Our teachers look closely at students’ writing all the time and three times a year we do so together as a district. We give three benchmark, on-demand, prompts as formative assessments to evaluate the strengths and needs of our young writers. This past week our K-6 teachers got together for an early release workshop to analyze some of that writing. Most of the time they simply score their own students’ work with our writing continuum and share what they notice with their students. On this day they had an opportunity to share with their colleagues as well.
We scored some together, pulled new anchor papers, revised our assessment tool, and charted patterns of strengths and needs. But the best part of the day was hearing teachers say over and over, “Wait, you’ve got to read this one!” There were stories that made us giggle, weep, and drop our jaws! More than once I heard someone declare, “I wish I could write like that!” The room was filled with teachers enjoying the writing of their students. Now that’s not to say that every student “exceeded the standard” or that we are nurturing a giant crop of Hemingways. Sure there were some stories that left us scratching our heads and moaning slightly. But teachers still observed growth with most of these writers and developed ideas/plans with their colleagues for supporting them.
Days like this are important for schools. Immersing ourselves in student writing and celebrating all of the work that went into nurturing these young authors can be incredibly powerful. We can become slightly myopic if we look no further than our own classroom walls for what is possible for our students. This day opened up conversations that will strengthen the work of our district, our classrooms, and of individual students as we move forward.
It is my hope that every school has an opportunity to come together and closely read the work of their young authors, to look beyond the scores, and to appreciate the magnitude of teaching and learning going on in their classrooms. It can be a powerful eye-opener! It can be JOY!
What’s On My Book Radar?
If you have not yet picked up your copy of Mother Bruce, you really should! Ryan T. Higgins has created a book that kids will want to hear again and again. Higgins just won the prestigious Ezra Jack Keats Book Award for the 2016 New Illustrator Honor. I read this book with 4th graders to discuss theme and they were SOOO into it! I think this book should be in every elementary classroom ! Word on the street is there will be a sequel coming out this fall!