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Start on. She will guide you through each video module, showing you effective strategies and approaches, applicable in a wide range of English language teaching contexts. Developing reading and writing skills presents challenges for teachers all over the world. So what are these challenges and how can they be resolved?

In this introductory video, hear teachers and students from around the world explaining the issues they have experienced, and the approaches they have found to be effective. These techniques, and many more, will then be explored in the series to follow. Need a little more help with your professional development?

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Simple curriculum-based methods for assessing written expression can meet all these purposes. Curriculum-based assessment must start with an inspection of the curriculum. Many writing curricula are based on a conceptual model that takes into account process, product, and purpose.

This conceptual model, therefore, forms the framework for the simple assessment techniques that follow. The diagnostic uses of assessment determining the reasons for writing problems and the student's instructional needs are best met by looking at the process of writing, i. How much planning does the student do before he or she writes? Does she have a strategy for organizing ideas?

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What seem to be the obstacles to getting thoughts down on paper? How does the student attempt to spell words she does not know? Does the student reread what she has written? Does the student talk about or share her work with others as she is writing it? What kind of changes does the student make to her first draft? In order to make instructionally relevant observations, the observer must work from a conceptual model of what the writing process should be.

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Educators have reached little consensus regarding the number of steps in the writing process. Writing experts have proposed as few as two Elbow, and as many as nine Frank, Each step has its own substeps and strategies that become more sophisticated as the students become more mature as writers, accommodating their style to specific text structures and purposes of writing. Assessment of the writing process can be done through observation of students as they go through the steps of writing.

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  7. Having students assess their own writing process is also important for two reasons. First, self-assessment allows students an opportunity to observe and reflect on their own approach, drawing attention to important steps that may be overlooked. Second, self-assessment following a conceptual model like POWER is a means of internalizing an explicit strategy, allowing opportunities for the student to mentally rehearse the strategy steps.

    Figure 1 is a format for both self-observation and teacher observation of the writing process following the POWER strategy. Similar self-assessments or observation checklists could be constructed for other conceptual models of the writing process. An effective writing process should lead to a successful product.

    A writing product fulfills its communicative intent if it is of appropriate length, is logical and coherent, and has a readable format.

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    It is a pleasure to read if it is composed of well-constructed sentences and a rich variety of words that clearly convey the author's meaning. When various conceptual models of writing are compared side by side Isaacson, five product variables seem to emerge: fluency, content, conventions, syntax, and vocabulary. Too often teachers focus their attention primarily on surface features of a student's composition related to the mechanical aspects of writing, or conventions.

    A balanced assessment should look at all five aspects of a student's writing. The following are simple methods for assessing each product variable. In some instances quantifiable measures are used; in others, qualitative assessments seem more appropriate. The first writing skill a teacher might assess with a beginning writer is fluency: being able to translate one's thoughts into written words. As concepts of print and fine motor skills develop, the student should become more proficient at writing down words and sentences into compositions of gradually increasing length.

    The developmental route of very young writers involves trying to understand what written language is about as they look at books, become aware of environmental print, and put pencil to paper Clay, Then children try to relate their experiences in writing using invented spelling.

    As they begin to construct little stories they explore spelling patterns and develop new language patterns. Clay , recommends a simple rating scale for emerging writing skills that focuses on language level from only letters to sentences and paragraphs , message quality, and directional principles Figure 2.

    A simple curriculum-based measure of fluency is total number of words written during a short writing assignment. When fluency is the focus, misspellings, poor word choice, and faulty punctuation are not considered. Attention is only directed to the student's facility in translating thoughts into words.

    A baseline of at least three writing samples should be collected and the total number of words counted for each. For the purpose of evaluation, this total can be compared with those of proficient writers of the same age or grade level. However, total words may be used best in monitoring the student's progress, comparing performance with his or her own previous fluency.

    A resulting IEP objective might be written like this: After a group prewriting discussion with the teacher, Daniel will write original narrative compositions of [40] words or more. A rough guideline for setting the criterion can be established from research reported by Deno, Mirkin, and Wesson and Parker and Tindal :.

    Content is the second factor to consider in the writing product. Content features include the composition's organization, cohesion, accuracy in expository writing , and originality in creative writing.

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    General questions the classroom teacher can ask regarding a composition's organization include:. Analytical scales are the best way to lend some objectivity to evaluation of content. One can choose from a general rating scale, appropriate to almost any writing assignment, or one tailored to a specific genre or text structure. Spandel and Culham developed an analytical trait scoring guide for six aspects of writing, three of which address content: Ideas and content, organization, and voice.

    Voice refers to the author's own unique personality, style, and honesty reflected in the writing. Each of these traits is scored on a five-point scale. For example, organization is scored using the following guidelines:. To promote agreement between raters, each of the guidelines above is further defined by specific criteria or rubrics. A rating of 3, for example, requires these attributes:. A composition that is somewhat better organized than described by the guidelines for 3 but does not quite fit the descriptors for 5 would receive a rating of 4. Similarly, a rating of 2 falls between the descriptors for 1 and 3.

    Analytical scoring guidelines such as these are used in many state writing assessments. There are two limitations to scales such as these. First, teachers must spend many hours learning the rubrics and discussing student compositions in order to establish any degree of integrater reliability.

    Second, these scales may not be sensitive enough to measure growth in students with emerging literacy skills who are unable to achieve a rating above 1 or-at the most For many students, writing instruction begins with smaller units of discourse, such as a paragraph. Welch and Link recommended an informal paragraph assessment that focuses on each of a paragraph's three parts: topic sentence, supporting sentences, and clincher sentence Figure 3. Each part can receive a point for its existence, its form grammatical correctness , and its function relevance to the topic.

    Both topic sentence and clincher sentence can earn only one point for each of the three criteria, but up to three supporting sentences can be scored for existence, form, and function. This scale could be used to evaluate almost any kind of paragraph.

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