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  1. Writing in Content AreasKevin R. Raczynski The Georgia Center for Assessmentkraczyns@uga.edu706.296.6215 (direct)

  2. Today’s Objectives • Look at a few reasons why writing more in all content areas is an excellent idea. 2) Discuss some tips for creating an effective bank of writing prompts. • Review some practical steps for scoring these responses consistently—What to look for, using the G8WA Rubrics 4) Do some scoring yourselves. 2

  3. Why Have More Writing in Content Areas?Some answers: Research studies have demonstrated that exposing students to well-designed writing topics improves student learning outcomes. For example, Hand, Hohenshell, & Prain (2003) demonstrated that Biology students exposed to a larger number of writing assignments performed better on a final exam in Biology.  That is, students engaged in writing become more adept writers, but there is also evidence that they perform more favorably on objective tests (e.g., multiple-choice tests). 3

  4. Why Have More Writing in Content Areas?Some more answers: To an ever increasing degree, students will communicate whatthey know through writing (Peterson, 2007). For example… Assignments in your class The Grade 8 Writing Assessment The Georgia High School Writing Test The Gateway The SAT Advanced Placement Tests University assignments and tests 4

  5. The good news is that these writing contexts have A LOT in common. For example, a common prompt structure Writing Situation (“A” Part) One sentence introducing the general topic. One to two sentences providing some broader context. Directions for Writing (“B” Part) The actual question—asking the student to communicate clearly about specific aspects of the general topic (1-2 sentences). General Topic Context for the Topic Format, purpose, audience, & task

  6. 2009 Persuasive Writing Topic Writing Situation Your principal would like to add a new class that is not currently offered in your school. The principal has asked students to make recommendations about new classes. Decide what class you would recommend for your school. Directions for Writing Write a letter to convince the principal that your new class is the best one for the school. Be sure to include detailed reasons. General Topic Context for the Topic Format, purpose, audience, & task

  7. Georgia High School Writing Test Writing Situation (“A” Part) Many states are increasing the minimum driving age to prevent accidents involving teenage drivers. Some teenagers are worried because they depend on driving to get to work or school activities. Decide what you think about the issue. Directions for Writing (“B” Part) Write a letter to your state representative that explains why the driving age in Georgia should be raised, lowered, or remain the same. Support your position with specific examples and details. General Topic Context for the Topic Format, purpose, audience, & task

  8. SAT Writing General Topic Excerpt (“A” Part) Winning does not require people to be against someone else; people can reach their goals through cooperation just as well as they can through competition. Winning is not always the result of selfish individualism. People achieve happiness by cooperating with others to increase the happiness of all, rather than by winning at others' expense. Ours is not a world in which the price of one person's happiness is someone else's unhappiness. Assignment (“B” Part) When some people win, must others lose, or are there situations in which everyone wins? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this issue. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations. Context for the Topic Writer’s task

  9. Part 1: Creating a Prompt Bank 1. Prompts for Longer Assignments (1-4 per year) 2. Prompts for Tests and Assignments (every unit) 9

  10. Creating a GOOD prompt bank 1) Identify what you’re trying to measure. 2) Make the question manageable for the student. “Manageable”: The student could reasonably respond in the allotted time, and the expectations are CLEAR. 10

