July 2nd, 2009
Mark Overmeyer just wrapped up a four-stop blog tour for his new book, What Student Writing Teaches Us: Formative Assessment in the Writing Workshop.
On the first stop of the tour on the Creative Literacy blog, hosted by Katie DiCesare, Mark talked about how not being an expert on assessment helped him get a fresh perspective on the topic as he wrote the book: “As I mention in my book, I do not take the stance of any kind of expert, but more just a teacher who has a lot of questions about what works for teachers and students in real writing classrooms. I spent two years listening to students talk about their writing processes and teachers talking about their assessment practices. If I had felt like an ‘expert’, I do not know if I would have looked and listened in the same way. I learned so much, and I hope the best of what I learned is presented is practical and helpful.”
Sarah Mulhern, host of The Reading Zone, posted a question from one of her readers about how to manage writing assessment with a large group of students. “My first piece of advice is to carefully plan your instruction with some built in places for you to read short samples of student work for very specific purposes,” advises Mark, then he sketches out a suggested framework through a unit of study to demonstrate his answer.
On the blog Teaching That Sticks, hosted by Keith Schoch, one of the questions Mark tackled was how to stir students away from “write what you know” towards less “egocentric” writing. “My advice if you are working with fourth graders through high school is to NOT begin the year with personal narratives. Try out a completely different genre — maybe begin the year with personal essay or commentary. In my experience for the last five years, new genres bring out new topics, and new excitement.”
Over at Two Writing Teachers, hosted by Ruth Ayres and Stacey Shubitz, Mark answered a question about grades and missing assignments. “Most of my missing assignment issues came with homework,” writes Mark. “Some years, I literally spent hours each week tracking down students who did not turn in homework, calling parents (most of these years were in the ‘dark ages’ before e mail), keeping students in at lunch or after school, and determining fair percentages to dock students if their assignments were not turned in on time.” He then shares five tips for making grading and assignments less painful for both students and teachers.
Mark’s book is now in our warehouse and available for purchase! Stop by these great blogs to find out more about it, ask questions, and join the discussions!