In my college writing class, for their last graded essay, the students have been writing in-class timed essays. We started out with just doing the pre-writing organizing, moved to writing one period and revising the essay the next period , and finally to a one period in-class timed essay. About 80% of the students did as well, if not better, than their usual essay writing in which they spent 2-3 weeks per essay. Most students were shocked at the high quality they could produce in one period. Along with the essay, they had to hand in their graphic organizer with each essay- which included not only the thesis, evidence, and details but topic sentences, transitions, synonyms, attention getter and an extender. They found that the more time they spent on their organizer, the quicker they could “write” their essay. Their “writing” consisted of taking their ideas from the organizer and writing them out in full sentences. Some students did not finish their whole essay but with their completed graphic organizer I could see what ideas they had. The students had improved all semester so that they could reach this point. Their constant formative assessments help them to overcome their major and minor learning gaps.
In their class evaluation, numerous students mentioned that we should do more inclass timed organizer and writing. They felt successful!
My new book, Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, is available through Eye on Education.
My book, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students, is available through Eye on Education.