Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Emphasizing Reading and Non-Fiction Writing in Every Assessment

Part of our weekly PLC sessions in our district are spent discussing what needs to occur in our classrooms as we promote and increase rigor and opportunity.  Today I discuss point # 2.  

Effective teachers emphasize reading and non-fiction writing in every assessment.
I'll be the first one to tell you I'm not a big fan of scripted writing, specifically when students follow scripts to paragraph writing.  At the end of the day a teacher faces reading 20+ paragraphs, each having five sentences which includes a topic sentence, a red, a green, and a blue or what ever the color coding for these approaches may be.  The topics may be different but the structure is the same. I don't think they promote good writing though some might argue they promote standard writing. And though there is a great deal of pressure in schools for students to perform well on state assessments we can still promote a love for or an interest in writing by providing opportunity for writing in everything they do, including assessment.
But I'm off task.... already.

Many of my thoughts on writing come from Laura Robb's book Non-fiction Writing from the Inside Out

What is important to me about writing is this:
  • Redefining non-fiction writing in a way that encourages creativity and relevance to both the reader and the writer.
  • Encouraging understanding so that students understand that the "league of writers" is not exclusive but open to everyone
  • Providing student examples as models of writing-in-process to encourage risk taking and exploration of unconventional approaches to writing. 

But, aside from my beliefs, the first question for me is:  What makes including reading and non-fiction writing in every assessment effective teaching?  

If I assume the answer - it does - to the above question is correct, that there is research to back the statement up, and I'm left to document how I do include reading and non-fiction writing in every assessment - well that's an easy task.  And though I do this because it jives with my beliefs and because it makes good pedagogical sense (incorporates critical thinking, etc...,) it leaves my curiosity to wonder how doing so makes me more or less effective?  

So I tried doing some research and have come up empty handed.  

If I am given the charge of incorporating reading and non-fiction writing into my teaching than I want to be sure what I am doing is being done well.

If you have resources to the question above, please forward them my way.

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