  11. A Problem: A question that overwhelms Part A: The creation of the Constitution entailed hours of debate and compromise, and even when it was completed, some delegates were unhappy with it. In general, the Federalists wanted to ratify the Constitution, but the Anti-Federalists did not. The task of fixing the ailing Confederate government was not complete yet; each state had to ratify, or approve, the Constitution. Basically, people divided into two groups, the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists. Each of their viewpoints is worth examining, as they both have sound reasoning. The Anti-Federalists did not want to ratify the Constitution. Basically, they argue that: It gave too much power to the national government at the expense of the state governments. There was no bill of rights. The national government could maintain an army in peacetime. Congress, because of the necessary and proper clause,' wielded too much power. The executive branch held too much power. The Federalists, on the other hand, had answers to all of the Anti-Federalist complaints. Among them: The separation of powers into three independent branches protected the rights of the people. Each branch represents a different aspect of the people, and because all three branches are equal, no one group can assume control over another. A listing of rights can be a dangerous thing. If the national government were to protect specific listed rights, what would stop it from violating rights other than the listed ones? Since we can't list all the rights, the Federalists argued that it's better to list none at all. Part B: Write a report explaining why the Federalists wanted to ratify the Constitution and why the Anti-Federalists did not. Then, take the part of either Thomas Jefferson with the Anti-Federalists or Alexander Hamilton with the Federalists and explain how your opinions would help develop a better government for the United States. 11

  12. A Solution: Use the State Format Writing Situation (“A” Part) One sentence introducing the general topic. One to two sentences providing some broader context. Directions for Writing (“B” Part) The actual question—asking the student to communicate clearly about specific aspects of the general topic (1-2 sentences). General Topic Context for the Topic Format, purpose, audience, & task

  13. The Big Picture: What am I trying to measure with this writing prompt? Start with the standards: for example, 6th Grade Science Cognitive Standard: Communicate ideas clearly (all grades) Content Standard:Describe what causes tectonic plates to move and the major geological events that occur as a result. For example, can the student communicate clearly about how convection currents cause lithospheric plates to move and the consequences of this movement? 13

  14. The End Product General Topic and Context Writing Situation As an expert on the theory of plate tectonics, you have been asked to give a speech at the 2008 World Geology Conference explaining how the movement of the tectonic plates on the lithosphere cause change on the surface of the earth. Directions for Writing Write a speech explaining what causes movement of the tectonic plates, and then describe the major geological events that this movement has created on the Earth’s surface at: • Convergent Boundaries • Divergent Boundaries • Transform Boundaries Format, purpose, audience, & task

  15. Shorter questions can follow the same structure General Topic & Context Writing Situation Day one of your voyage takes you to the lithosphere in the Earth’s magma. This is where convection currents occur. Directions for Writing Write a one paragraph journal entry explaining how convection currents occur and cause lithospheric plates to move. The Writer’s Task

  16. The Big Picture: What am I trying to measure with this writing prompt? Start with the standards: for example, Grade 7 Social Studies Cognitive Standard: Communicate ideas clearly (all grades) Content Standard: Describe the historical events and religious differences that have led to conflict between Israel and Palestine. For example, can the student communicate clearly about the Israeli and Palestinian conflict? 16

  17. The End Product Writing Situation This unit we have discussed the ongoing conflicts between Israel and Palestine. Some of the reasons for this conflict include control of land and cultural differences. You are a reporter investigating this conflict. Directions for Writing Write a news article explaining the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. Be sure to discuss: • Specific historical events that led to conflict • Religious differences for the continuing conflicts • How the conflict continues today General Topic Context for the Topic Format, purpose, audience, & task

  18. Shorter questions can follow the same structure General Topic & Context Writing Situation This unit we have discussed the ongoing conflicts between Israel and Palestine. Directions for Writing In one paragraph, describe how the Camp David Accords affected relations between Israelis and Palestinians. The Writer’s Task

  19. The Big Picture: What am I trying to measure with this writing prompt? Start with the standards: for example, Grade 8 Math Cognitive Standard: Communicate ideas clearly (all grades) Content Standard:The student will understand the laws of probability. For example, can the student communicate clearly about the laws of probability? 19

  20. I recommend short answer essay questions for mathematics General Topic & Context Writing Situation You are at Six Flags, and you notice a booth called “Challenge the Math Wizard.” If you successfully answer the Math Wizard’s question, you win free admission to Six Flags. You decide to accept the challenge. Directions for Writing The Math wizard asks you this question: Which of these 2 scenarios is more probable? • If you flip a fair coin five times it will be heads exactly twice. • If you flip a fair coin ten times it will be heads exactly three times. In one paragraph, explain which scenario is more probable by setting up the equation and solving for the probability of both. The Writer’s Task

