Like any profession, those in the teaching field have to keep up with changes and areas that need honing. One of our focus areas this year, especially in grades K-6, is writing. Our assessment data has shown that this has been an area of relative weakness, and it has been a number of years since we have spent concentrated time on writing.
When I was in school in the 60s and 70s, the majority of teachers used grammar and length as the two main factors in assessing the quality of writing. Now we see writing as made up of a number of different traits such as ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions. When we assess our students’ writing three times of year with regular benchmarks on our digital portfolios, we have a rubric based on those six traits. It’s a much clearer form of assessment.
In our professional development, we are also revisiting what is known as the Writing Process which we teach children to follow. Under this model, students learn to collaborate with their peers in brainstorming, editing, and revising their writing.