If you are like me, you are constantly stressing out about making sure your students are learning and growing. If you are like me, you never feel like you have enough of the right DATA to know for sure! After all, how do you REALLY measure reading comprehension? Writing skills? I think we are in a constant battle with ourselves to balance wanting to assign a “number” to things that aren’t numeric and wanting to make sure we are “doing right” by our students. I have asked myself so many questions over the years…
- What do spelling tests tell me?
- What does it mean to be a “proficient reader”?
- How will I know if my student writes at a “fourth grade level”? What IS a fourth grade level?
- How do I measure number sense?
- What does it mean to be “advanced”?
- How does anyone expect me to open a can of Pringles on not eat the whole thing? (oops…wrong blog for that)
and soooooo many more…
(By the way…if any of you have answers, I am SUPER excited to hear them!)
Another struggle I have is measuring student achievement based on work they do alone. Because my students do SO much collaboratively, it is hard to know what work is truly “theirs”. We just finished publishing our feature articles, and along the way they brainstormed, shared, and revised with peers…they took them home and got feedback from parents…teachers gave suggestions…the computer spell and grammar checked them…
I am a huge believer in that writing “process”–and that the process must be collaborative. That being said, at a certain point, we need to see where the rubber meets the road and know what students can (and cannot) do independently.
Grading writing is not so easy!
So what do I grade?
I thought I’d share with you something that has been really helpful for me over the last four years or so…perhaps it is something that you might be interested in trying. I do demand writing (also a very real world skill…) about 2 times per quarter where I ask students to write in a limited amount of time ALL ALONE. They can still brainstorm, plan, write, and revise–but they do it without the resources that may have guided them along the way during their process pieces. After our opinion unit, I asked them to do an opinion piece. After our narrative unit, I asked them to write a demand narrative piece–you get the picture. I wanted other people to see how easy it can be to take the temperature of your class in writing…to chart progress of students over time and to see what deficit areas your class may still have. This is something you could certainly create for your own class if you wanted.
To help people get a sneak peek, I have decided to share a “freebie” that helps give you the idea of how this can work in your classroom. If you are interested, check it out! I can honestly say it has been a real game-changer for me…I do SO much more reteaching of writing concepts and have been far more focused during my unit planning. I hope it helps you as well! Let me know your thoughts…