Tag Archives: writing assessment

Writing Workshop: Assessment and Hope

return and talkThis summer, we’d like to return and talk about some of our most useful, engaging, or popular posts.  Today’s post, written by Amy in 2012, reminds us that writing isn’t just done for assessment–it’s done to get kids to love reading and writing.

Please return to this topic and talk with us in the comments–how do you help kids write to write, and not write for a grade?


Students should write more than teachers can ever grade. I heard this first from Kelly Gallagher, author of the book Readicide, a book, among others, that helped me frame my curriculum around Workshop. If I remember correctly, he said that his students write four times more than he grades. Really?

I pondered this for a long while, and I still struggle, but I think I have some of it figured out. I thought for a long time that my students would not write unless I graded what they wrote. Every assignment:  “Is this for a grade?” Every answer: “Yes, everything is for a grade.” The refrain got old.

Then I tried something new: I began writing with my students on the first day of school, and I had some kind of writing activity every single day. I don’t remember where I read it, but when I was researching the work of the reading writing workshop gurus a couple of years ago, I know I read:  if you struggle with time and have to choose between reading or writing, choose writing.

It’s the complete opposite of what I thought:  My students are struggling readers. How do I give up reading when I know they need it? I thought about it more and realized: If I teach writing well, students will be reading. And they will be reading a lot.

So let me explain how this works for me. Remember, I teach AP English Language and Composition (that’s the top 11th graders) and English I (that’s on-level freshmen)–two extremes.

Writing Every Day

There are many ways to get students to write every day. Of course, some ways will get them to take their writing more seriously than others. I find that when I give them an audience, students will put a lot more effort into what comes out their pens. Audience matters!

Topic Journals. Following the advice of Penny Kittle, author of Write Beside Them, I created “topic journals” that students write in once a week the first semester. I bought composition notebooks and printed labels, using various fonts, of the topics: love, conflict, man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs. nature, war, death, gender, hope, redemption, family, romance, hate, promise, temptation, evil, compromise, self-reliance, education, friendship, guilt, doubt, expectation, admiration, ambition, courage, power, patience, fate, temperance, desire, etc. I created 36 notebooks; one for each student in my largest class.

I introduced the topic journals to my AP students first. I set up the scenario:  “I will be teaching 9th grade. I need your help. Do you remember what it was like to be new to high school? nervous, anxious, a little bit obnoxious? I created these notebooks so you could write and give advice to my younger, less advanced students.”

The first task was to turn to the first page in the journal and define the topic. Many looked up the terms in the dictionary or online. They wrote a quickwrite explaining what the topic meant. Then on the next page they wrote about anything they liked as long as their writing fit the topic. I had them sign their posts with their initials and the class period. I told them that they could choose their form (a letter, a narrative, an advice column) as long as they remembered that their audience was 9th graders, and whatever they wrote had to be school appropriate. “If you write about bombs or offing yourself or anyone else, you’re off to see the counselor or the police.” These are good kids, most of them in National Honor Society. They took my charge to help my younger students seriously. This exercise often worked as a lead into our critical reading or class discussion that day, and sometimes students chose a piece they’d started in a topic journal to continue exploring for a process piece.

You can imagine how I introduced the journals to my freshmen. I began by saying, “You know I teach AP English, right? That’s the college-level English class. Well, those students would like to offer you advice about high school, life, and whatever else you might have to deal with the next few years. They are going to write to you in these topic journals. Your job when you see these notebooks on the tables is to choose the one that “calls” to you. First, you will read the messages the older students wrote for you, and then you will respond. Remember to use your best writing.” I then set the timer and had students read and write for 10-15 minutes, depending on the lesson I planned that day. Sometimes I had students share out what they wrote; most often we tucked the notebooks away for another week.

Students constantly fought over a couple of the topics:  love, death, and evil were their favorites. I am certain that is telling (and it did help me when selecting titles for book talks.)

While students wrote in topic journals, I read what students had previously written in the notebooks kids did not select. I’d write a quick line or two in response to something in that notebook. I always used a bright orange or green pen, so students could tell I’d had my eyes in that journal. They knew I was reading them, but they never knew when or what entry. This helped hold them accountable for not only the content of what they were writing but also the mechanics of how they were writing it.

Assessment? Formative. Students have to think quickly and write about a topic on a timed test for the AP exam (11th grade) and STAAR (9th grade).

