Assessing with an In-Class Writing Assignment

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Objective

SWBAT cite textual evidence in a paragraph based on a self-selected biography or autobiography.

Big Idea

Why is it important for the world to know about this person?

Starter

10 minutes

To begin today's lesson, I hand the students back their KWL charts and Dialectical Journals that I have collected as they read either a biography or an autobiography.

As a warm-up for today's writing assignment, I have students fill in the "L" section of the KWL chart, adding details they have learned about the subject of their book.

Getting Down to Business

45 minutes

For this particular assessment, I don't simply hand it out and let students get to work.

I find that with a little bit of time spent analyzing the assignment and rubric yields a much better product.  Because, let's be honest, no one wants to spend hours reading crappy paragraphs!

The first thing we do is break down the writing prompt.  I explain the three parts of the prompt to them:

  1. An idea to frame their thinking.
  2. A question to answer.
  3. Specific instructions for the assignment.

I have them underline "examples from the text" and "explain why your evidence is important." 

We then turn to the rubric.  I will ask them what the focus of this particular paragraph should be.  Hopefully, a few of them can articulate that they are explaining why people should know about the subject of their book. 

I then draw their attention to the organization section of the rubric.  Specifically, I want them to understand how this paragraph should be organized: I am looking for a topic sentence, three pieces of evidence with explanation, and a conclusion sentence.  I let them know that this is very difficult to do in less than eight sentences (cue moans and groans).  I do assure them though, that those three examples are sure to be "sufficient" and will earn them top points for the "evidence" category!

Using their dialectical journals and KWL charts, the actual writing of this paragraph should take no more than 30 minutes.

Grading the Assessment

I grade this assignment using the rubric right on the page.  If they have followed instructions, this one doesn't take too long, yet it hits many Common Core writing skills!