For the month of March , I will be participating in the Slice of Life Challenge (#sol19) sponsored by Two Writing Teachers. I will be slicing each day for 31 days inspired by my work as a literacy specialist and coach, my life, and my fellow bloggers.
From My Notebook: After Assessment #sol19
March 9, 2019
Through my work as a literacy coach, I have teachers that I meet and collaborate with throughout the week. Usually these meetings are at 7:30 a.m. on a scheduled day of the week. I meet with each teacher or team for 1/2 hour keeping notes of what we are working on. Our school is an UOS of Study school following the work of Lucy Calkins and colleagues in this our first year of full implementation. Most of our meetings are in their classrooms. Some teachers will come with questions, sometimes we plan out what we will work on the next week, sometimes I have a teaching technique or skill I’ve noticed or a suggestion. I keep a journal entry of each meeting to keep me thinking. I am thankful to Tammy Mulligan, Teachers for Teachers, for assisting me in working on offering a menu of ideas during this coaching time. This is still after years a work in progress.
After our assessment experiment, (Reflection), it was obvious that the teacher felt that her students’ response writing was in question and by default, her teaching. Whenever we start to feel this way as educators, it’s time to go to real hard data. The data won’t lie to you. So we went to the rubric.
We couldn’t use the student exemplars after we used a different text, but they do inform the type of writing we would expect at each level. Focusing on the level 2, 3, and 4 expectations, the teacher began reading the essays aloud. We quickly agreed upon a level and sorted the writer’s notebooks into piles. The first observation was relief by the teacher. The majority of her students’ work approximated Level 3 work. Most recognized the subtopic, had facts from both texts, however lacked tight organization of those facts. Revision might help that. She had four students who hadn’t begun the essay or hadn’t finished. We decided to give them a revision day after copying their original work, to see if a quick teach into synthesis again would adjust their writing. The teacher gathered the students at the beginning of her writing workshop and said she had read their writing and noticed that they were thinking about Black History and adding evidence from both text. She reminded them of the components of synthesis and then divided them into groups to work. She kept the students whose writing was on expectation on the rug and just asked them to read through their work and add evidential support or word change where they thought it might improve their already on-target writing. The non-starters got a review to jump start them. The random-evidence students were the most difficult. These students had somewhat of an idea, but had really missed the mark with synthesis. In small group, we reviewed synthesis and the student created a new thesis, fitting that thesis into their former writing proved difficult. The class will leave this work as is after this workshop and the teacher will use this data and the data from the original flash draft to inform her response to reading work in the Character Studies Unit.
What We Did and Why It Might Help
Rubric- Rubric use keeps the work grounded in realistic expectations
Partners- Two teachers looked at the work together, reading aloud and determining the overall level of the work, strengths and areas to work on
Quick- Sometimes scoring seems daunting, by working quickly we accomplished the same work without too much labor
Copy Exemplars right away- Exemplars will help her team in the future and in the present discuss what they are noticing, what they might work on, and potential changes for next year. For her it will also help to discuss this with her colleagues that administered the assessment with the original texts.
Decide Now What?- She decided to give it additional time. Most of the time analyzing and moving on will be the optimum choice.
Analyzing We use Messy Sheets, a wonderful tool introduced to us by Clare Landrigan and Tammy Mulligan. Without the benefit of them, you can read more about this idea in their book Assessment in Perspective.
Planning- This is the place we will consider where in the next unit these skills fall? Which skills have a goal of mastery and which skills will approximation be sufficient? Where will we do this work? Whole class? Strategy Groups? Conferring? I have a 80-50-20 rule I use. 80% need instruction- whole group, and so on.
One final note about the process, it took me longer to write about it that we took executing this protocol. We met for thirty minutes, twenty of which were quickly moving through these steps. Hopefully, it will make this assessment purposeful for both the teacher and the students.