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Intro Writing Prompt

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									Introductory Writing Prompt


        As I read over the directions for this writing-to-learn activity, I realize that I
have to tweak my response slightly based on the actual writing prompt and
assignment that I gave. I gave this prompt as an informal “getting-to –know-you”
type of assignment. As I introduced the prompt to students, I tried to take pressure
off of the assignment by noting to the students that these would be ungraded and
simply for the purpose of introducing yourself to me. I wanted them to know I was
placing more emphasis on content versus conventions.

        Because of how I prefaced the prompt, I really can only discern three piles –
those who answered the prompt questions with great focus, and those started
answering the prompt and then trailed to something entirely different, and then
those who didn’t even attempt at answering a question. If I had these as my own
students, I might have those students who didn’t answer the question at all re-write.
Of the twenty two students - 6 answered the prompt with great focus, 12 answered
with some focus, and 4 didn’t answer any part of the prompt.

Great Focus: These papers clearly answered the three possible questions that I
gave and maintained a tie to the question throughout their response. I could connect
their answers and examples to one another easily. Though conventions of these
papers varied greatly – some wrote grammatically sound pieces, some did not,
because I stressed content and connection to the prompts, if focus was evident, I
considered it a quality response.

Some Focus: This stack of papers differed from the first in the holistic tie of the
paper back to the question. Though the students would receive credit in the same
fashion that the paper with “great focus” did, they are definitely a tier below in
content. For example, one prompt asked students to talk about their goals and
ambitions. I have a paper that had two sentences about “getting good grades and
making it to college,” but then it trailed into talking about “a family vacation.” I
wonder if they had more time they would have connected that back to a goal, but
without that connection, I wondered about it’s placement and tie to the whole. After
answering the question “what is your favorite Dr. Seuss book and why?” I had one
student answer with a sentence and then proceed to change directions entirely and
introduce every aspect of her life.

No evidence of answering the prompt: These papers were basically introductions
of sorts that had no evidence that they had read the assignment guidelines. I wonder
if because I stressed that the point of the assignment was for me to get to know
them, that they figured an introductory letter was best.

       Placing the papers into stacks was relatively easy for me in that my writing
assignment and guidelines had few stipulations. I asked for content and could easily
read and see if the student answered the question or any part of it. Had I required
more of the prompt, it would have been much more challenging!
       Across the board, the spelling and grammatical choices of the students were
pretty poor. Also, students use a lot of informal “texting” language which I’m sure
Introductory Writing Prompt


will play a significant factor into my classroom in the future. Overall, I notice a
tendency in myself to grade and value content over conventions – though, I
recognize each has its place. Just like the final exam, this was a very valuable
process!

								
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