How This Teacher Used Formative Feedback to Improve Students’ Technical Writing Skills

This is a post from Craig Hanson, a science and math teacher from Leonard Middle School.

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) outline rigorous standards and practices for our students. In today’s science classrooms we are asked to support not just the content but also what it means to be a scientist or an engineer. What it means to be a scientist is quantified by the Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS. As such, the pedagogy of science teaching has changed and we are asking students to synthesize information into explanations, design solutions, and arguments. All of this work requires not only a deep understanding of the science content but also a grasp of technical writing skills. There is only so much time in the year, and students rarely come into my classroom with strong technical writing skills.

This poses a major problem for me and for my students - there is not enough time in the year to teach the science concepts and the skills involved in technical writing and communicating clearly in science. This is where The Graide Network can really help.
— Craig Hanson

 

At the beginning of the year, I look at each unit that requires a technical writing piece. These pieces of writing may be formative or summative assessments, but they follow the same process. Once I have identified the writing components of the units, I then decide how I will scaffold and support the work in my classroom and where The Graide Network can provide some assistance and time savings. The work typically follows a progression where experimentation/investigation, data collection and analysis, and draft writing are supported and completed in my classroom. The draft writing process may include a peer review process if time permits, but this is the first element to be cut if time is short. Once the draft writing is completed, students turn in a digital copy using Google Classroom. This work is immediately sent to The Graide Network for scoring and detailed, constructive feedback.

"When the score reports are returned I print them and hand them back to students either attached to their printed work or as the stand-alone individual score report."

"When the score reports are returned I print them and hand them back to students either attached to their printed work or as the stand-alone individual score report."

I believe the best way to return the feedback to students is with the individual score report attached to their actual work. When students get their work back with the feedback, they can then mark up their draft using the guidance from the individualized feedback from The Graide Network.

Students make edits and submit a final draft to me for a final scoring (and no feedback other than a scored rubric). The final draft revisions can be accomplished during class or outside of class depending on time. I get the best results from students when I hand back the scored work with feedback and give students an opportunity to act on that feedback immediately.

 
Craig Hanson, 8th Grade Science and Math Leonard Middle School  

Craig Hanson, 8th Grade Science and Math

Leonard Middle School