is there anything basic about it? As I’ve lamented about what to post on this topic today, I decided to look back and share how I survived assessing writing when I first began teaching according to the Writing Workshop philosophy nearly nine years ago. Here is a golden nugget:
Assess writing through different lenses.
The first pieces I assessed using a very crude form. On the left side I listed: Process; Craft; and Conventions. The column to the right gave a few words to identify each (ie: revision; leads; capitalization). Then there were three big boxes for comments on each of the lenses. I commented like crazy. Then assigned a letter grade — mainly according to my gut.
When I studied with Carl Anderson, I learned to refine this process. He teaches to look at writing through different lenses, but his lenses are stronger and give a more accurate interpretation of student writing. Carl shares these six lenses to assess student writing: Meaning; Structure; Genre Knowledge; Details; Sentence Structure; and Conventions. Here’s another golden nugget:
I’d love to hear how others first attempted to assess student writing. What did you do to help your assessment align with your beliefs of teaching writing according to the Writing Workshop philosophy? I no longer use the system I described above. However, I think it is good to reminisce about where we started so that we can understand the journey and why we assess how we do today.
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