There has been a lot of talk around assessing children’s writing for a long time now.
Anxiety has been caused as a result of what constitutes independent writing. People are talking about the merits and disadvantages of comparative judgement but I think we are missing the point here. My instinct is that, in all likelihood, we shouldn’t be marking individual writing at all. We should be assessing the development of the writer over time. I trialled this in my class last year.
To ensure children could produce writing topics independently, over the course of the year, I taught the children the following self-regulatory strategies:
- How to generate ideas for writing independently,
- How to plan independently,
- Once they had written a draft, how to revise their pieces independently (including looking for opportunities to insert certain linguistic features required by the writing framework – if they saw an appropriate opportunity to do so).
- How to proof-read and edit their work.
- How to publish their work, focusing on their handwriting.
By teaching these things, when children had finished working on their class-writing project for the day, they were given opportunity to undertake personal projects. This was writing undertaken largely independently (apart from pupil-conferences) using the self-regulating strategies taught above.
I would use these personal writing projects alongside their class projects to make a judgement on how they were developing as an independent writer. To do this, I adapted the CLPE’s wonderful, fantastic Writing Scales.
My scales do differ from the CLPE’s as I also included:
- The typical writerly behaviours you’d expect to see of a child applying at different stages of the writing process.
- The grammatical, handwriting, spelling and punctuation features the framework asks to see from writers at a certain age.
- I also included more compositional and ‘writer behaviour’ aspects too. (These proved particularly useful when reporting to parents during parents evening and when writing school reports).
As you can see, they encourage you to look at the child as a writer and at a body of their work when making a judgement on their current development. From this, I was able to state whether I thought a child was emerging, met or exceeding the framework’s expectations.
If you’d like to view the writing scales, you are welcome, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’d like to find out more about how to set your children up to write independently you can view our blog post here.
If you’d like to read about our approach to teaching writing called ‘Real-World Literacy’, you can go here.
Please note: the views expressed on this blog are my own and may not represent my employer. The tenor of this article is to allow the reader to reflect on the assessment of children’s writing but is in no way a criticism of any school(s) policy or teachers’ practice.