The first month of school is always an exciting time for teachers and students. Teachers are getting to know their students socially, academically and emotionally. Students are easing back into school after a 10-week summer hiatus. The month of September is spent assessing students to obtain information on their reading, writing and math skills.
In writing, an on-demand writing prompt provides teachers with immediate feedback on student’s writing skills. the Student Achievement Partners website is an excellent resource for teachers to obtain writing prompts and student exemplars.
The New Jersey Department of Education has also revised the model curriculum to the New Jersey Curriculum Framework. When you visit the NJDOE website, under the NJ Student Learning Standards, the English Language Arts section has several links to excellent writing resources for you and your students.
There are two websites that I found to be very useful for instructional strategies and resources. The first is the National Writing Project, whose mission is to make significant contributions to improve reading and writing for all learners through their expertise, knowledge, and leadership in literacy.
The second website is The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University. This website houses writing resources and instructional material, and provides these as a free service of the Writing Lab. Teachers may use the material for in-class and out- of class instruction.
As we know, analyzing student writing work at the start of the year informs our instructional decision making. Teachers gain an understanding for students’ understanding of concepts and skills which will guided them to differentiate their teaching in improving student learning.
The Student Work Analysis Protocol aka the “3 Stack Protocol” is a process that groups of educators can use to discuss and analyze student work across all content areas and grades. This 5-step process is thorough and efficient to use.
- Step 1- Reaching Consensus about Proficiency – Teachers decide what is expected from the students, the standards being assessed, and what is considered a proficient response.
- Step 2- Diagnosing Student Strengths and Needs – Teachers read student work without scoring and do a “quick sort” of student work by creating 3 piles of writing. The High pile is student writing which objectives are met; the Expected pile is student writing which objectives are partially met and, the Low pile no objectives are met. If there are writing pieces that the teacher is not sure of, they can be placed aside and then added to one of the three piles after sorting all the writing pieces. It’s important for the teacher to have students’ names for each pile.
- Step 3- Determine What Students Know – A few samples from each High, Expected and Low piles are selected and reviewed for the prerequisite knowledge that the students demonstrated that they knew.
- Step 4- Determine What Students Don’t Know – Using the same samples of writing, identification of the wrong information, misconceptions and the skills that the students did not demonstrate are discussed.
- Step 5- Identifying Instructional Steps – Teachers identify by group what the students know and still need to learn. As teachers collaborate on determining the instructional steps for differentiated learning for each group/pile these questions will drive the discussion and planning for future learning.
- What patterns or trends are noted for the whole class?
- What instructional strategies will be beneficial for the whole class?
This protocol is an opportunity for teachers to discuss and analyze student writing, develop an inter-rater reliability for standards based writing and share best practices in writing instruction.
The Elevate Educators team wishes all educators a wonderful start to the school year. Enjoy learning about your students. The work you do daily is so vitally important in developing independent, motivated, self-directed learners who have a thirst and curiosity to be the best they can be.
Until next time, happy teaching.