Monday, December 10, 2012
Have you heard about Lucy Calkins' Curricular Plans for grades K-8? (Read here about them.) Lucy never ceases to stretch my thinking. In this document of hers, I learned about on-demand writing assessments. Here's what Lucy says about this.
"At the beginning of the year, and prior to beginning any unit, we encourage you to do an on-demand piece of writing, and use this data as a way to plan your minilessons for your children. If this is really going to be a true assessment, we cannot stress enough that you cannot scaffold kids' work during this assessment. Do not remind children of any examples, do not confer with kids, and do not give any spelling tips."
This is what she recommends a first grade teacher would say at the beginning of the year before starting a Small Moments unit study.
"Before we get started on this new year, I would love to see what you can do as writers of Small Moment stories, of true stories. Today, I'm going to give you a booklet that you'll use to draw and then write a story on one particular thing that you did. Make this an example of the best true story writing you can do. I hope your writing shows me what you can do as a writer. I'm not going to be helping you today - instead I'll just be observing you so that I can get to know you better as writers."
Then at the end of the unit, after publishing and celebrating, repeat the process. I did this for my small moments unit and was able to share both pieces with parents at conference time. They were so very impressed, and so was I. Even if a writer didn't conquer the idea of writing a developed small moment, their growth was too obvious to overlook and very much worth celebrating. In a few days I'll be finishing a realistic fiction unit. I can't wait to compare their on-demand piece at the beginning of the unit with the one at the end. I'm sure I'll be amazed at their progress as well as informed about how I can improve my instruction next year when I teach this unit again. Thanks again Lucy.