“Is it worth the time it takes?”
My teammates and I have vowed to start each planning meeting asking that question. As we look at all the standards we have to teach, the assessments we’re asked to give, and the learning engagements we want to share, we quickly run out of hours in the school day. The question was central in our discussion on whether or not to give a writing assessment to our fourth graders the first week of school.
After much thought, I chose to ask my students to write to the prompt,
“In your opinion, what would be the best job to have as an adult?” Explain the reasons for your choice of career.
Students had 2 pieces of paper, a pencil, and 30 minutes to complete the task.
Armed with a rubric, I settled in to score their writing. As I read their paragraphs and categorized their scores on a spread sheet, I realized how much more I had learned about my students from this 30 minute task.
Knowledge from the data:
- Everyone wrote on topic – hooray!
- The majority of the returning students made a plan prior to writing, but we will need to review and reinforce the way to plan.
- Most students wrote in complete sentences – we will only need to touch on that skill to start the year.
- Sentence fluency and vocabulary instruction are a must.
- Begin spelling using a list of high frequency words.
- Handwriting was great
Knowledge of the heart:
- I learned who can persevere through a task and who was daunted. The three that went to the bathroom as soon as writing was announced will need an extra confidence boost.
- Students’ writing allowed me a peek into their hopes and dreams for the future.
- Personalities are beginning to show in our classroom.
Was it worth the 30 minutes of instructional time? I would definitely answer yes!