“What is the best way to assess my students’ writing?”…This is a question I have struggled to answer since I began teaching. It is hard to decide on the appropriate assessment when there are so many to choose from. My goal as a teacher is to always be fair and support my students as growing learners. Therefore, I believe it is important to utilize a variety of writing assessments in order to “…improve the reliability, validity, and fairness of classroom assessment” (Tompkins, 2012). What is fitting for one writing piece may not be fitting for another, which is why I have difficulty choosing which type of assessment to use. However after reading chapter 4 in Tompkins, I have developed a better understanding of how to appropriately assess my students’ writing.
As a student myself, I also struggle with writing, and it is important to me to not turn or scare my students away from it. Currently, I am working towards finding a balance between correcting students’ errors and letting them write freely. I have come to the conclusion that it depends on the piece of writing as to whether I should mark it up or let it be. I no longer grade their journals based on writing conventions, but rather on the development of their ideas; however, I do correct their published writing pieces as a way to guide them in their writing. As a teacher I strongly believe that you have to make mistakes in order to learn and grow. I continuously stress this idea to my students in order to make them feel comfortable to take risks in their writing.
Tompkins (2012) discusses the importance of having students create a portfolio of their writing pieces. I think they are a beneficial tool for teachers because they clearly document each student’s progress. Portfolios also allow students to reflect on their growth as writers and compare where they are now to where they started, which I believe is a very rewarding experience. I agree with Tompkins, that “reflection is part of the writing process itself…” (p. 100). You cannot expect your students to become successful writers if they do not take the time to reflect on the mistakes they have made and learn what they need to work on. Therefore, it is essential to provide multiple opportunities to conference with your students and discuss their writing pieces.
There are many assessment tools that I am taking away from this chapter and hope to utilize in my future classroom. First and foremost, I will informally monitor my students’ writing progress, by observing them and keeping anecdotal records, as a way to guide my instruction and provide effective teaching. Secondly, I will differentiate my forms of assessment in order to give my students clear expectations and support them in their writing. Lastly, I will make time to conference with them in order to get to know them as individuals and guide them in their writing. I strongly believe every person is a writer inside, and it is my aim to bring that out in all of my students.
Tompkins, G. E. (2012). Teaching writing: Balancing process and product (6th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill