Ranking Writing: Group Activity

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SWBAT read a passage and writing samples about it to determine the rank in which each response might be scored.

Big Idea

The shift of students needing to understand the expectations of how to state an opinion and give evidence to support it is tricky. In this lesson, students will be given writing samples that groups will have to rank by the article's evidence.

Groups and Guide

5 minutes

I start the lesson by explaining that when I meet with the other fourth grade teachers I often get together to grade their work. We do this when their is writing on our state progress tests. I ask my students to tell me about the article they read on the last assessment and what they had to write about after reading it. They remembered the article was on bats. They had to write whether they would rather be nocturnal or diurnal. 

After they took the test, the fourth grade teachers had to score their writing. I show them the rubric and explain how we read carefully what they wrote and then assign the score based on the rubric. Today they are going to be a team of teachers and are going to have grade four students responses to the same article they read. I explain that by acting as a teacher it will require them to look at the different writing more critically. They will have to look for different sections of the writing: opening, evidence from article, and conclusion. 

Each article represents a different score on the rubric. The zero response will be the lowest score and go to the paper that does not even answer the question or give enough information. I then read what a 3 score should look like. That response will have answered the question, given multiple details, use the story to help support their choice, and it will have clear conclusion. 

Before I split them into groups I explain the rules again. They will read the student paragraphs, then as a group decide which paper gets what score based on the scoring rubric. 

When I groups students, I put them in groups of four and I number them so that there is a good mix in each group. 

Read to Understand and Group Discourse

10 minutes

Once in their groups, I hand out the four papers. They need to read them and make sure that everyone in the group hears it. I suggest that they put it somewhere where they can all follow along with the reader because they are grading it. 

I have placed the rubric under the document camera so students can reference it when they are ready to grade. 

I then give them time to read and talk about each paper. I am walking around to listening to what the groups are saying and how they feel about each paper. It is very interesting listening to their thoughts. I learned that I do not want some of my students grading anything of mine, they really could pick apart each one. Some students could see right away which two had minimal details and which seemed to be better. A group just looked at and counted the details in the paragraphs while another group tried to explain where each student went wrong. 

Ranking Responses

10 minutes

It is now time to rank their responses and decide what grade each paper is going to get. This part caused some great debate. I noticed that students could agree quickly with the response that was the zero, but were really stuck trying to pick the best one. 

I had to remind several groups that they needed to use the rubric and not their opinion to score the papers. Students began to express how hard it was to grade writing and wanted the answers early. There always is one group that is afraid to be wrong. 

Final Answer with Discussion

8 minutes

The last part is to come together as a class and discuss their findings. I want this to be a student led discussion and them to use agree and disagree. We start with the zero and every group had the same paper chosen as the zero. They had very good reasons for why it was not going to get points. As we moved to the scored ones, students were really split. Quickly students came to the consensus of which was the paper with score of 1. 

This next part took lots of questioning by me to work through which might get what score. They had good reasons and read from the papers themselves to prove their point. I would bring them back to looking at the rubric and tried to go step by step with them through each requirement. We still had groups that would not budge. 

To end I gave them the answers and then we discussed why. Once they knew the discussion changed and the discourse became agreeable. They could find the evidence for why each received the score it did. 

I asked them if they could figure out why I would want them to look at this kind of writing. One boy answered, "because we probably wrote like the 1's and 2's." I explained that it was more for them to see what they needed to do in doer to receive a 3 or 4.