Published March 31, 2008
Accountability , Achievement , Assessment , assessment for learning , Concept Map , Formative , Formative assessment , Graphic Organizer
Tags: Class, Concept Map, Education, ELA, English, Formative, Formative assessment, Graphing Organizer, Learning Gaps, Structure, write, Writing
This semester has reaffirmed that students who complete a graphic organizer are better essay writers. They have pre-organized their ideas and many even do a quick check to verify that everything fits where it should and there are no duplicates of the same idea. They are not “winging” it. When students write down random ideas and call it an outline, their writing gets very random.
Next semester, I am going to go even heavier on the graphic organizer. I will only accept their essays if they have completed their thesis statement, three pieces of evidence and the supporting details on their graphic organizer. For some writing assignments, I have elongated a graphic organizer to cover two pages so that they do not run out of writing space. Most of the students who had learning gaps this semester had thinking learning gaps; they did not have enough evidence or they did not have details to support their thesis. Some students had grammar learning gaps but even then I could understand their ideas or lack of ideas.
I want to reduce their revisions or rather make their revisions to change from being proficient to above proficient instead of going from below proficient to barely proficient. I hope to raise the bar for them.
Published March 30, 2008
Accountability , Achievement , Assess , Assessment , assessment for learning , Checklist , Composition , ELA , English , Essay , Formative , Formative assessment , formative feedback , Guide , handout , scaffold , Structure , write , Writing
Tags: Checklist, Composition, Education, ELA, English, Formative, Formative assessment, Guidelines, scaffold, Structure, write, Writing
I’ve been revising my writing handouts for my next semester classes. I’ve tried to create a step-by-step approach in the order that they would actually do the steps and then in the checklist I repeat the steps such as for a contrast paper:
“Do I include two items in my thesis?”
“Do I directly state that I am contrasting them?”
“Do I include a detail for the first item, a contrast transition word and then a detail for the second item?”
Hopefully, if the students have followed the step-by-step approach then they will just confirm those items in their actual writing as they do the checklist on their draft. If they have missed a step then, they can catch it in the checklist and revise it before handing it in.
My students have wonderful and dramatic stories to tell; they need a structure in which to tell them well. Hopefully, the revised step-by-step process will give them the scaffold they need.
Published March 29, 2008
21st Century Skills , Assess , Assessment , assessment for learning , Formative , Formative assessment , Model , Think , Think aloud , write , Writing
Tags: Class, Digital, Education, ELA, English, Formative, Formative assessment, Learn, Model, Modeling, Think aloud, write, Writing, YouTube
I’ve spend several hours this morning working on a think-aloud about writing a contrast paper that I will, hopefully, record tomorrow and post to YouTube. I have found that as I went to create charts to represent my thinking about how to write a contrast paper, I had to insert more details. I would have to stop myself and say, “What am I thinking now?” I had to add details one by one to represent how a student would think. What are three main differences? The first is … The second is… Also, as a teacher, I had to think of where the students were likely to make mistakes and to emphasize those points. For example, often writing students write down evidence without thinking of how it provides a contrast to the evidence already existing for a certain category.
It is a challenging exercise to do a think-aloud in which I, as a teacher, have to think through each mental step a student needs to make. I now realize that, in the past, I made some mental leaps in my instruction and I now understand why numerous students did not leap with me.
Have you created a think-aloud?
Published March 28, 2008
Academic , Accountability , Achievement , Assess , Assessment , assessment for learning , Final , Formative , Formative assessment , formative feedback , Portfolio
Tags: Checklist, Class, Demonstration, Education, Eportfolio, Final, Formative, Formative assessment, Portfolio, Rubric, Standard
In my business writing course I’ve assigned a portfolio as the final. The students are to show that they can write each type of business letter. They are to show the changes in their business letters from their first attempts to their arriving at proficiency.
I wrote up the outline of their portfolio. I decided to give them a checklist to guide them through the portfolio process. I made sure that each portfolio requirement had all of its parts listed.
