#SOL16: Assessment Matters
Thank you #TWTBlog Authors for this series last week, “Assessment Strengthens Writers”. Last night’s Twitter Chat was simply amazing and if you weren’t there, you can check out the storified version here.
The questions that vaulted us into the twittersphere were:
But this morning, I’m stuck on “How do I use assessment to strengthen my own writing?”
And every one of those questions MATTER!
- What assessment tools and strategies do I use?
- How do I deep track of my progress on assessments?
- How do I use on-demand writing to inform my progress?
- How do I collaborate with colleagues on my assessments?
- How do I communicate my growth to myself?
- How do I see my growth in writing over time?
- Where does self-assessment fit into the life of a writing teacher?
Much has been written about the need for writing teachers to write. October 20 was #WhyIWrite.
What has been written about the need for writing teachers to self-assess and to work collaboratively with others in order to grow their own skills? Today this space is dedicated to thinking about how best to continue to “Walk the Talk” and to grow and strengthen my own writing.
If one of my claims is that . . .”My writing improves as my volume of writing grows.”
How will I measure that?
How DO I measure that?
I have some work to do in order to answer these questions.
How will you “Strengthen Your Writing”?
Thank you, Betsy, Beth, Dana, Deb, Kathleen, Lisa, Melanie, and Stacey for this weekly forum. Check out the writers, readers and teachers here.
SOL14: Opinion Writing Grade 4
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 Betsey for creating a place for us to work collaboratively.
What a fun day today as a fourth grade team reviewed opinion on-demands and worked on scoring them. Conversations were rich as we focused on evidence of what the students “can do” and then moved on to consider the implications for instruction.
Instruction will include how students can use the Units of Study checklist to evaluate their own work and set goals. Two definite areas that we saw for instruction were “leads” and “transitions” so that led our thinking to possibilities for charts. (I like to “develop” them electronically in order to have a copy with me for reference as I move from building to building.) Two charts that we are considering as we have students “reflect” on their own writing include:
The first column in “rising steps of complexity” are examples of opening paragraphs. The text boxes on the arrows name the student move(s) used.
This second chart is about transition words. “Because” is tricky when it is used at three different levels. Is it the only transition word used? If so, probably not a “3 Star” use of transitions. Because is a perfect direct link for a reason “why” but has less value as a transition as we move up the steps and through the grade levels.
After students self-assess their own writing, they can set goals and have some model words/text to help them visibly see what their targeted learning looks like. Visible targets for students? Increasing the likelihood that students can meet the targets – progressions that “show” students how to write better!
How are you helping your students “see” their writing targets?
Fostering Self-Assessment and Revising Post – Its*
In order for students to self-assess their own work, they have to have clear learning targets and be able to see the difference between their current work and the end goal. This is not easy work for teachers or students because the expectations are ever increasing under CCSS.
These first years of implementation of the Common Core may be transition years. If students have not had explicit instruction in understanding character development (R. CCR. Anchor 3), they may need varying levels of support. That instruction is going to be critical for fall 2013, in order to ensure success for students in their daily reading as well as future high-stakes assessments.
The last post included the chart below as an anchor chart that was a resource for a loop of :
- assessment, and
- planning for additional instruction for the students.
(If you haven’t read that one, you might want to go back to “Readers’ Notebooks: Assessing, Goal-Setting, and Planning Instruction“.)
Joey, fictitious student, left his reading conference with a goal to work to increase his depth of understanding about characters. This is important for Joey and all other students to understand. It is not just about being able to understand the characters in this book. It truly is about how Joey will read and reflect on characters across all future reading (and will include many more attributes before he finishes elementary school – this is just ONE example).
Joey had some coaching in his reading conference about what he needed to do in order to meet that next level. But what if the coaching did not stick? What happens the next day? And what if there are many more students like Joey in the class?
Remember that group size for instruction is based on data and some general guidelines are:
- 1 student needs it – can be done in 1:1 reading conference
- 3 – 5 students need it – can be done in small group
- more than half the class needs it – whole group mini-lesson
Class data pointed to a need to improve understanding depth of character development. Planning an explicit mini-lesson in revising Post – Its, or “seeing again” is needed. Explicit demonstrations of what revision looks like and the many different ways it can be done will be modeled. The students also need more time to practice. Ultimately, the students will be improving their independent ability to describe character development in order to deepen their reading comprehension while simultaneously increasing their self assessment and reflection skills. This is HARD work!
What might instruction in revising Post-Its look like?
All students would come to the mini-lesson with a post-it about characters. The lesson will depend upon the data (the post-its in the hands of the students). It is possible that students may still be struggling with accurately self assessing that will require the teacher to teach the “assessing post-its” lesson AGAIN. Instruction has to be responsive to the student data!
As I move to instruction on revising, I will also be using some Question Answer Relationship (QAR) talk and labels because it is a strategy that students and teachers are already familiar with. That may not be included in your work with students/teachers. Instruction in the mini-lesson and subsequent student practice may include:
- self assessment of my post – it (review)
- talk with a partner about how I rated my post – it and WHY? (review)
- specific ways I can revise my post – it (includes ideas from the next chart about “HOW” )
- a second self-assessment of my post – it
- confirmation/validation with my partner of my revision
- an opportunity for students to practice this with a post – it I give them
- an opportunity for students to practice this with their own post – it
If my goal for the “Revising Post-Its” lesson series is to create a chart that would allow students to show which revision strategies they are using (public evidence of our learning), it may look something like the final chart below. (Remember this chart will be created with the students, but I do have to have a plan in mind.) As a teacher I could quickly check on the status of student revision with a simple thumbs up or down in response to this question, “Have I used more than one way to revise a post – it?” in a whole-class setting. However during a reading conference with an individual student, I could ask them to “show me other ways that you have tried revising?” if they seem to be stuck on just one way.
This was a bit of my holiday thinking. What would you do differently to increase self-assessment and revise post – its? I would love to hear your ideas!
* Reflection on large and small group sessions at July #TCRWP Reading Institute 2013 with Kathleen Tolan and Bianca Lavey.