Saturday, September 6, 2014

Assessing Writing: The Diagnostic Essay

When teaching writing you really never know what you're going to get.  This is true at any level!

Depending on a student's background and his or her general aptitude for the subject you can have many different levels of capability within your classroom.  So how can a teacher figure out what to tackle first?  Do you tackle specific grammar issues?  Organization?  Responding to a prompt?

I like to have my students write a diagnostic essay the first day or two of class.  This is an ungraded assignment that they complete in class.  This way I know it is truly what they know and not what their parents, sibling, or friend knows.  I keep the prompts generic- and typically have my students respond to a famous quote.

I don't include a length requirement but do use the term "essay."  It is always interesting to me to see how much a student chooses to write.  I find these essays quite informative.

For teachers in the 7-12 realm, you may want to be able to follow up for data purposes and give a similar prompt around winter break and another at the end of the year.

Would you be interested in a ready made set of 5 diagnostic essay prompts with lined paper?  I created a set on Teachers Pay Teachers- with 5 prompts you can choose to give multiple ones to one class, use different ones different times during the year, or give each class period a different one (I know reading the same thing over and over can get boring!).  It's really a steal and can be printed or projected easily!  I also provided a checklist that can be used for simple scoring.

Thanks for Reading!

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