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October 2015 eNewsletter

4 Formative Assessment Activities for the Classroom

Cultivating a Strong Culture of Writing

We Want to Celebrate You!

Writing Giggle of the Month

TeacherStar: Varying Sentences

Upcoming Conferences
"We love WriteSteps! Our students return to their personal folders in their writing boxes time and time again to revisit their writing pieces because they are feeling so successful and accomplished."
~Laura Watkins and Renee Cummins, 4th grade teachers at George Washington Carver Elementary in Neosho, MO

4 Formative Assessment Activities for the Classroom
These four formative assessment activities can be used across content areas to quickly gather information on how well your students are mastering content or concepts.

Fishbowl
Use the Fishbowl activity to evaluate your students' understanding of the lesson and find out what further explanation is needed.

Give each student an index card or ½ sheet of paper. Each student writes a question about the lesson or topic. It might be something to which they do or do not know the answer. (No names are added.)

Put all questions into a container, such as a fish bowl. Have your students pair up and give each pair two questions. Pairs then discuss possible answers and write an answer on the back.

Once completed, all papers go back in the container. Pull as many index cards as time permits. Read the question and answer. Students respond with a thumbs up or down. Have your class decide on the correct answer and explain if a correct answer isn't on the card.

Shrinking Summary
Use this activity to assess individual student's understanding of the lesson or a particular focus skill. Give your students approximately 3 minutes to write a summary of the day's learning/lesson.

Next, ask them to highlight or circle 10 words or phrases that best represent the learning. (If a student doesn't have that many, ask them to choose 5 or so.)

Lastly, students take those chosen words and write a one sentence summary using the words.

3-2-1 Summarizer
This activity also gauges individual student's understanding of the lesson or a particular focus skill.

Give each student an index card, ½ sheet of paper, or our 3-2-1 summarizer sheet. Ask students to write:
  • 3 things they learned.
  • 2 things they found interesting.
  • 1 question they still have about the lesson or topic.
For a free copy of the 3-2-1 summarizer, click here.

Dry Erase Boards
Use this activity for any number of skill checks and to assess individual student's understanding of the lesson or a particular focus skill. For example, tell students a simple sentence to write on their boards, e.g. "The children run."

Then direct your students to revise the sentence using any grammar skill you would like to assess.

Examples: Revise by adding an adjective or adverb. Revise by changing run to a stronger verb. Change the word children to a noun with a regular plural. Change the word children and use proper nouns instead. Change children to a pronoun. Expand the sentence and make it compound. Use a simile to explain how fast the children run.

You can quickly check around the classroom to note who has mastered the skill and who has not.

Cultivating a Strong Culture of Writing
With the right writing tools, and adopting WriteSteps into the school's curriculum, students at Chauncey Davis improved 24% on their state tests within one year!

Click here now to learn how Principal Kresta Byington turned writing around at her school. You'll also receive the tools, Questions Teachers Have When Teaching Writing and Crunch the Numbers, mentioned in the case study.

We Want to Celebrate You!
One of the highlights of being a member of the WriteSteps team is hearing the success stories students, teachers, principals, and schools have with our program. There is nothing better than receiving an email from a teacher who says, "My students LOVE writing now. What a difference WriteSteps has made in my classroom."

We want to celebrate your successes! Please email Anjilla Young at Anjilla@WriteStepsWriting.com to share how WriteSteps has made an impact in your school and/or classroom. Examples of what you can send us include, but are not limited to: something positive a student said about writing, your own personal thoughts on writing instruction now that you've implemented WriteSteps, improvements you have seen in writing scores, students' views on writing before and after learning with WriteSteps, and any other stories you'd like to share. We will send a mystery present to you when you send us a story!

New TeacherStar Videos Are Posted
Several new TeacherStar videos were recently added to your eWriteSteps account. These are videos of teachers across the country teaching WriteSteps lessons in their own classrooms.

Teachers have told us they like to watch the videos and see other teachers model a lesson before they teach it themselves. You'll pick up quick little tips and ideas by watching the videos too!

You can see a complete list of the current TeacherStar videos here. This list has also been added to Pre-Unit 1 of your eWriteSteps account. Look for the document titled "Demo Videos."

TeacherStar: Varying Sentences
Take a peek into a third grade classroom as students learn about different types of sentences and how they improve writing. This is an excellent strategy for all students, especially English Language Learners.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sp1jg6PSMWQ

Writing Giggle of the Month
Do you have a funny student writing piece you can send us? If so, send it to Anjilla@WriteStepsWriting.com to be featured in an upcoming eNewsletter!

Source: BuzzFeed


Upcoming Conferences
October 15-17, Louisville, KY
Stop by the WriteSteps booth at the Kentucky Reading Association Conference and say hi to our new Awareness Ambassador, Kathleen Schutter. She will be able to answer any questions you have about WriteSteps

October 18-20, Charlotte-Concord, NC
Educational consultant Michele Hamer is going to be at the North Carolina Association of Elementary Educators Conference at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center. Stop by our booth to learn how we can help improve writing and grammar in your school!

October 18-20, State College, PA
Dodie Smith will be at the Pennsylvania Association of Elementary and Secondary School Principals Conference. If you're attending, take the time learn more about WriteSteps!

October 19, Louisville, KY
Awareness Ambassador Kathleen Schutter will exhibit at the Kentucky Association for Assessment Coordinators Workshop, located at the Gault House.

October 22-23, Long Branch, NJ
Are you attending the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association Conference? If so, Michelle Cutting will be there to answer any questions you might have.

October 22-23, Detroit, MI
Don't miss out on a great presentation! Kim Gates is presenting "Unlocking the Door to Writing Success" at the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools Conference at COBO Center on October 23 at 11:00 a.m. Herman Humes will be exhibiting during the conference too.

October 23, High Point, NC
Stop by the WriteSteps booth at the North Carolina Association of Independent Schools Conference and say hello to Michele Hamer. Ask her about Engagers, our brand new SMART Notebook interactive writing and grammar lessons.

October 26-28, Nashville, TN
Marilyn Massey is wrapping up a busy month for WriteSteps! She is exhibiting at the Tennessee Educational Leadership Conference in Nashville. Swing by our booth to learn how we can help improve writing and grammar in your school.


"So often you find that the students you're trying to inspire are the ones that end up inspiring you."
~Sean Junkins