Blogs

At first I only set up a class blog, and I had students write in response to posts I put on the front page and in response to an article I put on an article of the week page (another Gallagher idea). It didn’t take me long to realize that students would write more and take more ownership of their craft if they created their own blogs. The first year I had students set up blogs I taught gifted and talented sophomores, and I was nervous. Nervous that something would happen:  they’d post inappropriate things, they’d do something to get themselves and me in trouble, they’d be accosted by trolls out to hurt children through internet contact. I chose Edublogs.org as the platform because I could be an administrator on the student blogs, and I had my kids use pseudonyms. This was overkill. Yes, I did have to change two things that year:  one student called his blog Mrs. Rasmussen. I told him my husband didn’t appreciate that much. Another kid used a picture of a bomb as his avatar. Not funny. All-in-all my students did great, and they wrote a lot more (and better) than they ever did for me on paper. I was a stickler for errors and created this cruel scoring guide that said something like: A=only one minor error, B=two minor error, C=three minor errors, F=four or more errors. Students that had never gotten a C in their lives were freaking out over F’s. “Sorry, kiddo, that’s a comma splice. That’s a run-on.” I had more opportunities to teach grammar mini-lessons than I ever had in my career. But see, these kids cared about their grades.

My 9th graders now–not so much. They care about a lot of things, but if I punish them for comma errors or the like, they shut down and stop writing. I learned to be much more careful. Now, I work on building relationships so they trust me to teach them how to fix the errors themselves. It takes a lot more time, but in the end, student writing improves, and students feel more confident in their abilities. I am still working on getting my 9th graders to be effective writers. So far, I have not accomplished that too well, as is evidence of their EOC scores this year.

This past year my AP English students posted on their blogs once a week. I told them that I would read as many of their posts as I could, but I would only grade about every three. I wouldn’t tell them which ones I’d be grading. I let students choose their topics, but since I had to teach them specific skills to master for the AP exam, I instilled parameters. They had to choose a news article that they found interesting, and then they had to formulate an argument that stemmed from that article. The deadline was 10 pm on Monday–every week. This assignment accomplished two of my objectives:  students will become familiar with the world around them, and students will create pieces that incorporate the skills that we learn in class. When I turned to social media to promote student blogs, I got even more ownership from my students.

Assessment? Formative or Summative. Students apply the skills they learned in class regarding grammar, structure, style, devices, etc. Scored using the AP Writing Rubric for the persuasive open-ended question.

Twitter in the Classroom

One of these days I will write a post about the many ways I used Twitter in class this year. For now, let me just tell you:  Twitter was the BEST thing I added to my arsenal of student engagement tools. Ever.

When I began asking students to tweet their blog url’s after they wrote on Mondays, I started leaving quick and easy feedback via Twitter. It was so easy! Kids would tweet their posts; I’d read them; re-tweet with a pithy comment. Within minutes of the first couple of tweet exchanges, students were posting and tweeting more. They were getting feedback from me, and they were giving feedback to one another. They began building a readership, and that’s what matters if students blog. Just because they are posting to the world wide web does not mean anyone is reading what they write. But, a readership, especially one that will leave comments, that’s a whole new story.

Assessment? Formative. Students share their writing and make comments about their peers’ writing. Critical thinking is involved because students only have 140 characters to express their views.

Student Choice. Sometimes.

In a perfect writing class, I am sure students get to choose what they write about every time. This does not work in an AP English class where I am trying to prepare students for that difficult exam. Once a week my students complete a timed writing where they respond to an AP prompt. The guidelines for AP clearly state that the essays are scored as drafts; minor errors are expected. My students must practice on-demand writing. There is no time for conferencing or for taking these essays through the writing process. Unless–we revisit. And sometimes we do. Students are allowed to re-assess per our district grading policy if they score below an 85. 85 is difficult for many of my students, so lots of them re-assess. To do so, students must come in and conference with me about their timed writing. I am usually able to pick out the trouble spots quite easily, and it’s through these brief conversations that I get the most improvement from student writing. Often, instead of conferencing with me, students will evaluate their essays with one another.

I show several student models of higher scoring essays and teach students how to read the AP Writing Rubric. Then, in round robin style, students assess their own essays and at least three of their peers. I remind students not to be “nice” to their friends and give a score that’s undeserved. This will not help anyone master the skills necessary for the AP exam. Rarely do students give themselves or their peers scores higher than I would.

