East Grand teachers learn new ways to teach writing
February 11, 2009
An instructor from the National Literacy Coalition trained more than 60 East Grand teachers from the kindergarten through 12th grades this winter on how to implement Every Child a Writer. The staff learned how to better support different levels of writers in the classroom, and were given scoring guides to help students and staff focus on specific areas of strength and weakness in writing. They received instructional strategies to meet the needs of the struggling student to the most gifted.
“We have been able to make huge gains in implementing a writing assessment this year from what we learned last year,” East Grand Superintendent Nancy Karas said. “I consider last year to be the storming year as we tried to help the staff recognize the importance and power of an assessment of this level and quality.”
Teachers throughout East Grand School District scored more than 1,300 writing assessments for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade on Feb. 6.
In order to monitor consistency of the scoring, teachers were each given six to 12 papers across multiple grade levels to score individually. Once those were completed they switched papers with a colleague to be scored a second time. Following the scoring of each paper by both teachers, the papers were brought together by that team to compare scores, discuss likenesses and differences in how they awarded scores, and if needed, a third scorer was brought into the conversation until the group came to an agreement on how to score the paper, according to Karas.
“This calibration of the scoring process is important to the reliability of these results to be used by every classroom teacher and their students,” she said. “Once we felt the room of scorers would give the same scores on any assessment we set them loose to continue scoring papers. Our goal is to score every paper twice, hopefully resulting in the same score. If not, a third scorer will assess the paper before it is returned to the student.”
These assessments allow staff to monitor the level of learning, and provide early interventions for struggling students, she said.
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Teachers will come together again Friday, Feb. 13 to continue scoring the writing assessments. Once all papers are scored and data is collected, the papers will be returned to the classroom teachers to be used for making instructional decisions, informing students of performance levels, setting goals to focus on growth and improvement for students, and eventually become part of each students’ academic portfolio. As this assessment process is finalized the information will become available to parents as part of their student’s academic portfolio. These results are not intended for public display or distribution.
“The most exciting part to me is seeing the teachers implement what they learned from the NLC,” Karas said. “In those classrooms that have implemented the NLC strategies, the students are informed, empowered, engaged, and supported.”