Improving student writing through e-learning tools
My Year 10 class has changed dramatically since the beginning of the year. We are now down to 11 students, and there is a much better attitude to learning and each other.
Success using e-asTTle criteria
Our ERO reviewer suggested that we use e-asTTle to regularly (once a term) identify student achievement, then show students their next learning steps using the rubric. I was not impressed at the time, but eventually decided to give it a go.
There was much hesitation on my part about venturing down the e-asTTle writing track, having heard the horror stories. I would only do it with a small group like this, as the marking load was enormous.
However, the results were very interesting, with the students’ writing curriculum levels ranging from 1P to 4B.
Vocabulary and punctuation were two areas where there were weaknesses across the class, so these were my first targets.
Teaching and learning activities
1. I showed the students the e-asTTle rubric for vocabulary and punctuation. We unpacked what it actually meant. Then I showed each student where they currently were on the rubric.
2.Our next piece of writing was the origin story for a gaming character. We spent a lot of time looking at examples and learning vocabulary. The students had a week to create their story, and had feedback throughout the process.
3. As the students were getting close to submitting their work, I reminded them to look at the next steps for punctuation and vocabulary, and to check that they were hitting the targets.
Vocabulary: one student went down, one student remained the same (the highest achieving student), the others improved by one or two points.
Punctuation: three students remained the same, the others improved by one, two or three points.
Apply the same process to Structure and Language. We are working on a personal reading unit, and I showed the students the different language, ideas and organisation needed for a book summary and a personal response. I also spent more time putting the rubric in student language.
The students are creating a website to record their reading, and they need to include both a plot summary and a personal response.
I wrote this post some time ago, and it’s interesting to see what has changed in the last month. The personal reading unit was less successful in shifting student writing. Was it because the students were less engaged in the content, despite them being able to choose their own focus for reading (sports, teenage girls who become music stars …)? The students generally were able to improve their grades in Structure and Language, but overall the quality of the writing was not good.
When considering the bigger picture, the original focus of my inquiry was using e-learning tools to improve student writing. Where’s the e-learning? The writing is still very much Substitution (on the SAMR model) with a little bit of Augmentation. My own thinking has developed to encompass “21st Century Skills”: collaborate, create, share. The writing becomes part of the process rather than the focus. I guess that’s what the inquiry cycle is all about, using data and research to shift teaching and learning practice.
If I punctuated, I’d be even more dangerous.