Somehow, Naughty by Nature has been dominating my mind lately. Last night, on the bus ride, we were trying to write an email and all I could do was name their songs. I'm not sure what this means, but I just wanted to share. Speaking of sharing, my amazing ELA coach asked me to write a paragraph about how our DYO assessments are impacting my classroom and instructional decisions. I'm happy to report that I can actually use the data to support the effectiveness of a strategy that I taught them.
Upon looking at my mid-year DYO results, I was immediately excited about the progress that my students had made in the organization dimension of our writing rubric. After my fall DYO, I had determined that my 9th graders needed assistance with structuring a paragraph -- as all they could tell me about a paragraph was that it was 5-7 sentences. This led to essays that were very disorganized. They met the paragraph length, but with disjointed sentences that didn't connect. What about the fact that a paragraph should be focused on a unifying idea? All pertaining to or proving one topic or point of view? Instead of focusing on the length of a paragraph, I decided to teach about the specific information that should be included in a well-developed paragraph. I used the strategy of teaching Topic-Support-Detail sentences to help students write more organized paragraphs, and we practiced recognizing these kinds of sentences in different genres of texts; then, we practiced writing TSD paragraphs in various contexts (for HW assignments, free-writes and also on unit tests/assessments). In the 9th grade growth report (pg 12 of my Cycle 2 report), I saw that students' biggest progress was in organization -- overall they improved from a grade-wide average of 2.5 to 2.8 in this area. What is most interesting about the data is that there was lots of movement from level 2 (approaching expectations) to level 3 (meeting expectations). 57 students were meeting expectations in Cycle 1, while 25 were approaching. In Cycle 2 there were 53 meeting and only 12 approaching, even though 25 fewer students took the assessment... comparing student to self (1st to 2nd DYO cycle), there was overall growth in both meaning and development. I interpret this data to mean that there has been an upward trend of students writing more well-organized essays. I attribute this to the direct instruction of a strategy that helped them with the skill of organizing a paragraph in a new way, and actually understanding the kind of information that should be in each paragraph. This is one way that I have utilized the data from my DYO assessments to inform my instructional decisions.
All I wanted to point out is that I used the same structure for this paragraph (though it's realllllly long) that I taught the kids. I've found that modeling my expectations by writing all of the assignments my students do is so incredibly helpful. Seriously. Probably the biggest lesson of this year.