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Our School’s Writing Assessment For Some Students With Special Needs

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I’ve shared many writing prompts that I use in my classes (see My Best Posts On Writing Instruction).

Included in that “Best” list is a very popular post by my colleague and English Department leader Lara Hoekstra. In it, she describes a pretty sophisticated fall and spring writing assessment process we use with all of the students at our school. Students spend two days writing to the same prompt early in the year and at the end of the year, and all the English teachers get together for two days after each assessment to evaluate all the essays (ones not written by their own students) using an “Improvement Rubric.” We then use the results to guide our future instructional priorities.

We’ve had a modified assessment for English Language Learners and, just recently, my very talented colleagues Jennifer Adkins and Jonathan Mikles created a good one for some students with special needs. They have given me permission to share it here.

They have students read the Chicago Tribune article titled, Inner-city Mentoring Program Helping Youths Improve Lives.

Students then write to this prompt:

Essay Topic:

A role model or mentor is a person you look up to. Before you begin writing, think about someone you look up to.

Why do you admire or respect this person? Write at least a 3 paragraph essay in which you explain whom you admire, and why you look up to this person. To develop your position, be sure to discuss specific examples; those examples can be drawn from anything you’ve read, as well as your experience.

Author: Larry Ferlazzo

I'm a high school teacher in Sacramento, CA.

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