Then I decided to do a model portfolio for them. I deliberately selected a business communication that they had not done. I went through and began doing each part required in the portfolio. As I did, I realized that my wording was vague or did not allow them to focus on the aspects of each business letter. I realized that some parts needed to be moved around. I omitted some aspects that now seem non-productive rather than demonstrating the type of writing. It was not until I did the portfolio that I learned how to make it a better demonstration of the students’ learning. I am sure that when I assess their portfolios, I will look at them different than if I had not done the portfolio myself! I will have to change my rubric to reflect those changes.
Have you actually done your own portfolio? Your own final?
Published March 27, 2008
Activity , Assessment , assessment for learning , Formative , Formative assessment , formative feedback , Guide , Lecture , Podcast , Podcasting , Power Point , PowerPoint , Sage , Standard , technology
Tags: choice, Class, Demonstration, Education, emovie, Feedback, Formative, Formative assessment, Learn, Lecture, Podcast, Power Point
I like to rent Redbox movies, those red kiosco in grocery stores and McDonalds. I can preview the available titles from the comfort of my home; I can take my time to decide which movie I want. I can even rent the movie online so that it is ready for me when I get to the store. I can return it to any Redbox.
I wonder what school would be like if we could have more options and choices available to students. Sure all students have to learn the same basic standards. How much choice do we give the students in how they go about doing it? Do we provide lectures, demonstrations, guided instructions, interactive activities, group activities, and self-tests in various digital formats for them? By using technology we can have many different forms of learning the standard available to the students. What, if instead of lock stepping the class in terms of the students’ learning, we freed up the class to make their own choices? They can select in what order or format to see/hear/experience the learning.
We can start small with podcasts, emovies, and interactive Power Points as we build up our library. Imagine if a department (all English teachers in 9th grade) worked together to create these resources. Then we as teachers could really be guides on the side instead of the sage on the stage. We can spend time in providing formative feedback to students in one-on-one and small groups instead of being infront of the room “teaching”. When students experience a learning gap, we can refer them to a specific technology application that focuses on that learning gap. We can give more help to those who need one-on-one feedback.
Let’s use technology to help us better guide students in their learning.
Published March 26, 2008
Academic , Accountability , Achievement , Assess , Assessment , assessment for learning , Curriculum , ELA , English , Formative , Formative assessment , Model , scaffold , technology
Tags: Department, Education, ELA, English, Improve, Learn, learning, Model, Podcast, Power Point, scaffold, Teacher, technology
I talked to a student who had been in the same English classes with several friends from 9th through 12 grade. Each year they had a different teacher and each year that teacher taught them “their” way of writing. When the students got to 12th grade, they just said to the teacher, “Tell us how you want us to write.” She taught them her “official” way of writing. These students are living proof that constantly changing what we expect of students results in less than proficient writers.
How can we expect students to improve in their writing if we constantly change how they should write? They will only improve when we build on one consistent model. They same is true for all subjects.
Do you get together with your department (K-12) to talk over what you expect of students and what model the students will follow? Do various teachers produce Power Points, emovies or podcasts to demonstrate that consistent model? Do other teachers help develop scaffolded handouts or Power Points that guide students through the model?
Published March 25, 2008
Assess , Assessment , assessment for learning , Formative , Formative assessment , formative feedback , scaffold , Structure
Tags: Class, Education, ELA, English, Formative, Formative assessment, handout, scaffold, Structure, Textbook, Writing
Originally, I had taken the sections of a writing chapter and reduced them down to their essence for my handouts. However, I found out from my students that they only looked at one section, the actual writing examples. When I asked the students about the rest of the handout, they explained that those sections were not helpful. I had used the book’s terms and “fancy” language which did not explain “how to” do the writing process in terms concrete enough for my students to use.
I’m in the process of redoing the handouts to be the actual steps (and hopefully, the actual order) in doing each type of writing. I would like students to have steps to follow when they need the structure. When students are struggling writers, they need all the scaffolding possible to help them figure out what to do at each step. In order to create the steps, I had to mentally go through what I do in writing each type of writing. That process gave me greater insight into possible learning problems that students might encounter.