As you begin to set professional development goals with your teachers, you may want to consider helping them use ongoing writing assessments as part of their curriculum planning. The K-8 Continuum for Assessing Narrative Writing (downloadable pdf file) was developed by the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is a valuable tool for introducing this practice. This tool is particularly helpful for those who are familiar with or are using Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study.
I have found this tool instrumental in helping teachers understand the difference between formative and summative assessment. In an age of high stakes testing, we are often tempted to mainly associate the word “assessment” with final writing products. But as we know, ongoing assessment invites us to meaningfully tailor our instruction. And because many teachers are unfamiliar with this practice, it is our responsibility as literacy coaches to model and guide them through it.
Here is one suggestion for how you might introduce and reinforce ongoing assessment–I encourage you to regularly examine students’ works-in-progress with teachers in their grade level teams, preferably focusing on a few students over the duration of the school year in order to observe and document growth. Using the K-8 Continuum for Assessing Narrative Writing, you may want to facilitate a discussion around the following questions:
- What do we notice about this student? Growth? Needs?
- What teaching points have taken hold for this student?
- What teaching points need to be introduced or re-taught?
- What kinds of conferring questions would benefit this student?
- What might this work-in-progress tell us about the classroom community at large?