Looking for ways to get to know your students while having them
do authentic writing that builds on works you’ve read?
Here are three ideas to consider that can serve as a beginning of the year formative assessments of reading and writing. No need to grade for anything other than completing on time with required minimum contents. You can determine which Common Core State Standards for ELA this year’s students already meet and then immediately use that information design lessons based on what they already know and are able to do.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?– After reading a couple of short stories, invite students to write about a character from one story, or one from each, as though they were guests for dinner. Could be used as summer reading check-up with any grade 6-12.
What Award Will you Receive? – A great way to get students to think about the value of education, experience, and reputation is to invite them to write about an award they will receive in 25 years. Works really well with 8th and 10th graders.
Living with a Name? – An engaging assignment that invites students to read a couple of literary works about names and then to write about their own. If you have strong readers or time to read the essay with them, I recommend Ralph W. Ellison’s essay along with the very popular “My Name” from Sandra Cisneros’ memoir House on Mango Street. One of my favorites for starting the year with Freshmen. Can be an effective prep for seniors writing college application personal statements,too.
Create customized rubrics that address just one trait that you will have taught, then free the students to write on one of the topics you’ve adapted. Keep the weight of the assignment low so students are not afraid to do their own work. See MANAGING GRADES.