My students also write process papers. For AP reading workshop students choose a book from my short list. After reading and discussing the books with their Book Clubs, students have to write an essay that argues some topic from the book. I model how to structure an essay. I model how to write an engaging introduction. I model how to imbed quotes and how to write direct and indirect citations. I model everything I want to see in this type of writing.

I allow several weeks in my agenda to take these papers through the writing process, and students do most of the work outside of class (not so with my 9th graders).

  • Day one students generate thesis statements, and we critique, re-write, and re-critique.
  • Day two students bring drafts that we read and evaluate in small groups. (I have to teach them that a draft is a finished piece that they are ready to get feedback on–not a quickwrite. So many students type up their rough draft and call in good. This makes me crazy! And I tell them that I will not read their first draft unless they come before or after school or during lunch. They must work on their craft before I will spend my time reading it.)
  • Day three students bring another draft that we read and evaluate again. Sometimes, depending on where my kids are in terms of producing a good piece, I will take these up and provide editing on the first page. Never more than the first page!
  • Day four students turn in their polished papers. I score them holistically on a rubric that aligns with the AP Writing one, or if it’s my 9th graders, I score them on the appropriate STAAR writing rubric.

My freshmen students need a much more hand holding, and we do a lot of writing on lined yellow paper. Most often, especially at the first of the year, they get to choose their own topics. However, I have to give them a lot more structure because on the new Texas state test. 9th graders have to write two essays (about 300 words each): a literary essay, which is an engaging story, and an expository essay, which explains their thinking about a given prompt. Students use the yellow paper to draft during class. I wander the room, answering questions and keeping kids on task. I also try to write an essay every time I ask students to do so. I use these essays as mentor texts in addition to mentor texts I find by professional authors.

Usually I begin class with some kind of mini-lesson if students are in the middle of drafting. I might show students a paragraph with a description that uses sensory imagery and instruct them to add some description in their own writing. Or, I might teach introductory clauses and have students revise a sentence to include one or two or three. This way I am able to get authentic instruction that my students need right there in the middle of their writing time. When I score these student papers, I specifically look for the skills I’ve explicitly taught. If I do it right, I will have read my students papers one or two times during their writing process, prior to them ever turning in their final draft.

Notice I said “if I do it right.” I rarely do it right. I am still learning to budget my time and get to every kid. I am still learning to get every kid to write. I am writing English I curriculum this summer, which I will use in the fall. I hope to get some of my challenges with my struggling students worked out as I focus more purposefully on the standards. I realized this year that while I am teaching writing as a process all the time, I am not necessarily targeting the standards that fit into the process. I am thinking about this a lot lately.

This is still my burning question:  how can I get kids who hate to read and write to participate in writing workshop so their writing improves and their voices are heard?

I am turning to the gurus as I research and think this summer. Jeff Anderson’s book 10 Things Every Writer Should Know has been an excellent start.

Fitting Self-Assessments into Competency Based Grading

fotolia-33988899-xs-photogalleryThis year my school shifted to competency based grading.  For those unfamiliar with this, grading is centered on students’ mastery of the Common Core competencies.  While I have found it differs from state to state, our school has integrated competency based grading by requiring all classes to follow a grading percentage of 80 percent summative assessments and 20 percent formative assessments.  In addition, students are allowed to retake summative assessments as many times as they would like assuming they initially approached the assessments having prepared with good effort.

For me, as an English teacher, this process of retakes and revisions isn’t new.  That being said, the idea of 80 percent of my students’ grades being summative assessments is most certainly a shift.  In the past, while their final product has always served as a large portion of their grade (over 50 percent), it hasn’t counted quite as much as it does now.

I value formative assessments; I cherish the time my students spend cracking apart texts, mimicking authors’ craft, and simply reading.  For many of us, high school was a formative experience.  The time we spent exploring who we were paid off long term, yet competency-based grading values the final product more than the process.

To a degree, I take fault with this.  I understand that once students enter the workplace they are assessed based on their final products.  In the same breath, I also believe that high school must provide a platform for students to explore their interests in a safe and supportive environment that values process.  My life has largely looked like the reverse of my gradebook—80 percent of my time is spent reading, writing, brainstorming, drafting, discussing, and working, while maybe 20 percent of it is actually publishing, sharing, or posting my work.  I learned this process in high school.

Because summative assessments count for so much this year, I hate (even more than usual) applying a specific number to my students’ work.  In turn, to compensate for this competency based grading, I ask my students to assess themselves.

