We’re heading into the final days of my 20 days of opinion writing series with a focus today on using student work samples. As you progress through your writing curriculum, be on the look-out for excellent examples of student writing. An “excellent” example, however, doesn’t necessarily mean a 4- or 5-point paper. You want to find student writing that clearly demonstrates characteristics at each of the possible score points along your scoring guide continuum.
Saving Student Work Samples
As you can see in the photo above, I selected one student sample that I thought best represented each of the five score points in the writing scoring guide. After covering up the authors’ names to conceal their identities, I made copies of the original essays and then laminated them for durability. These samples were then posted directly below the scoring point chart that they best represented. Sometimes it’s just easier for students to see an example when faced with a long list of scoring criteria no matter how “kid-friendly” it is written. I plan to store these samples and pull them out in subsequent years. Of course, I’m always looking for good work sample candidates so these will by no means be the only writings that I will save for future reference.
Another Use for Work Samples
If you have time for it, here’s another great use of student writing work samples. After I had collected one student writing that represented each score point, I typed them and formatted them in our final copy paper template. I did this to make them even more anonymous and with an identical format, kids could focus more on the craft and content instead of the visual presentation.
Make copies of the papers – either one for the entire class per day or just a few of each for small groups of students. Ask the students to read and compare the writings to the scoring guide. Can they figure out what score point each paper represents? Ask students to use highlighters or colored pencils to mark up the text with examples of various scoring criteria as they find it. For example, if there is a simile in the writing then this might indicate a 5-point paper because the use of figurative language is shown in this score point. This type of activity really helps cement the scoring criteria in students’ minds so if possible it’s best to do this early in your writing unit. If you haven’t already downloaded it, you can get a free copy of one week’s prompt from my opinion writing unit by clicking on the link below. Happy Teaching!