  21. Some things to keep in mind… Keep it clear. Keep it concise. Avoid irrelevant information. 21

  22. Part 2: What to look for when scoring responses 1. Ideas 2. Organization 3. Style 4. Conventions 22

  23. Ideas Organization Style Conventions What’s being assessed?Georgia Grade 8 Writing Assessment

  24. Ideas Organization Style Conventions What’s being assessed?Georgia High School Writing Test

  25. Ideas: The degree to which the writer develops a point of view on the issue and demonstrates critical thinking, using clearly appropriate examples, reasons, and other evidence to support the position Organization: The degree to which the response is well organized and clearly focused, demonstrating clear coherence and smooth progression of ideas Style: The degree to which the response exhibits skillful use of language, using a varied, accurate, and apt vocabulary and demonstrates meaningful variety in sentence structure Conventions: The degree to which the response is free of most errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics For the scoring rubrics, visit http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/sat/about/sat/essay_scoring.html) What’s being assessed?SAT Writing

  26. “The score reflects the quality of the essay as a whole—its content (ideas and how they’re organized), its style, its mechanics (conventions).” For question-specific scoring guides, visit www.collegeboard.com. What’s being assessed?AP Exam in Lit./Comp.

  27. Unity: a central idea, and evidence organized around the central idea. Evidence/ Development (Ideas) Coherence (Ideas and Organization) Presentation and Design (Conventions) Audience Awareness (Style) Distinction (Style) For more info, visit http://web.english.uga.edu. What’s being assessed?First-Year Comp. at UGA…slightly different names; same traits

  28. The Components of Ideas Ideas: The degree to which the writer establishes a controlling idea and elaborates the main points with examples, illustrations, facts, or details that are appropriate to the assigned genre.

  29. Depth of Development: the key to Ideas Controlling Idea (Focus) Relevant Supporting Ideas Major Details Specific Examples And Elaboration

  30. 2009 Persuasive Writing Topic Writing Situation Your principal would like to add a new class that is not currently offered in your school. The principal has asked students to make recommendations about new classes. Decide what class you would recommend for your school. Directions for Writing Write a letter to convince the principal that your new class is the best one for the school. Be sure to include detailed reasons. General Topic Context for the Topic Format, purpose, audience, & task

  31. Example of Depth of Developmentin a Paragraph Sample Body Paragraph We really need this class so girls won’t think we are total idiots. When you approach a female you don’t just say “Can I have your phone number.”You should tell them a little about yourself. I always tell girls that I’m sensitive and a good listener. Also, try to make up a good topic to talk on.Ask her whether she watches shows like The Office. If she does, you can talk about how lame Michael Scott is around girls in his office. That will probably make for some laughter. From a student’s response to prompt 112. Why not add a class called Talkin’ to Girls? It will help prepare young men for this important task. Controlling Idea: Supporting Idea Major Details Specific Details and Examples

  32. Example of Depth of Developmentin Score Point 1 I would like to recommend that we have a class for the boys. The name of this class is Talkin’ to Girls. This class will help prepare young men to be able to talk to females. We really need this class so girls won’t think we are total idiots. The problem now is that boys are totally uncomfortable around girls.This class would help boys feel more confident. Plus, this class won’t require a lot. So lots of boys will take it.

  33. Example of Depth of Developmentin Score Point 2 I would like to recommend that we have a class for the boys. The name of this class is Talkin’ to Girls. This class will help prepare young men to be able to talk to females. We really need this class so girls won’t think we are total idiots. When you talk to girls, you should tell them a little about yourself. Try to make up a good topic to talk on. The problem now is that boys are totally uncomfortable around girls.This class would help boys feel more confident.It will have lots of lessons that are hands-on that put boys in real-life situations talking to girls. This class won’t require a lot. All you have to do is sign up for it and bring a few basic supplies. The class will require lots of reading and studying, which will help boys succeed. In no time, you will be confident enough to go talk to the girl of your dreams.

