The Writing Framework: How It Is Possible To Assess Writers And Not Just The Writing.

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.

 

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  • The grammatical, handwriting, spelling and punctuation features the framework asks to see from writers at a certain age.

 

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  • 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).

 

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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 literacyforpleasure@gmail.com

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.

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The Four Week Reading Programme

The 4-Week Reading Programme

A project carried out several times in one primary school by two SENCOs. Hard work, but very rewarding!

Why did it come about? The two teachers felt they wanted to inform parents more about their children’s reading and to involve them more meaningfully beyond the customary comment in the home school reading record book.

They were also attracted by the idea of carrying out a small piece of action research and by the possibility of enriching the reading experience for both parents and children.

The Aims: To see if regular reading sessions at home with a parent (every night for 4 weeks, day off on Sunday) would have an impact on children’s motivation, attitudes and possibly, performance.

The Participants: 12 children of different ages took part in each programme – some who were finding reading difficult, and some who read well but were not turning to books as a source of pleasure.

What Was Done:

  • Publicity posters put up in school
  • Children & staff briefed
  • Parents invited to attend meeting (100% did)
  • Aims explained; “best way to read” discussed i.e maintain interest of story, encourage and allow time to use all strategies, give word if necessary to keep the ‘flow’. Learn when to join in, when to hold back
  • Short video shown of SENCOs reading with children.

The Materials

  • Small booklet for record-keeping spaces for date, title and parent/child comment, for each family.
  • Book-baskets with variety of texts to suit 12 children of different abilities and tastes. Children changed books as often as they wished. Contents changed every week.

Evaluation

At the end of week 4, parents and children wrote a final reflection on the experience. Comments were invariably positive; all parents spoke of shared enjoyment and many reported increased fluency.

It seems therefore, that there is something special for a child in being in the ‘spotlight’ for a limited time, and that this may raise the quality of the reading.

The parents involved were 100% enthusiastic and supportive throughout. The SENCOs wrote up the project and it attracted considerable local interest at the time.

And finally… other children queued up to join in!

To contact me about setting up The 4 Week Reading Programme for children in your school. You can contact me here.