Saturday, April 5, 2014

Scoring Writing Performance Assessments

First of all... Hello, Friends! It's been a while. What can I say? My job is busy, my own children are busy, I'm busy, and even through all that... someone has to do the laundry, cook the meals, and shop for groceries. I KNOW y'all get it! The last few weeks have been intense. But I'm happy to say that Spring Break is just five school days away!

Yesterday, I spent the day with some wonderful colleagues. We ate a lot of chocolate! But that wasn't the point. That was just the carrot... every table had a nice, generously-sized bowl full of bite-sized chocolate candies (Twix, Snickers, Milky Way, Krackel, etc.) in the center when we arrived. And some table groups might have refilled that bowl a few times.

But I digress...and the point of the day wasn't chocolate consumption. We were there for serious business! After a quick review of the rubric, the standards, and some exemplars, we set to work scoring hundreds of writing assessments. It was challenging, let me tell you! We had many disagreements at our table, even with the rubric. Things just weren't always crystal clear. We had some great discussions, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to work with teachers from schools around my district. I loved seeing how other first graders around town are progressing in writing, and I will make a few changes in how I prepare my students for an assessment like this in the future. There were so many great moments during the day... although I must say... It was nothing short of exhausting! The work was intense.

Of course, to keep everything fair, I didn't score my own class' writing samples. But I was thinking about them off and on all day! When the last samples were graded, and all the data was ready to be entered into the computer (think Scantron test page!) we all got to have our own class' work back. I was a tad nervous, and I don't agree with all the scores (much like the way that we disagreed about other papers at our table) but overall, I'm pleased with how my students did.

Both my kindergartners and first graders had prompts that had to do with pets. The kindergarten prompt was "Would you rather have a rabbit or a goldfish for a pet? State your opinion using words and pictures." On the assessment day, the students were provided with some information about each animal, (which I read aloud) and then they were given the opportunity to write.

And a few examples of student work...

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Next year, my school is adopting Lucy Calkins' new Units of Study in Opinion, Narrative, and Informational Writing. I'm so excited! I used the "old" version for several years and I loved it! Now, our staff will get some training straight from the publisher, and it will be implemented school-wide. I absolutely love teaching writing, and this is wonderful news!

Check out the new Lucy Calkins Units of Study here.

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