Coursework in english

Perhaps some student reflection and self-assess- ment are necessary when using this method as well, but the time frame is much shorter, usually just a few weeks for each writing assignment, before the class moves on to the next one. The port- folio process, at least in my classes, requires a yearlong time frame, which allows for student writers to grow and their writings to -275 - TEACHER RESPONSE AND ASSESSMENT develop. These writings begin for my students in writing projects that last anywhere from a few weeks to an entire year, in some cases. A portfolio in my ninth-grade classes has the opportunity to grow over the entire academic year, the writing on any indi- vidual selection never truly being finished until the final portfo- lio is handed in at the end of the year. Instead of assessing a single piece of writing, say a poem or an essay, a student compiling a portfolio of her or his writing has the opportunity to reflect over multiple writing pieces in various forms to different audiences and for various purposes. The portfolio also works very well for the particular students I teach, most of whom are working class, will be the first in their families to attend college, and have rarely been encouraged to make connections between education and an improved life. In 1975, North Bullitt High School opened its doors to about 1,000 white students who moved across the Jefferson and Bullitt County line so they would not have to attend schools in Jefferson County outside of their white neighborhoods and not have to go to school with increasing num- bers of African American children. This cycle is hard to break, and I have had more luck helping students work individually from their notebooks toward finished pieces of writing than from mass-assigned topics.

This makes the teaching of writing a difficult -276 - Why Use Portfolios?

I keep reminding myself to present writing as positively as possible so that students can see how it can improve the quality of their lives in ways that may or not be connected with getting a good job down the road. So although the portfolio is required by the state for se- niors and by my school for the other grades, my approach allows me to reach my students and help them see the value of writing. Please bear in mind, however, that neither Yancey nor I see this model as a linear process but as a recursive one, not unlike the writing process. Collecting the Writing During the first week of school, I pass out brand-new manila folders to all of my students and ask them to leave the inside of both covers blank. They are free to decorate the outside anyway they wish as long as it is appropriate for an academic community and has their name written legibly on the top.

The coursework coursework in english in english inside covers are reserved for two things: writing criteria and possible topics to cover during the year. By the end of the first week of school, students have papers in these folders, usually prewriting lists, clusters, wordpools, or observational sketches.

These fold- ers are kept in a filing cabinet from which students can pull them as needed. At the end of each grading period (six weeks in our situation), students pull these folders and use their contents to construct a portfolio.

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Each six weeks the requirements for the portfolio get a little more demanding since students should have more writing from which to select and since their writing skills should be improving with practice. Students are given a list of - 277 - TEACHER RESPONSE AND ASSESSMENT requirements based on what we have been writing, studying, and practicing during our writing workshop (see the appendix). This approach does several things: ( 1 ) it allows students more time to develop quality writing, (2) it allows them to apply the criteria we have been learning as we read and write in different genres, and (3) it allows students to see their own level of achievement, and it reinforces the writing process. By the end of the first se- mester, students typically have collected 60-100 pages of writ- ing.

Some of this writing undergoes substantial revision as students continue to work on favorite writings throughout the semester and the year, by the end ofwhich they often have accumulated 120-200 pages of writing in the working folder.

Selecting the Writing for the Portfolio The selection process begins early in the year, as well. Sometime during the first couple of weeks of school, after we have read and discussed several essays, a few poems, and a story or two, I ask students to go home and write down a list of what they think good writing should exhibit or do. The next day students bring in their lists, and someone in class writes down their ideas on the chalkboard. Some are listed more than once and duly noted on the board. Once the standards are agreed on, we recopy them on poster board and post them in a prominent place in the room. Students also write them inside their notebooks so they have access to them at all times.

These criteria are important in the portfolio process because the qualities of effective writing that students generate are used throughout the year for self-assessment. Every six weeks I target specific criteria for minilesson topics in our workshop. In this way, assessment and learning go hand in hand, and the assessment has come from the inside instead of the outside. Students are more likely to accept the necessity of writing well when they have played a vital role in determining how high the bar is going to be set and what it is going to be made of. As a matter of fact, as the year progresses we revisit the criteria coursework in english and reflect on their continued viability within our community. Usually, the criteria are strength- ened as a result of our ongoing reading, writing, and discussing of various professional and student texts. When the criteria are revised, they are changed on the posters, in the folders, coursework in english and in my lesson plans. The students come to see the value of reflection and revision if the changes really occur. While I could rely solely on the writing criteria set by the Kentucky Writing Program, I find that my students benefit from being involved in developing, discussing, and assessing their own criteria. Also, while the state standards are valid to a large de- gree, they do not take into account particular teaching contexts. I teach in the same school and the same room every year, but the students change every year and every period of the day within a year.

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