  34. Example of Depth of Development in Score Point 3 I would like to recommend that we have a class for the boys. The name of this class is Talkin’ to Girls. This class will help prepare young men to be able to talk to females. The reason why we need this class is so that we can prepare the boys for all of the emotions they are going to experience. We really need this class so girls won’t think we are total idiots. When you approach a female you don’t just say “Can I have your phone number.”You should tell them a little about yourself. Try to make up a good topic to talk on.Be interested in what she likes and does. Always be confident and look your best. Girls like it when boys pay attention to them. The problem now is that boys are totally uncomfortable around girls.This class would help boys feel more confident.It will have lots of lessons that are hands-on that put boys in real-life situations talking to girls.Me, I have this stuff down pat. I just want to help some friends out. This class won’t require a lot. All you have to do is sign up for it and bring a few basic supplies, like a pencil and notebook. This class is open to all males.The class will require lots of reading and studying, but as I said, it also requires some participation. Boys will be able to practice by talking to a mannequin. In no time, you will be confident enough to go talk to the girl of your dreams.

  35. Example of Depth of Development in Score Point 4 I would like to recommend that we have a class for the boys. The name of this class is Talkin’ to Girls. This class will help prepare young men to be able to talk to females. The reason why we need this class is so that we can prepare the boys for all of the emotions they are going to experience. We really need this class so girls won’t think we are total idiots. When you approach a female you don’t just say “Can I have your phone number.”You should tell them a little about yourself. Try to make up a good topic to talk on.Ask what she likes to do out of school or work.Be interested in what she likes and does. Always ask if she wants your number. If we had this class boys would be eager to talk because they would know what to say. The problem now is that boys are totally uncomfortable around girls.When I am with my fiends and one of them spots a girl that we likes we all say, “I bet you won’t go over and talk to her.” That’s when I say in the back of my mind, “If only we were taught that in school.”This class would help boys be more comfortable around girls.Me, I have this stuff down pat. I just want to help some friends out. This class won’t require a lot. All you need is a notebook, and a pencil. All you have to do is sign up for it. This class is open to all males.The class will require lots of reading and studying.In the classroom there is a female mannequin that responds to any comment made by a male. If the male says something stupid, the dummy will say “get lost.”This class requires some participation. All you to do is work hard and you’ll do great. In no time, you will be confident enough to go talk to the girl of your dreams.

  36. Example of Depth of Development in Score Point 5 For most boys, it is pretty nerve-wracking to let a girl know that you like her. So, I was thinking, why not add a class called Talkin’ to Girls? It will help prepare young men for this important task. We really need this class so girls won’t think we are total idiots. When you approach a female you don’t just say “Can I have your phone number.”You should tell them a little about yourself. I always tell girls that I’m sensitive and a good listener. Also, try to make up a good topic to talk on.Ask her whether she watches shows like The Office. If she does, you can talk about how lame Michael Scott is around girls in his office. That will probably make for some laughter. Oh, and always ask if she wants your number. If we had this class boys would be eager to talk because they would know what to say. The problem now is that boys are totally uncomfortable around girls.When I am with my fiends and one of them spots a girl that he likes we all say, “I bet you won’t go over and talk to her.” That’s when I say in the back of my mind, “If only we were taught that in school.”This class would help boys be more comfortable around girls.Me, I have this stuff down pat. I just want to help some friends out. This class won’t require a lot. All you need is a notebook, and a pencil. All you have to do is sign up for it. This class is open to all males.The class will require lots of reading and studying and there will be hands on activities.In the classroom there is a female mannequin that responds to any comment made by a male. If the male says something stupid, the dummy will say “get lost.”Or, if you have bad breath, the mannequin's face will turn green and she’ll fall down. Yikes!This class requires some participation. Everyone will get a change to talk to the mannequin at least once a week, on a variety of topics, like sports, movies, and Facebook. In no time, boys will be confident enough to go talk to the girl of their dreams. Then, I can assure you that your students will freer and happier.

