I spent a great afternoon yesterday, working with a group of sixth graders in Reno.  As part of my expository project (to be finished this June), I am gathering expository samples from 6th-8th graders.  Four weeks ago, I had this group of sixty sixth graders write an expository sample inspired by this prompt: If you could switch places with someone else, who would you switch with and why?

The students' samples were assessed by two of my favorite state scorers (my wife and our friend, Campbell), using the rubrics that are applied to our eighth grade writing test.  Yesterday, I returned to the sixth graders where we looked at the rubrics, we predicted what score we think we each earned, then we analyzed our actual scores.

I had them graph their own scores, using a tool (see below) created by some very wise fifth grade teachers a few years back.  These sixth graders began understanding where their skills as writers specifically shine, and they began understanding how they could set some personal goals based on their weaker traits.

Click here to access this data sheet from WritingFix.

It was great fun watching students "map their data out," and listening to them ask questions about what it would take to move a specific score higher.

With the rubrics in hand, they then set two very specific goals for specific writing skills they will work harder on to increase their score (even if just by a half a point) for the next expository prompt we will be practicing with.  We're going to have a little contest for the 5 or 6 writers who successfully raise their scores the most by following the goals they chose for themselves..

I return to them on March 24th to begin pre-writing for their next prompt.  Before they write, each student will be required to look over the two goals they set.

Gotta love intelligent uses of data in the classroom.  It really can motivate learners.



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