#SOL15: YAY! Writing Assessments!

It’s the end of January, the temperature is in the 50’s and it’s also the week of annual district-wide writing assessments.  I.AM.SO.EXCITED!  This is the week that we celebrate student writing as we score 3rd grade narratives, 8th grade persuasive/argument letters in social studies, and 10th grade persuasive/argument letters to legislators.


I wrote about this last year in a post titled, “Orchestrating Writing Assessments“.  Check out the link for the details.  It’s an amazing week of learning.

One of the sections of the 1.25 hours of professional development that start the day is about the writing process.  I could go on and on and on and on about the writing process and its importance to students and teachers, but I won’t.  Instead I am directing you to an amazing blog post by Jan Burkins and Kim Yaris, “What the Writing Process Really Looks Like“. The squiggly diagram of the “real” process is so intriguing that I’m keeping track of my process and will report on that soon (in another post – I believe I need more than ONE data point before reporting – LOL).

A second related post is, “How do we know that students are making progress in writing?” as well as this one, “Do I have to teach writing?” You can also search in the box at the top right to locate additional posts about writing assessment and instruction because, of course, quality instruction would be aligned with quality assessment. This week Two Writing Teachers have a series titled, “Aim Higher”. and it is filled with promise!


Dana opened the series today with a post titled, “Aim Higher:  Setting goals for editing” where she effectively describes the individualized editing checklists that she used with 5th grade students!   For Throwback week, Betsy chose another of Tara’s posts, “Student Self-Assessment: Introducing the Writing Checklist” and I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention, “Work Smarter:  Use Student Checklists Throughout a Unit of Study . . . and Beyond“.  You will be inspired to take action after checking out these masterful resources because assessments should not just be summative in nature!

And from the west coast Julieanne wrote about student responses to assessments in “Celebrate:  The Power of Assessments, Part 2”,  She built on Melanie’s ideas for cutting up rubrics in order to make them more “student friendly” as well as to challenge students to reach for higher levels!

One final thought on assessment:  What is the information that you will gain from the assessment that you are planning?  Clare and Tammy at Teachers for Teachers have this thought-provoking post, “Redefining Assessment” as they use Lucy Calkins definition “Assessment is the thinking teacher’s mind work.” (Because we should know so much more about these students beyond the score on a test!)  What do we know that guides our instruction?

Is writing a priority in your district?

How would an “observer” know?

How have you added to your knowledge of assessments and their use?

Tuesday is the day to share a “Slice of Life” with Two Writing Teachers. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here. Thanks to Stacey, Anna, Beth, Tara, Dana and Betsy for creating a place for us to share our work.

18 responses

  1. Thank you for all of these amazing resources and for mentioning one of our posts. We can’t wait to read your upcoming posts about your writing process.

    1. You are welcome! Love collecting so many important ideas into one post because it fits my #OLW “Focus” and helps me remember who is impacting my own thinking. As soon as I hit publish, I wondered if I should have put focus into my title! 🙂

  2. Thank you Fran for the powerful collection of posts to read and including mine which Melanie inspired! I love how our PLN thinking just intertwines and grows. You may not have put “focus” in your title but you helped me focus my thinking.

    1. Julieanne,
      Isn’t it great that our posts “fit together and intertwine”? I love seeing that our thoughts parallel and enhance our learning!!! Better together!

  3. I agree Fran. What a great post of resources and enthusiasm to boot, esp after watching Andrew Cuomo last week set out to put another stake in the heart of teaching passion.

    1. Our job is to make sure that students get what they need and that is passionate, knowledgeable teachers! At my age and stage in learning and life, I know that the TEACHER makes the most difference in the student learning! Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  4. What a wealth of information in you post. Thanks for sharing all of this.

    1. You are welcome! This is a part of my #OLW “focus” and trying to write some “summary” type posts!

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. You are the best, Fran – your post today is my one stop shopping requirement for the rest of my thinking day. Because…mid year assessment is exactly where I’m at!

    1. Tara,
      There are so many times that your posts have been exactly what I needed so I am so happy to return the favor! We have more than a decade of writing data for this district that “shows” the students are learning!

      That is always FUN! I am so happy to be thinking with YOU! ❤

  6. Great resources! Thank you, Fran! I have a new writing unit starting next week.Perfect timing!

    1. Jaana,
      You are welcome! Writing is SO complex and needs so much care in instruction and assessment!

  7. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the writing process lately, too, Fran. I want to make it accessible for kids, but not linear and unchanging. It’s tricky. I’m going to hop on over to read that post you mentioned now. Thanks.

    1. Writing is so complicated and the good news really is that everyone doesn’t have to follow the same lock-step process! Many options are available to all writers and it really does depend on “where” a person wants to add in some collaborative “talk” steps. I might want to have a conversation to help me focus my topic while someone else might need to talk with a partner to prioritize strongest evidence. Time to write and write and write is always a priority!

      Thanks for commenting, Dana!

  8. This is a great collection of resources, Fran. Thank you so much for putting it together! We are in the process of scoring our winter writing assessments now, but have seen some significant growth so far. It’s exciting to see!

    1. You are welcome, Catherine! It’s fun to see what so many people say about assessments and Kim and Jan’s post was an absolutely spot on match for the learning. Growth is exciting and worthy of celebration – something we often forget in the hustle and bustle of every day work! 🙂

  9. I love this round-up of awesome assessment resources! You capture what assessment is really all about. There is a big outcry in my area right now concerning the number of assessments students are required to take. If we could just utilize the assessments that give US the best guidance for teaching & learning and STUDENTS the best feedback, we’d all benefit.

    1. Susan,
      Thanks for your comments! With a “little sense” we can use assessments that will provide guidance for teaching and learning . . .unfortunately, that’s not the current political climate.

      We must take a deep breath and consider the students! They are our center! They are the core of our understanding . . . We must re-focus on what we know is so critical!!!

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