Every time my students hand in a paper or summative assessment like a notebook check, they grade themselves, writing a brief “metacognition analysis” in which they explain their writing, thought process, and reasoning.  In turn, instead of being blind sided by my grades, they have a say in how and even whether or not they met the competencies of the assignment.  Typically, they’re spot on with their grading.

FullSizeRenderNicole wrote, “I think my essay deserves that grade because I worked really hard on it.  I ended up printing it 4 times because every time I printed it I would self edit and have someone else edit it so that it came out just how I wanted it.  Just like always, I put a lot of my personality and voice into this piece.  I wanted people to laugh when they read it.  I added lots of detail about tiny situations and background.”

Ryan, had a similar assessment, “I think I did well with my development of ideas/organization and cohesion, and my ending.  I was proud of all of my writing because I thought it was one of the best things I’ve written.”

Ultimately students are also willing to honestly discuss their shortcomings.  Maddie targeted areas she hoped to improve in future pieces: “I feel I did well but could’ve been better.  I struggled with creating sensory details, but I feel I wrote this piece pretty well.  I would like to try and make this story more vivid, putting the reader in my position.” 

While I’m still addressing these changes and gauging my own understanding of competency based grading, self-assessments are the single most important change I’ve made in my classroom this year.  After I’m done reading rubrics, circling boxes, and checking off competencies, their voice is the resounding voice I hear.

Do you have competency based grading in your school?  Have you shifted to the 80:20 grading system? What changes have you made to better meet the needs of your students?

Why Assignment Sheets Might Be Killing Your Students’ Writing

58090ec056811830ee936030edb1c9dbMy first year of teaching, I didn’t realize that the “five-paragraph essay” was a dirty phrase. My  internship year I painstakingly dragged my freshmen through the essay outlining process, watching them regurgitate homogeneous essays about symbolism in Lord of the Flies. At the end of our six-week study of the book, I slogged through 25 nearly identical essays, all of which had eloquent yet oddly familiar intro, body, and conclusion paragraphs. I’ll readily admit that despite the dull content, I felt victorious. My students had completed literary analysis essays and I had taught the foundation of essay structures.

It was that summer that my perception on structured essays changed. Two days into taking Penny Kittle’s writing course at the University of New Hampshire’s Literacy Institute, I realized that I had committed a cardinal sin of workshop teachers. Admitting to teaching the five-paragraph essay (let alone the sandwich method of paragraph-writing) was like confessing to enjoying McDonald’s burgers at an elegant chophouse: the cut (or concoction) of meat might serve the same purpose, to fill me up, but the quality was quite different. In turn, I was feeding my students homogeneous writing, a detailed equation to a subject that couldn’t be distilled down to simple mathematics. If I expected greatness, I needed to break beyond the boundaries of such a restrictive form of writing. After all, an introduction + body paragraphs + conclusion didn’t guarantee a solid essay; if anything, it guaranteed an entirely unspectacular essay.

This process of digesting the material and then providing a summary of the structure was far too easy for students. Not only did it place the onus on me to provide a set guide of instructions, but it also required me to complete the majority of analysis. Instead of my students engaging with the text and delving into the intricacies of structure and craft through individual exploration and group discussions, I was basically pre-digesting the material before offering it to them.

IMG_1845

Students analyzing an author’s craft in front of the class.

This year I have made a point to wean my students, particularly my juniors and seniors, off the assignment outlines they so desperately desire. Instead, my students now receive a half-page sheet simply telling them the type of essay they are writing (cause and effect, definition, personal narrative, etc.), the mentor texts they may refer back to, the page length requirement, and the due date.

Initially, they were frustrated with this format. As one student said during our career building unit in which we practiced writing cover letters and resumes for celebrities, “Ms. Catcher, do you have an assignment sheet for this or something?” When I pointed out the paper I had given to him previously, he replied, “No, I mean something that tells me how to write this paper.” We discussed the numerous mentor texts we had read and dissected and how these as well as our class discussions ultimately provided the basis we to develop our pieces. As a class, we asked questions of the text and author, starting broad by looking at the overall tone, voice, structure, intended audience, and progression of the piece. Then, independently or within small groups, we delved into more of the intricacies—what examples were provided, word choice, sentence structure, punctuation, and transitions. Students have gradually learned that there is no set solution for getting an A, which also means that they are forced to read and reread mentor texts to gain a firm understanding of a piece’s intricacies.

