Archive of ‘Writing’ category

Paragraphs – a Rubric

Rating Descriptions
0 – The use of cohesive devices is limited, making it difficult for the reader to follow the line of argument.

1 – The writer has followed a clear structure, but needs to deal with a single topic/ idea in each one. More connectives (e.g. in other words, consequently, finally, furthermore, for example, on the other hand) will also make the text more cohesive.

2 – The writer has followed a clear structure in each paragraph, using openers, closers and connectives effectively, and each paragraph deals with a single topic/ idea. Work at the sentence level (theme at the beginning of sentence) and at the word level (antonyms, synonyms, repetition) will help to make this text more cohesive.

3 – The structure, paragraphs, sentences, vocabulary, and use of connectives make this a very cohesive and coherent text so that the reader could easily follow the line of argument and be persuaded.

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NAPLAN and EALD Language and Literacy Levels

NAPLAN writing assessment is a tool to assess student writing in either persuasive or narrative texts. The assessment uses a rubric in a number of specific areas to determine a score.

In both text types the following aspects are analysed:

  • Audience
  • Text structure
  • Cohesion
  • Sentence structure
  • Punctuation
  • Spelling

Additionally when analysing narratives Language devices are assessed, and when persuasive writing is analysed persuasive devices are also monitored.

Comparatively the EALD Language and Literacy Levels divide the analysis of writing into the following areas:

  • Composing learning area texts
  • Text Knowledge
    • Organisational structures
    • Text cohesion- Foregrounding
      • Text and paragraph openers
      • Sentence openers including using passive voice to change what is foregrounded
      • Reference: pronouns, determiners and substitution
  • Grammar Knowledge
    • Sentence structure
      • Simple
      • Compound
      • Complex
    • Punctuation
      • Sentence level
      • Basic punctuation
      • Beyond basic
    • Words and word groups
      • Verbs and verb groups
      • Adverbs, adverb groups/ phrases and prepositional phrases
      • Noun groups/ phrases, including plurals, articles and nominalisation
    • Expressing opinion and point of view
      • Evaluative language
      • Modality
      • Expressing opinion directly
  • Word Knowledge
    • Understanding/ using learning area vocabulary
    • Spelling

NAPLAN is a measurement tool, providing information about where students are in relation to the aspects measured – a summative assessment.
The EALD Language and Literacy Levels are a description of how language skills develop. Therefore they provide much more information to the teacher about where to next – a great teaching and assessment tool; formative and summative assessment.

Although specifically designed to support the development of language and literacy of high needs students, the Levels are a teaching tool to support teachers with all learners. They provide a framework for “high expectations and high support (Mariani 1997)”, enabling a closing of the gap between a student’s language resources and those required for their year level.

Underpinned by a systematic and explicit pedagogy based in:

  • Teaching in advance of language development
  • Stretching students’ knowledge and imagination beyond what they can readily do independently
  • Encouraging the use of strategies such as self-correction and trial and error
  • Customising support for individual learners, including modifying the level of support and the timing of its withdrawal as students move to independence

Implications on practice

Gradual release of responsibility
Zone of proximal development
Explicit teaching – unpacking the demands of the curriculum – How language works, why language choices are made, what the effects of certain choices are and how to use language in powerful ways.
The teaching and learning cycle – 4 key stages
1. Setting the context
2. Modelling and text deconstruction
3. Joint construction
4. Independent construction

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Literacy Block

Successful elements of Literacy Block this term:

  • Class novel which links with the focus area
  • Comprehension strategies modelled through the use of the class novel, e.g. visualisation, think aloud, questions, predictions, etc.
  • Finding examples of the focus in students individual texts e.g. dialogue – explore the punctuation patterns, similes, metaphors
  • Students practising the comprehension strategies during independent reading – showing proof via post it notes, records, blog entries, goal setting and review.
  • Applying author’s craft to their own work – using dialogue – characters from the class novel (Shadow Puppets), then applying this technique to their own story writing
  • Using multi-media elements to communicate their story
  • Reading the great student written stories aloud to the class

Expand next year by including:

  • Guided Reading – as per last term, but limit to three in each group to ensure engagement.
  • Regular partner reading sessions, focusing on the reading comprehension strategies
  • Build in CAFE approach by involving students in regular goal setting – Comprehension, Accuracy, Fluency, Expand Vocabulary
  • Develop fluency further by adding recording of students reading aloud on their blog – Audioboo, Audacity, Educreations, Show Me
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Rubrics are Bull… Says George.

After reading Selena Woodward’s article about rubrics tonight I reflected on my thoughts and practice. I kind of agree with both George and Selena. Rubrics can be useful and guide instruction, helping to make learning visible to students and teachers, but they can be superficial and perhaps restrictive. It also reminded me of an article I had read last year.

In July last year after reading Fang and Wang’s article in the ALEA Journal, Vol 34, No 2, 2011 I wrote this reflective comment:

Beyond Rubrics: Using Functional Language Analysis to Evaluate Student Writing
Zhihui Fang & Zhijun Wang University of Florida and University of Finance and Economics, China
This article argues that rubrics are neither exact nor objective. Instead the authors introduce an assessment method that encourages the evaluation of content, organization and style.

This article strikes a chord with me. I agree that at times rubrics don’t seem to quite fit the bill. The LYMY assessment of MILO (mechanics, ideas, language and organisation) which I felt very confident and comfortable using seems similar to the content, organisation and style structure that this article suggests. This also fits well with the methodology suggested by Bev Deriwianka on the weekend. Exploring and teaching grammar in context and focusing on how meaning is presented through the deliberate use of language are important aspects to attend to.

Teaching students how to use simple, compound and complex sentences is only part of the job. Teaching them when to use these effectively for different purposes is an important aspect. Eg. explore the grammatical structure needed to write an information report: generic participants, clauses with linking verbs (eg., be, have), verbs in present tense, technical vocabulary, nominalisations, and expanded noun groups with embedded clauses and other modifiers.

I think I am slowly getting to the stage where I can confidently use a framework such as this to explore language use. However, I have reverted to using a rubric this year after exploring the Australian Curriculum and knowing that I am required to provide an A-E grade at the end of the year. This is the rubric I have created to go with the Traditional Stories unit of work we have been working on this term:

Term 4 Rubric

Frameworks to guide both instruction and learning are important. I would like to explore these more, including the SOLO taxonomy as a way of gaining insight into strength and needs of students, both for instruction and remediation.

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