high school writing folders

Jane - posted on 08/12/2009 ( 8 moms have responded )

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My Virginia school system asks that we keep formal and informal writing samples from all of our high school students. I get that. What I do not understand is the rubric by which these samples are checked. It appears that those in charge are more concerned with our filing system than by the writing progress of our students.



If anyone is also asked to keep writing samples, please let me know how yours are checked. If you can be specific, it would help. Thank you.

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Angela - posted on 08/28/2009

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I'm glad to help, and I'm a firm believer that we're all better teachers when we share ideas and collaborate. I may be looking you up in the future to pick your brain! :-)

Jane - posted on 08/28/2009

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Angela! Your ideas are brilliant! Thank you so very much. I printed them and will put them in my plan book. Thankee, Thankee, Thankee!!



I agree; rubrics rock. Sometimes- without the students' knowledge -I will decide to grade only a few aspects of their writings.



Again, thank you for sharing your wisdom. Have a great year. I may be back to knock on your door ; )

Angela - posted on 08/28/2009

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I've used students' writing several different ways to teach writing, and you don't need writing folders to do this, but it is one way we have made use of the folders. Here are some ideas that I can remember off the top of my head:



-Have students choose their favorite work from the writing folder, even from a year or more ago, and rewrite it. Sometimes they are amazed at how much better they write now.



-Have students rewrite something in a different tense, or from a different perspective.



-I use student writing often to teach grammar. I'll have them take one of their essays and rewrite it using at least 10 participial phrases (and highlight them), then the next week maybe they will write on the same topic, but they will have to write and highlight at least 10 gerund phrases.



-For weak writers, sometimes it helps to have them take one of their essays and have them circle the first word in each sentence and underline the verb phrase in each sentence. Teach them how to vary their sentence structure once they see that all/most of their sentences fall under the same pattern. You can also have them change a certain number of linking verbs to action verbs.



There are many other ways I've used the student's previous year's writing to teach writing, but those are a few ideas. A lot of things you would do when editing papers before turning in final copies you could have them practice with last year's papers. They always need more practice, and it helps them feel more confident when they see how much their writing has improved in a year's time. Oh, as for reading each student's writing - it depends on the assignment. I have students do a lot of peer editing, and it is always guided, with a very specific peer editing handout that has to be filled out. Sometimes I also edit and grade the rough draft, which makes grading the final copy much easier, and sometimes I just skim it and look over it briefly. Either way I use rubrics made specifically for that assignment. I LOVE rubrics! :-)



Good luck, and have a great year!

Jane - posted on 08/26/2009

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Thank you for your reply and idea. I have never thought about using the previous year's writing to teach writing. Do you actually read each student's writing in order to teach a concept, or do you have students re-write and improve his or her final copy?



We have asked that the folders be dropped. I don't think that will happen any time soon. We used to use a more detailed approach. That was dropped. For a while we had no writing folders, and then, this was brought about. I guess they are here to stay.



Again, thank you for your repy and idea.

Angela - posted on 08/25/2009

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We have kept writing folders, much like you described, forever, but we are considering dropping the practice this year. Until now, we've had each level (freshman level, sophomore level, etc.) meet and decide which samples to keep each year, then it was passed on to the next teacher the next year. At the end of the senior year, the student gets to take it home. Ideally teachers use the folders in class with students to teach writing. Students have the opportunity to look at their own writing samples and see how they have grown as writers, and see where they still need to improve. However, few teachers actually use the folders to teach writing. That's why we're considering tossing the writing folder program. It's a lot of work if we aren't going to really use it.

Jane - posted on 08/23/2009

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Actually, all of the folders are kept in plastic crates which we pass from teacher to teacher each year. They are not kept in filing cabinets.

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