  37. Example of Depth of Developmentin a Paragraph Sample Body Paragraph Convergent boundaries are where plates move toward each other. It makes the stress compression. It is like squeezing your face together. Land forms are also created. When two continental plates collide, mountain ranges form. When an oceanic plate dives under a continental plate, subduction takes place. Geological events occur when tectonic plates move because of convection currents. Controlling Idea: Supporting Idea Major Detail Specific Details and Elaboration

  38. Example of Depth of Developmentin Score Point 1 Plat Tachtonics is when the Earthe moves because of plats. When the plats move we shake Like a earthquake when a earthqak happens the Earth moves. Convection currents move tectonic plats because it spins in that is how convection corrents move Tectonic plates. Covergent boundarys are a sort of movment in the Earth. Convergent Boundarys could mak mountions. Divergent Boundarys make tranches like underwater. Tranfsorm Boundary is a EarthQuak. Earthquak moves the ground. Like shaking it so we would move to. The plate tactonics was fun to tell you about it but I have to Development is relevant but it is very limited. What to say to this student? More detail related to convection currents and the movement of tectonic plates.

  39. Example of Depth of Development in Score Point 3 Our Earth is amazing, it can function all on its own without any help. Earth moves, cracks, and changes all by itself. Earth also has 6 layers that make it up. Each layer is unique in its own way. The Lithosphere is one of the most important, it carries the tectonic plates. This causes major changes on the Earth. Convection currents move the tectonic plates, the currents occur in the Asthenosphere. The heat and pressure in the Asthenosphere cause the currents to slowly move. Just above the currents is the plates, and the motion from the convection causes the plates to slowly move. They will only move a few inches a year. The tectonic plates pull apart and crash together at plate boundaries, causing major geologic events. At plate boundaries the movement can cause three major types of boundaries, transform, divergent, and convergent. At a divergent boundary the two plates move apart. This can cause a rift valley or an Earthquake. At convergent boundaries the two plates collide. At a transform boundary the two plates slip past each other. The convection currents cause the plates to move. Therefore that causes many major geologic events to occur on the Earth. This is how landforms come about and why the Earth is cracked. These geological events are always occurring. They might be slow but they really do happen. This is how plate movement causes change on Earth’s surface. The student responds to both aspects of the prompt with quite a bit of major detail development. The response could definitely be more thorough, but the student makes a sufficient connection between convection currents and the movement of tectonic plates.

  40. Example of Depth of Development in Score Point 5 If you did not know, there are many interesting things about the Earth’s tectonic plates. In the theory of plate tectonics, the Earth’s lithosphere is broken into plates that are in constant motion, driven by convection currents in the asthenosphere. The asthenosphere is the soft layer on which the lithosphere, a rigid layer, floats. Convection currents move the lithospheric plates. Heat from the Earth’s core causes particles to get less dense and therefore rise. Since the asthenosphere is soft and flexible, convection currents are able to form. The convection currents then move the lithospheric plates which are above it. The movement creates three different boundaries. Convergent boundaries are where plates move toward each other. It makes the stress compression. It is like squeezing your face together. This also forms a reverse fault. A reverse fault is where the hanging wall is upward. Land forms are also created. When two continental plates collide, mountain ranges form. When an oceanic plate dives under a continental plate, subduction takes place. Subduction also forms trenches.Subduction makes oceans smaller, like the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes in the process a trench swallows a lot of the ocean, and that is what is happening with the Pacific, whereas the Atlantic is growing. Another boundary is the divergent boundary. It is where plates move away from each other. Its stress is tension. The fault this forms is called a normal fault, where the footwall is higher. This boundary also creates landforms. A rift valley forms where two plates diverge from each other. An example of a divergent boundary landform is the mid-ocean ridge. It is the longest mountain chain in the world. The last boundary is the transform boundary. It is when plates move in opposite directions. Its stress is called shearing. The fault this creates is called a strike-slip fault. Again, this is where plates move in opposite directions. An earthquake forms when the stress on a fault gets so intense that it snaps. This is yet another landform that can be created due to tectonic plates and more specifically in that category, stress. You might not have thought about that tectonic plates and the boundaries, stresses, and faults they form are interesting, but I hope that now you see that they are very cool. Heavy reliance on specific details and the writer goes into great detail when discussing all three boundaries. Well done!

