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Teachers Network Leadership Institute:
Wyoming Teacher Policy Institute
Kathleen Crain, Wyoming Indian Elementary School, Ethete, WY


Problem  I began this research believing that my students would be better writers if they had the autonomy to develop their own writing rubrics (a leveled scoring guide that includes descriptive criteria for each hierarchical level of performance). By evaluating their own writing, they would strive to improve. Also, participating in the development of the assessment tool would ensure that students knew the expectations of a good writer. At the present time in our district, the writing rubrics are teacher-generated and not written in kid-friendly language. Even if the teachers go over the rubric with the students, they are still unsure of what is expected of them and don’t feel ownership of the assessment process. Even though we are required to use this teacher-generated rubric, I decided to collaboratively develop rubrics with my students to see how or if their writing skills and awareness would improve. 
Research Question  Would student developed rubrics improve their writing skills and make them aware of what a good writer does?
Rubrics incorporated the six-traits of writing: organization, voice, sentence fluency, conventions, ideas and content and word choice. We began with a simple rubric and continued to revise it throughout the year as the students’ knowledge about writing increased. Students evaluate their own writings using the rubrics we co-developed. We had much more dialogue about writing throughout the day and integrated writing in other academic areas. My mini-lessons incorporated the Six-traits of writing, and the students have evaluated my writing and other writings using the rubrics they developed. All students developed writing portfolios. Students selected pieces of writing for their portfolios after informed reflection about them. Students used these portfolios in student-led parent conferences. I also had daily writing conferences with students. Throughout the project, I consulted with many helpful colleagues including my district’s curriculum director, other WTPI (Wyoming Teacher Policy Institute) Fellows, and the WTPI director and coordinator. Additionally, I reviewed a wide variety of pertinent research literature including academic journals, research reports, and current theories of best literacy practices. Frequently, I found myself referring to Donald Graves, A Fresh Look at Writing and also a book written by Charlotte Danielson and Pia Hansen, A Collection of Performance Tasks and Rubrics.Data sources included· Student-generated rubrics;· Student surveys about writing;· The sentence dictation and writing vocabulary assessments that are part of the D.R.A. (Direct Reading Assessment) assessment;· Interviews conducted by Allen Trent, assistant professor of education at the University of Wyoming;· Three writing assessments and authentic writing samples, given in the fall, winter and spring; and · Portfolios for each of my students that reflected their growth in writing from the beginning to the end of the year.
Findings § Improvement in writing assessment scores;
§ Marked improvement in students’ writing skills as reflected in authentic writing samples in their portfolios;
§ Growth in students’ writing vocabulary assessment in the D.R.A.; 
§ Improved scores in the writing dictation portion of the D.R.A.; and
§ Students’ dialogue about writing showed awareness of what makes a good writer.
Policy Recommendations § Mandatory daily writing in every classroom K-5;
§ Professional staff development on the writing of rubrics;
§ The use of student-generated rubrics in all classrooms to assess writing on a regular basis;
§ The integration of writing throughout the curriculum.
§ The development of a lesson study approach to critique and improve lessons on the instruction of writing and assessment of writing; and
§ Possibly tracking the students in the study to see if their performance will improve in the writing section of the standardized tests administered in Third Grade.

E-mail Kathleen


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