By Louise Law, Frontier Regional and Union #38 School District, MA

A Director of Elementary Education shares her district’s approach for mapping out the Writing curriculum in Atlas. This includes the integration of key resources, such as Student Work Exemplars and Rubrics from the Teacher’s College Reading & Writing Project (TCRWP), which provide teachers with samples of student writing. Their school district’s unit planning template consists of the following elements:

  • Unit Overview
  • Enduring Understandings/Essential Questions
  • MA Curriculum Frameworks & National Standards
  • Learning Objectives/Goals/Skills (written as “I Can Statements”)
  • Vocabulary
  • Evidence of Learning
  • Sample Learning Activities
  • Resources
  • Instructional Strategies

The process of assessing and posting exemplars of student writing at each grade level was useful as we began to update our writing curriculum a few years ago. Writing samples from students across the district were collected from each classroom and then scored by a team of teachers who collaboratively selected those that would be posted as exemplars for each level of proficiency at each grade level (click on images below for detail).

The purpose of posting these student writing examples on Atlas Curriculum Management System was to provide teachers with examples to show students and to guide their own assessment. We also included non-annotated versions for them to show students by posting on their Smartboards.We assess students in three different writing genres:  informational, narrative, and opinion/argument twice – as a pre and post test. We use the data to determine next steps in writing instruction both individually for the student and as a class.

We are continually looking at how we assess student progress in writing and have actually updated our Narrative Writing Rubric as we are now using the Writing Rubric from the Lucy Calkins writing units of study and plan to update our exemplars soon as our students’ writing is so much stronger as a result of this curriculum.

We also use individual checklists from the Lucy Calkins’ Writing Units for students to self evaluate their work before we score it. This involves students more directly in thinking about their own writing development. Then teachers enter the data in a template and look for patterns in the data.

Finally, note that the assessment aligns with standards and the highest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy  – Create:  when students are writing they are creating an original piece of work in response to a prompt.

Check out more ELA strategies in the related blogpost, “Reading, Writing, Grammar, Oh My!

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