Some students are under the impression that completion of their Master Plan signals the end of writing. No… Remember, Master Plans (with the labels which compose it) become the actual History Fair project. It will take 3 or 4 iterations to get these plans right. This is a process mindset than many 7th graders simply haven’t developed yet. As a result, there are some false assumptions about being “done.” Every plan will undergo revisions and changes.
Peer Feedback is a crucial component of improving our writing skills. Our ELA teachers are working on this with students at the same time, and we’ve begun to see writing improve. We use the rubric below to identify three central skills right now:
- Topic Sentence to establish purpose/claim in each label.
- Evidence which coherently supports that claim.
- Analysis to explain WHY this information matters.
Our ELA teachers created the rubric, and I added a few open-ended questions to allow students to create dialogue. This has been incredibly beneficial for students starting conversations about their writing. Kids are tracking down their evaluators (often from other classes) and getting explanations about what they saw. Beyond being effective, peer revisions have students excited to write. Many kids seek additional feedback when they realize what they’ve gotten isn’t enough. Others look to read and leave feedback when they have time. Despite some ugly first drafts, their enthusiasm to improve their writing skills has been impressive.
Most students have received feedback from me, 3-4 peers, and are currently making revisions. I will read and leave feedback for all 70 projects over the weekend. All students should now be at 10-12 labels. Very few exceptions to that rule.
Many of our parents are helping walk your students through this process. I appreciate that! Writing and synthesizing all of this is a difficult process for students, and their guidance is incredibly valuable. No student can do this alone; some support, encouragement, or clarification might be necessary on what amounts to a 3-page essay.