Our goal was to create a collaborative time for English so that Discovery and Liberty English teachers could hone their skills at grading with a holistic rubric, while sharing writing and comprehension strategies. At the same time, by working together, our hope was that some vertical alignment in the teaching and expectation of student writing would organically occur.
We developed our plan, based on these outcomes, and held grade level meetings with the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade English teachers three times throughout the year. Each time, teachers were to agree on a prompt for each grade level, so students would all be writing on the same prompt. Teachers agreed on a week for writing, prior to our collaborative times together to assure that students were writing at relatively the same time, with the same amount of instruction prior to the writing task.
When we came together, we worked with to identify “range-finder” essays, in the same manner that AP graders prepare to grade essays. Our groups started with a handful of essays and scored them silently, using the rubric that will be used to assess their students’ writing on the ACAP Summative Assessment. Once all of the teachers scored the same essays silently, they were able to compare their grades and come to a consensus on the scores. This enabled teachers to become more consistent and objective in their scoring.
After the “range-finders” were identified, teachers continued to grade essays collaboratively, grading essays from other teachers’ classes. This practice gave them the opportunity to see how students across the district were performing and to look for patterns in writing successes and in writing gaps. At midday and again at the end of the day, teachers had the opportunity to share patterns that they noticed and to discuss how they could address skill gaps in student writing. Finally, they were able to share successes that they recognized in student writing and to share strategies that they are using in class, based on where those successes were occurring.
We plan on reaching out to teachers for feedback on this year’s writing plan and looking closely at the data that comes back from the writing portion of the ACAP Summative Assessment, in order to make informed adjustments to this plan. We will move forward with the implementation of this plan in high schools in the 2020-2021 school year.