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Allie Lizotte

Assessment Project
An overarching objective for the eleventh grade English curriculum is for students to be
able to identify how authors use language to convey meaning. Furthermore, they must develop
the skills to be able to write about these various elements of language. Each students ability to
achieve these goals will be assessed in both the department wide writing samples and in potential
SAT situations. The poetry unit provides the perfect opportunity to hone in on these skills, as
analyzing poetry, by nature, requires one to pay specific attention to the literary devices within
the poem in order to understand the overall theme or message. I therefore designed this unit to
include opportunities for students to demonstrate their understanding of language through
writing. I would analyze the foundation of their knowledge of how to write analytically about
language by giving them a practice writing prompt on a poem we studied early on in the unit.
After assessing these initial responses, I would be able to identify the individual strengths and
weaknesses of the students and plan a follow up lesson accordingly. The writing component of
the final poetry test identical to the practice prompt except for the poem students were asked to
analyze would serve as a final assessment and allow me to determine if students improved in
their writing skills over the course of this unit.
Upon reviewing students initial responses to the writing prompt, I was able to identify
several areas of improvement that I could focus on in a follow up lesson in order to improve their
overall ability to express their poetry analysis in writing. According to the 4 point rubric scale
these writings were being assessed by, all students scored within a range of 2 to 3.5, with the
majority of students scoring either a 2 or 3. In the case of this assessment, any half score would
indicate a response that bordered between two scores. For instance, a score of 2.5 would show
that a student was well on his or her way to a 3, but needed to make some improvements to

justify moving out of the 2 category.1 Overall, the class average score was a 2.5. The common
errors that I noticed in students responses corresponded with similar mistakes I had noticed in
their last essay. In general, they struggled with clearly identifying the language and theme in
their thesis or claim, incorporating the language of the poem into their own writing through
correctly integrated quotes, and/or fully explaining the significance of the examples of language
they highlighted, rather than merely summarizing the poem.
Upon identifying these mistakes and realizing the need for a follow-up lesson before students
would write about a poem again on their final assessment, I planned to provide individual
feedback both in written and oral form. I began by marking up each writing practice with
comments and corrections related to content as well as general writing conventions. I also
included a summarizing comment at the end, pointing out a strength of the students work and an
area where he or she should focus on making improvements. I used these areas of improvement
to group students according to the general weaknesses described above. Then, during a class
where students were independently working, I was able to pull these groups aside and speak to
students about the area they needed to focus on the most, as well as provide clarification for any
written comments they might want explained further. Working in this small group setting also
allowed me to share examples from group members essays highlighting their strengths that
another student may want to emulate. Furthermore, I was able to encourage those students with
fewer questions to rewrite a particular sentence focusing on correcting the area we had discussed.
This method allowed me to multi-task helping them practice their skills while being more
attentive to those students who needed further explanation about their specific concerns. Once I
had met with all students in these small groups, I felt confident that they understood some of
1 Students are familiar with such a scale. A similar version is used on the
department wide writing samples that they take each year in their English classes.

their common errors and would be able to begin planning how to avoid similar mistakes the
second time they were asked to complete this assignment.
As the time drew near for students to take their final poetry writing assessment, I also did
more to scaffold the writing process by providing them with materials to help them prepare
ahead of time. For example, I created a graphic organizer that asked students to clearly state their
claim, evidence from the poem, the significance of this evidence, and a general concluding
statement that extended their thoughts further. This organizer allowed them to take their notes
from the annotated copy of the poem and start planning how they would shape these ideas into a
pointed written response. I modeled a partially complete organizer for a different poem and
provided those students with IEPs with this additional support as well. Finally, before students
set to taking their final assessment, I gave back their practice responses with my comments and
provided them with a reminder sticky note of areas to focus on as they were writing. Students
were allowed to keep this sticky note and organizer with them when they tested.
When students took their final assessment and were asked to write about how a poet uses
language to convey a message or theme for a second time, I saw an improvement in the class
score overall. Based on the same 4 point rubric, the class average improved from a 2.5 to a 3,
with scores ranging from 2 to 4. Only five students of the nineteen assessed did not improve their
scores. Three students even managed to move into the category of a 4. All but two students
clearly stated the theme of the poem, and all made at least some reference to the language of the
text. Quote length was greatly minimized as well, showing that students were able to focus their
analysis more on specific words or phrases. The pattern of starting out their analysis stronger and
falling into more summary by the end was still evident, but not nearly as much as with the
practice responses. My most re-occurring comment to students on these assessments was to

maintain their pointed analysis throughout the writing and end with a conclusion that attempts to
extend beyond their initial claim. Overall, however, I was glad to see that students were
cognizant of some of their earlier mistakes and were able to show improvements in the areas I
pointed out to them in their practice assessments. Going through this process of re-teaching the
strategies and conventions for writing an analysis and seeing the resulting improvements
emphasized for me the importance of providing direct feedback in my teaching. I know that
when handing back essays and assignments, I have given general comments to the class, but this
particular experience highlighted the effectiveness of individualized comments and feedback,
both in writing and in conferencing with students. I can take these methods forward into my own
teaching when I have important writing assignments, such as essays, due. I know now that
especially the first time students are writing an essay for me, I will want to give them feedback
on a draft of at least part of their essay so we can work together to fix mistakes before they turn
in their final product. I will also want to work with them after they have turned in an assignment
to reflect on areas where they could continue to improve for next time. Over time, they will
hopefully grow more comfortable with recognizing and fixing their own mistakes.


Poetry Response
Scoring Rubric

The response is a clear, complete, and accurate explanation of how the

language relates to the poets purpose or the poems theme. The
response includes relevant and specific information from the poem. All
attention is paid to spelling, grammar, and mechanics.

The response is a mostly clear, complete, and accurate explanation of

how the language relates to the poets purpose or the poems theme.
The response includes relevant but often general information from the
story. Attention is paid to spelling, grammar, and mechanics.

The response is a partial explanation of how the language relates to the

poets purpose or the poems theme. The response includes limited
information from the story or is merely a summary of the plot.

The response is a minimal explanation of how the language relates to

the poets purpose or the poems theme. The response includes little or
no information from the poem.
The response relates minimally to the task

The response is totally incorrect or irrelevant, or contains insufficient

evidence to demonstrate comprehension.