My problem from the beginning was that I was too busy telling my students how to write an essay to allow them to discover the messy albeit enlightening connection between reading, writing, and modeling. As we complete the last six weeks of school, I have noticed a significant difference in the structure and craft of my students’ work. They are relying more readily on mentors to help guide them in their process, and I can see both their group and independent analysis directly translate into their writing. For the past three years, I have harped on my students about showing rather than telling, but as the year comes to a close, I can finally say that I have internalized my own advice when it comes to my teaching.

How do you inspire students to rely on mentor texts instead of assignment sheets?  What steps have you taken throughout the year to make them more independent and confident writers?

Grading vs. Feedback

Let me be honest:  I hate grading.

Hate hate hate it.

I hate it, but you know what I love to do?  Read my students’ writing.  Talk to them about their reading.  Absorb the creative projects on display after they’ve completed a reading or writing unit.

So, if I love to listen to and read and wonder about their work, why do I hate to grade it?

The idea of reducing a piece of student work to a number, or assigning some arbitrary value to a reading conference, or trying to measure precisely the growth of a writer from one genre to the next is not only intimidating to me…it also seems a little ridiculous.  Unnecessary.  Trivial.  The beauty of a learner’s work is its creation, its completion, its courage.  It’s out there…for me to read, for their peers to see, for their creators to reflect on.

But, too many of my students only know how to think in numeric terms when trying to measure their own achievements.  Few are well-versed in knowing how to feel proud of finishing a tough book, or pleased with the revision of a piece of writing, or excited about the hard work that went into a project.  They don’t know how to authentically self-evaluate, because for years, they have relied too heavily upon someone else’s assessments of their work–mainly their teachers’.  I keep wondering how that’s fair.  I’ve had conversations recently with the lovely Amy about this, and Jackie wrote a great post about this same dilemma last October.

FullSizeRenderLast week, this tweet from the always-wonderful Kelly Gallagher helped to focus my wondering.  His words are not only true of writing, but of all other acts of learning as well.  A grade can’t improve a student’s skills.  Only feedback can do that–authentic, speedy, specific feedback.

So now, thanks to the combination of conversations with fellow teachers, Kelly’s words, and my own wondering, I know what I need to do.  I need to focus more on feedback and less on grading.  I know if I do less of the latter, I’ll free up time to do more of the former.

So, I’m pondering how to shift the balance.  I’d really like to return written drafts with my comments and questions, but no number or letter grade at the top.  I’d really like to have just one reading conferences without hearing the question, “what grade do I have in here?”  I’d really like for students to abandon the habit of looking to me for grades, and instead look within themselves to figure out how they’re doing.

Because I can’t entirely forsake grades altogether (we need to update our gradebook weekly), I’ll move my focus toward improving my feedback instead.  I’ll do this in three important ways:

During reading or writing conferences.  Until now, I’ve tried to stay fairly quiet during conferences in order to let my students do most of the talking.  Most of my talk is in the form of questions.  Now, I’ll shift to giving students more feedback–much more than the one or two statements I try to make at the end of a conference, which usually are to give suggestions about where to go in terms of goals and growth.  I’d like to comment more on my observations of students’ growth, strengths, weaknesses, and skills, so they can learn the language to begin evaluating themselves more effectively.

In writer’s notebooks.  Although I collect notebooks every two weeks, I don’t read everything my students write–I don’t have time, and shouldn’t–they should write much more than I could ever read.  Generally, I thumb through the pages, check that students have given a good faith effort in all of their various sections, and give a completion grade.  Now, I’d like for each student to flag one page in their notebook they’d like me to attend to–maybe a woefully short to-read list, a favorite quickwrite, or a particular reading reflection.  That way, they can decide what’s important to them, and I can give feedback accordingly…just comments and questions, mind you–without the pressure of a grade for reader or writer.

Through monthly “Meta Meetings.”  I’d like to sit down with each student about once a month and just have a whole-person conference…not a reading or writing conference.  Just a little checkup, to see how their brains and hearts are doing.  I adore alliteration, and I want these chats to encourage my students to be metacognitive…so I think I’ll title them Meta Meetings.  I’ll ask students a few questions about their strengths and weaknesses, and try to get to the heart of all the little bits of the language arts they’re curious about…strengthening their similes, or finding a system for keeping track of found vocab words, or writing metaphorical recipes (all questions I’ve had from students at random times).  I also think that during these meetings, I’ll get lots of awesome curricular ideas–what do my students want to learn how to do?  What things are they really wondering about that I might be able to help them discover?

What are your suggestions for improving feedback?  Shifting away from grades?  Providing more authentic evaluation?  Please share in the comments!

We are in Process, and that is Beautiful

A follow up to a comment on the post Not the Same ‘Ole AP Writing Teacher

Wow. Thanks for following my blog. I’m grateful. I appreciate your inquiry into our Snowfall writing project. It’s made me do some thinking, and you’ve inspired me to turn my response into a follow up post. Thanks for that.

Here’s my best shot at answering your questions:

1. Do you have any completed student assignment that you would be willing to share? and 2. What vehicle/medium did you use for to students to publish their work?

No student samples yet — this is the first year I’ve had students complete something quite so extensive. In regard to publishing their work, we aim high, so students will do a bit of research to see if they can submit their articles somewhere for publication. When they were first selecting topics, we discussed audience, and students had to justify what kind of magazines would run a piece about their topics. For sure, students will publish their finished articles on their blogs. They each have their own blog in which they write weekly.

3. What were your specific requirements for the assignment?

Since I am pushing toward authenticity, I intentionally did not start with a rubric. I’m sure John Branch didn’t have a rubric when he started writing “Snowfall: Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” either. I want students to take ownership of this work, so I want them to think through the parts and pieces that will make their work turn out the best.

Students and I read five pages of Branch’s piece together, and I encouraged students to read the rest of the article online in their own time. All I really told them was that we were each going to write a full-length feature article, and this Pulitzer Prize winner was our model. I am trying to break habits of skating through writing assignments with weak ideas and weaker research. Many of my student are used to getting A’s without having to actually learn anything. This bothers me. That is partly why, although they got to choose their topics, I had to approve them and be sure there was some depth to what students were thinking in terms of what they could discover in their research.

While it may sound strange, I do not have specific requirements other than–

1. show me that you have learned several different modes of writing, including how to embed and cite research,

2. include several different images, including photos, video clips, info graphics, charts, etc that make your article multi-media and convincing,

3. prove that you take pride in your work by revising, evaluating, improving, and learning as you move toward publishing your best work.

I do keep tick marks in my records of students who submit their work to me for review on time and who use their time wisely in class, but those benchmarks become daily grades and will not influence a student’s final grade on the piece he finally publishes. Most likely I will allow students to give themselves a grade when all is said and done. Without question they always grade themselves harder than I ever do, and I have to score them up a bit.

4. Any other information that you could share with us would be greatly appreciated.

Every week we work on some aspect of this writing. Last week we read some descriptive writing, and students finished up their narrative intros. I read aloud the prologue of The Emperor of All Maladies–a Biography of Cancer (also a Pulitzer), a non-fiction text that begins with a narrative intro, similar to the narrative at the beginning of Snowfall, although different at the same time. We connected our thinking back to Snowfall, and students moved their “remember it” paragraph to the top of their page and revised to make emotional stories that would draw their readers into their articles. They read and evaluated the writing of their peers– aiming for the WOW factor (our way to gut-read a text), and they revised to make better.

Later we talked about definition as a mode, and students began writing a paragraph that defines their topics and includes a position statement. (We are including a persuasive slant more than Snowfall because of the argumentative focus of AP Lang.)

I showed students how to use google forms to conduct surveys, so they could gather their own data instead of relying on whatever they found on the internet, and they took a survey I created that I will use in my own feature article I am writing beside them. Every step I ask students to take, I take as well. They can see my piece develop and change and grow as theirs does. Soon I will introduce info-graphics with the hope some students will include those in their full-length article. I think info-graphics are so cool.

So, that’s about where we’re at with this huge and engaging writing project. I wish we could stop everything else and only work on this piece– we had a district checkpoint, and we have an AP mock exam looming, so we have to move back and forth into the genre of test taking. But … maybe, this slow process is for the best: I am able to show how the skills needed to write on demand are the same as developing a long process piece–only s.l.o.w.e.r.

We are in process, and that is exactly what I want. Kids are learning and growing as writers, and that is so much more important than rushing into a finished product.

I hope this helps. Please ask if you have other questions. I am happy to share and share and share. I am thrilled that others are doing this same kind of exciting and engaging work with students. We are teaching the writer and not the writing, and that is beautiful.

Warmest regards,

Amy

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