  41. The Components of Organization Organization: The degree to which a writer’s ideas are arranged in a clear order and the overall structure of the response is consistent with the assigned genre.

  42. Introduction-Body-Conclusion Introduction: Sets the stage for the development of the writer’s ideas and is consistent with the informational purpose of the paper. Body: The details and examples that support the writer’s focus Conclusion: Signals the reader that the paper is coming to a close

  43. Grouping of Ideas In order to effectively group ideas in a piece of writing, the writer must first understand the logical relationships between the ideas that support the controlling idea. Grouping ideas within paragraphs is not the same as formatting paragraphs. Grouping involves the logical presentation of ideas rather than simply indenting to indicate the beginning of a paragraph. Even if a writer fails to correctly format paragraphs, ideas may still be grouped logically.

  44. Ideas Grouped Logically We also use technology to communicate. We already know the basics of emailing and using the internet, but we need more information. We need to learn more about what these tools can do for us. I’m sure that these lessons could help us communicate even more efficiently. Wouldn’t that be great?

  45. Related Ideas Grouped Convergent boundaries are where plates move toward each other. It makes the stress compression. It is like squeezing your face together. This also forms a reverse fault. A reverse fault is where the hanging wall is upward. Land forms are also created. When two continental plates collide, mountain ranges form. When an oceanic plate dives under a continental plate, subduction takes place. Subduction also forms trenches. Subduction makes oceans smaller, like the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes in the process a trench swallows a lot of the ocean, and that is what is happening with the Pacific, whereas the Atlantic is growing. (all details relate to convergent boundaries)

  46. Sequencing of Ideas Sequencing: The way the writer orders the ideas of the paper to implement the overall plan. Clear sequencing helps the reader understand the writer’s ideas. Effective sequencing: Ideas build logically on one another and lead the reader through the paper. Ineffective sequencing: The ideas may have little relationship to one another and could be presented in any order.

  47. Effective Sequencing My father builds things all the time.  He teaches me how to build things whenever he can, but I think it would also be a good thing if we had a class that taught us how to build things.  Working with our hands could be fun and rewarding.  Plus, when we help other people on building projects, we could know what we’re doing.

  48. Effective Sequencing Its stress is called shearing.  The fault this creates is called a strike-slip fault.  This is where plates move in opposite directions.  An earthquake forms when the stress on a fault gets so intense that it snaps.  This is yet another landform that can be created due to tectonic plates and more specifically in that category, stress.

  49. TransitionsMaking Connections Between Ideas Transitions lead the reader through the paper by linking parts of the paper and ideas within paragraphs. Transitions are used between sentences, between paragraphs, and within sentences and within paragraphs Transitions can signal the type of relationships between ideas May be explicit or implicit May be a single word, a pronoun, a phrase, or a logical linking of ideas Explicit transitional words: for instance, consequently Implicit transitional devices: synonym and pronoun substitution, moving from general to specific or from specific to general

  50. Transitions in Action Many students in this school have mind-blowing talents and abilities that have yet to be discovered. Not all kids excel in athletics or academics,however. Some students are gifted in expressing themselves through acting, dancing, and singing.That’s where a drama class comes in. Itwill encouragethemto peer out from the shell they’ve been hiding under and set their feelings, thoughts, and emotions free.