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Home : 2007 : Feb : 18

    i don't know about last minute....
    By tia

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    i have my students start working on our district Writing Assessment starting with the first week of school--i'm passionate about writing--and have thus created a reputation for myself as being this great writing teacher---uh....and feel some pressure to show results!

    our writing assessment is an expository (with a touch of narrative) essay. we have a very clear scoring rubric (NS--no score--for too short to tell if it's an essay, not in English, not essay...1-5--5 being the best--but even so, not necessarily perfect) i teach my students what each of these scored essays looks and sounds like. throughout the year we score essays from previous years and the students score them with the rubric. they have gotten very good at it! so they know what is expected of them.

    i constantly give them excellent writing examples for ideas and to remind of everything "juicy" that makes writing good. i often have them write an essay on the same topic that we viewed in previous essays.

    i score all their essays with this rubric--i try to have them write at least 1 essay a month--using the same format of the Writing Assessment. and i talk with them about how to make their writing stronger. (for some kids it's "indent for crying out loud! write with complete sentences!" for others it's "okay, you've got alliteration and similes, now add onomatopoeia and personification" or even "make your intro more interesting--add a hook or zing!"

    i use my read alouds to assist in the writing process. after reading a good passage, i stop and ask the class "writing technique used here?" and they jump to raise hands to tell me where the alliteration is or the simile or sensory details...etc (They get a treat for being correct.) but i don't have them do this for every instance, but they raise their hands anyway and i know they are listening and getting it. (at an inservice i was at friday, a fellow teacher shared something similar she does--she pays them a "dollar" if they can bring their book to her and point out literary devices.)

    so, no real last-minute advice....i feel it's something you have to do all year long, but if you haven't, do the following:
    *get them acquainted with the writing assessment "rules"--like the size, margins of given paper--can they only use black pen? time limit, how to use thesaurus, no white-out, etc.
    *show them previous writing samples and writing prompts, if you have them available
    *explain the scoring rubric, if you have one
    *create a master list for them of what SHOULD be in their writing--and leave it up during the writing assessment, if you can. (our rules are, if it is already hanging, you can leave it up--so this week, we'll make a reminder chart and leave it up for the next two weeks). ideas: introduction, topic sentences for body paragraphs, conclusion, sensory details, voice, figurative language (simile, metaphor, hyperbole, personification), alliteration/assonance, add blues/hook to intro....

    good luck!

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