Today, we began the Practice Georgia Writing Assessment. This will give us a score, so we can target writing weaknesses before our January (actual) writing assessment. We’ll mail these off where they’ll be scored by the same people who score the actual GWA.
If you want to support writing at home, here are a few things to consider:
■”Test Writing” is different from “Real Life Writing.” A student mentioned in class today that writing to a prompt doesn’t feel natural. No. It doesn’t. There is a debate in The Land of Writing Experts about this. Some believe that giving students free reign with the topic is more real-life and gives them a greater investment in their writing. Others believe that all writing has parameters, and giving students parameters helps us measure more about their writing process than giving them carte blanche would. The bottom line: High-stakes tests will probably always start with a prompt, so students need practice handling them well.
■Writing is a reflection of thinking. If you read a student’s writing, you are getting an actual peek into his/her mind. Studies have shown a direct correlation between IQ and writing scores. This means, if you want to know how you (students) or your son or daughter (parents) are thinking, consider starting a back-and-forth journal. You write about your day, leave it on the coffee table, and they can respond. This might help you stay connected during Crazy Adolescence (“My parents/kids just don’t understand me!”), and more practice writing–noticing when their communications are/aren’t effective–will help improve writing.
■Reading is not “just” reading, it’s crucial. Would you try to repair a car engine without first watching a master repair person do it? I wouldn’t. Published writers are (usually) writing masters. When students read, not only are they broadening their worlds, they’re peeking into the workshops of master writers. The writers they pick influence their thoughts, experiences, beliefs . . . and especially their writing. Please do not buy into the idea that reading is JUST reading. Reading is THE most valuable educational activity your child can practice. Encourage it. Require it. Make time for it. Partner with your children in picking books. Read together.
Press on, All!