February 19, 2018

Assessing Writing


Mrs. Loeung wrote a newsletter for the families in her class that did a marvelous job describing the changes this year with how your child’s writing development is assessed, how progress is monitored, and how our expectations for your child’s ability to write change based on their progress over time. We hear the word “scores” thrown around a lot. You probably also hear the word “assessment” thrown around a lot as well. As Mrs. Loeung explained, numbers help give his an easy way to record and see where and how a student needs to improve in their writing development and skills. We’re working hard on focusing in on what each student needs to do in order to improve their writing ability. May it be improving handwriting, writing an introduction that hooks the reader, an ending that brings on a nice sense of closure, or improving the use of dialogue, every child has their own individual goals that we’re working towards.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend! As a reminder, students will still be given a spelling quiz this week, but there will be no new words until after Winter Break.

Mr. B

The following is an excerpt from Mrs. Loeung’s newsletter about the changes writing this year:

The 3 main categories are structure, development and language conventions.  The structure of a writing piece includes how a student structured their lead (beginning), transitioned from one topic to another (middle), ended with a conclusion and organized the piece into paragraphs grouped by topic and genre characteristics.  The development category looks at how a student revised a piece to elaborate further on their original draft and made intentional choices to craft their sentences, words and ideas in a way that reflects other writing in a particular genre.  The language conventions category looks for evidence that students are spelling high frequency words correctly and using their knowledge of word families to spell other words as well as editing the spelling and punctuation of their final drafts using student dictionaries, technology, peers and resources around the room.

The scoring system has changed to a 1 – 4 model with 1 showing a beginning level and a 4 showing an exemplary level of writing.  Our continuous model goal for students is to progress each trimester and from year to year.  The numbers in the scoring system provide a quantifiable way to track that continuous progress.  For example, if your child received a beginning score of 1 in the lead subcategory 1st trimester,  the goal is for the child to reach a 3 by the end of the year.  Generally most students received beginning and developing scores during the first trimester.  We expect to see proficient and exemplary scores by the end of the year.  “But my child received high scores at the end of last year and then lower scores at the beginning of this year.  Has my child regressed?” you may ask.  No, not necessarily!  It simply means that we continue to increase the expectations from one year to the next.  It usually takes a school year for students to learn and produce those writing characteristics on an independent basis.

Another key difference this year is that we added 2 new assessment pieces that focus on students’ individual writing production. This trimester, students were assessed on two writing pieces they did with adult assistance and two independent writing pieces.  At the beginning of each new writing genre we give the students an On-Demand writing task in which they write for 45 minutes only on a topic of their choice within the new genre.  This allows us a window into seeing what kinds of writing students produce independently before they receive instruction.  Then we start our genre unit with various daily lessons about structure, elaboration and language conventions that directly relate to our expectations of their writing.  We then conference with and guide students as they write pieces in the new genre.  These are the assessed pieces of writing that students received guidance and assistance from us.  At the end of the unit, students are given another independent On-Demand writing task.  This assessment shows what students are able to do independently after receiving genre instruction.  This trimester, the scores reported on your child’s progress report reflect their scores on their independent On-Demand writing piece after the end of the writing genre. Generally, writing growth was reflected in the narrative section as well as areas of improvement.

Dan Barnard About Dan Barnard

Dan Barnard hails from the Green Mountain State of Vermont where he grew up skiing, biking, and exploring the nooks and crannies of the woods. He learned to drive on his parents' station wagons, learned to ski at Smugglers' Notch, and developed a love for traveling by participating in school trips to France and New York City. He worked in many jobs ranging from ski instructing to babysitting to an after-school program that helped him decide he wanted to be a teacher.

He enrolled in Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts and earned a BA in Humanities with a focus on history and a concentration in Elementary Education. After working for two years in a suburban Boston community as a fifth grade teacher, he decided to move west to discover the beauty and bounty of Oregon. He worked for four years as a third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade teacher in Mosier, Oregon. While working in Mosier he enrolled in graduate school at Portland State University and earned a MS in Curriculum and Instruction from Portland State University.