Designing Effective Writing Assignments


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A short slideset for a presentation about how to design effective writing assignments, especially for larger classes.

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Designing Effective Writing Assignments

  1. 1. Designing Effective Writing Assignments Jim Burke Burlingame High School
  2. 2. Guiding Principles <ul><li>Make clear purpose and requirements of the writing assignment. </li></ul><ul><li>Make the assignment meaningful and challenging. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider an assignment within the larger context of your curriculum. </li></ul><ul><li>Align the assignment with your state and district standards. </li></ul><ul><li>Establish and convey clearly the criteria for success on an assignment. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Clarify the Purpose <ul><li>Determine and clearly state the purpose of the assignment </li></ul><ul><li>Specify the requirements </li></ul><ul><li>Identify relevant standards </li></ul><ul><li>Discuss the assignment: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Expectations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Options </li></ul></ul>Note the verbs
  4. 4. Clarify Expectations: Model <ul><li>Provide examples </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstrate </li></ul><ul><li>Demystify: Show them what you want </li></ul><ul><li>Write with them or do the assignment yourself </li></ul><ul><li>Model every step, every aspect—for all students, at all levels </li></ul>
  5. 5. Make It Meaningful & Challenging <ul><li>Connect the assignment to students’ lives and interests </li></ul><ul><li>Create authentic opportunities to write </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporate new skills they can learn in the context of the assignment </li></ul>
  6. 6. Place It Within the Larger Context of Your Curriculum <ul><li>Consider the cognitive demands of each assignment (what are the tasks, the verbs?) </li></ul><ul><li>Arrange steps of the assignment in order of difficulty </li></ul><ul><li>Embed within each assignment the skills and knowledge your students need </li></ul><ul><li>Integrate reading, writing, speaking, and language study </li></ul>
  7. 7. Align Assignments to Your Standards <ul><li>Consult the state and/or district standards </li></ul><ul><li>Use the academic language appropriate to these standards to ensure students learn it </li></ul><ul><li>Integrate standards into your assessment criteria </li></ul>
  8. 8. Convey Criteria for Success <ul><li>Clearly list the criteria for success on the handout </li></ul><ul><li>Provide examples (from textbook, past students, yourself) to illustrate </li></ul><ul><li>Revisit the criteria throughout the composing process </li></ul><ul><li>Provide support to help all students meet the criteria </li></ul>
  9. 9. “ Most Dangerous (Video) Game” Proposal
  10. 10. Perseverance <ul><li>Every challenge makes you want to give up, to quit. You wonder how you will ever get through this trial, which is why perseverance is so essential to survival. It means not giving up in the face of obstacles. Cameron Clapp embodies the idea of perseverance: Though he lost his legs and one arm, he worked through the pain and disappointment to become a successful athlete and now attends college. In “Plainswoman,” Nora loses her family but endures her sorrow, making a new life for herself through perseverance and courage. </li></ul>Photo Essay Assignment
  11. 11. “ Brother’s Keeper” Blog Assignment
  12. 13.