Common Writing Assessment

When I go back to school in the fall, one of the problems I have to face is how to get my department to decide on how to teach and assess writing.  It’s a big problem.

We’re more or less split on two concepts:  Concept #1: Teach grammar and use that grammar to improve writing.  “How can a mechanic fix an engine if he doesn’t know what the parts are called?”  Focus on learning the names of the parts of the sentences and paragraphs. Improve writing this way.Concept #2: Drafting.  Write and rewrite.  Edit and revise.  Accept no single draft writings.

Many of my department are somewhere in the middle on this.  The problem is trying to come to any sort of common agreement on common things.  Not just assessment.  What is important?  What should every student who comes through our building learn?  After we decide that, how can we decide upon a common strategy to determine that all students have been taught the same, or given the same writing tools?

Sure, you’ll say a rubric.  I’m not sure that’s really always the best plan.  I’ve found that our rubrics either are too specific and no one likes them, or they are so generic that they don’t really make our standards common at all.  I’m not really sure how they work with the idea of editing and redrafting, either.  Plus, it doesn’t really solve our debate about grammar.

Obviously, I have my own opinions, but so do the rest of my department.  How can we come to agreement on that?

I am the language lover and these are my thoughts.

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