Friday, December 10, 2004

Doug Reeves & Nonfiction Writing

On Thursday I had the pleasure of seeing Doug Reeves speak (yes, back-to-back professional development days). Reeves is an instructor at Harvard Graduate School of Education and founder of the Center for Performance Assessment. His talk was titled Accountability for Learning: How Teachers and School Leaders Can Take Charge. A complete summary is unnecessary here--it was one important point that he made that is pertinent to the world of technology and education.

Part of the way through the talk, Reeves described ten strategies for improving student learning. These included the usuals like making time for teacher collaboration, creating common assessments, & increasing time for instruction. But it was strategy number 9 that caught and held my attention, and validated the work of educational bloggers everywhere.

Frequent nonficition writing assessment influences student achievement.
When I heard this, my mind immediately went to blogs. You see, ever since I began teaching, my district has stressed the importance of writing extended response paragraphs in the academic classes (and sometimes even nonacademic electives) to improve test scores. As with everything else having to do with school, I'm sure our students hate this. But do they have to? Instead of handing them a pencil and a sheet of notebook paper, why can't we give them a laptop and have them write the paragraphs on their own personal blogs? Start at the beginning of the year, after the Summer dumbdown, and give the students a chance to watch their writing grow over the course of a year. Goodness, I hate to say it, but I wish I had been doing this the entire year.
I hope when the assessment guy in my district reads this (I'm emailing it to him), he forwards it on to the powers that be so that we don't continue to force our kids to do work that they are not motivated to do. Let's motivate them with the power of blogs!

No comments: