As I started looking through everyone's blogs I started to become a little overwhelmed. There are so many blog entries! I hadn't even thought of that. I was reading through some of my followers' blogs and I found a passage from Katie's. She is talking about a personal experience she's had with assigning and assessing her students' writing:
my other classes, I assign much of the writing as a grade. I do not critique
their actual writing though. Instead I skim through the writing to get the gist
and grade them based on the relevance to the assignment. If the student is
writing and is missing the main point, I will occasionally write questions back
to them, in an attempt to get them to be more thoughtful. Luckily, I have small
classes so if I did want to grade every piece of their writing, I could. But
what would the point in that be? Students would eventually write to appease me
and my demands and not for themselves. Writing should be a form of expression
and not always for a grade."
I thought she made a really good point when she said that if she graded every writing piece students are just going to write for the teacher, not for themselves. I can think of this as not only from a teacher's perspective but from a student's perspective as well. When I was in school all of our writing pieces were graded. I hated when we had writing time even if it was just for fifteen minutes out of our eight hour day. We wrote about what the teacher wanted us to write about and how she wanted us to write it. We were writing for her and it was a terrible experience. If students are writing just for the grades, like I did, it's going to create a negative attitude towards writing that won't change, even until you get into college. Writing papers was still my least favorite thing to do.
As a teacher, just like as a student, writing was my least favorite subject to teach and assess. I put my negative attitude aside and tried to make writing as positive as an experience for my students as I could but most of my students were struggling with writing. In college I wasn't taught the writing process or how to effectively teach writing so I felt like I was left in the middle of nowhere. I went back to the age-old "You must grade everything!" and I graded all final copies along with their drafts. It was a pain, not only for me but for the students as well. They were so discouraged and I just felt like I couldn't give them a truly positive attitude towards writing if I didn't have one myself. Reading Katie's blog entry made me realize that mechanics aren't the most important part of the writing, they certainly are important, but making sure that the students are able to comprehend what they're supposed to be writing about and that they are on topic is what's really important.
While rereading through Tompkins' (2012) chapter on assessing writing I found two measures of assessment that I really liked: checklists and assessment conferences. Checklists can be used at any point in the writing process, both to keep the students on task and afterwards, to make sure that they've completed everything. I think this is a good idea for students to fill out so that they become responsible for their own writing and just to make sure that they're using the process in order to produce better results. Tompkins (2012) states that, "Writing process checklists can also be used in conjunction with product assessment; teachers can base a percentage of students' grades on how well they used the writing process and the remaining percentage on the quality of the writing" (p. 89). I think this is really important. It will let students know that the writing process is really effective and that if they use it correctly and if they use it (period) it will increase their grade. I think assessment conferences are an awesome way for teachers and students to work collaboratively in order to come to a conclusion on a student's grade. It also gives the student a chance to know what he needs to work on and what his strengths are as well instead of just receiving a grade with no explanation. Tompkins (2012) states, "Atwell (1998) keeps these conferences brief, and at the end of the meeting, she and the student develop a set of goals for the following writing project or grading period" (p. 90). One downfall of these conferences is that they may take a lot of time, which is why I think I'd have a hard time fitting them into a scheduled time period.
There are so many ways to assess writing and so many different opinions and stemming off of Katie's response this is what I found and how I feel. I think that the way that she conducts her assessments is a very efficient and effective way to assess writing so that students are not only writing what they're supposed to be writing but they're writing for themselves as well.