SUSQUEHANNA TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17109
Writing is communicating ideas and emotions on paper. We expect all students to be able to express their thoughts and feelings in writing: accurately, concisely, and coherently. Consequently, all teachers must provide guidance and frequent opportunities for students to develop and apply this skill.
PREMISES OF WRITING
Susquehanna Township School District subscribes to a number of premises concerning writing.
- Writing is a life skill.
- Students need to be active participants in the writing process.
- Students need to write on a daily basis both at school and at home. Research shows that students learn to write by writing.
- Writing must be a major component of the language arts program.
- The writing curriculum must offer guided instruction, multiple writing experiences, and specific and constructive feedback.
- Teachers across all content areas need to provide instruction and opportunities for all students to write.
- Good writing takes time. Writing is a process, which involves pre-writing, drafting, conferencing, revising, editing, and writing the final draft.
- Thinking, reading, listening, speaking, organizing and analyzing are complementary skills that contribute to proficiency in the writing process.
- Teachers must assess student writing and provide constructive feedback.
- Technology must be integrated into writing instruction and the writing process.
- Teacher modeling of writing enhances instruction and reinforces the value and purpose of writing.
- Literature offers authentic purposes to write and clear models to follow.
Approved by School Board – April 15, 1983
Amended by School Board – June 8, 1987
Amended by the School Board – June 26, 1989
Amended by School Board – February 22, 1993
Amended by School Board – July 26, 2004
Susquehanna Township School District recognizes the importance of developing the writing skills needed to create effective written communications. We have established the following goals:
The writing curriculum must be designed to help every student acquire the communication skills of listening, understanding, speaking, reading and writing.
The writing curriculum must be designed to provide all students with instruction, experience, and feedback to acquire the skills required by various types of writing.
The writing curriculum must be designed to provide ongoing written language experiences that will enable students to be lifelong writers.
MANDATED GRADE LEVEL WRITING ACTIVITIES
As part of the Susquehanna Township School District’s Writing program, a list of mandated writing activities has been identified for each grade level. The intent of this requirement is to assure that each student will participate in a number of writing exercises each year and to guarantee that all students are exposed to all major writing forms during their school experience.
A “Writing Handbook,” which will include the district’s mandated grade level writing activities, philosophy of writing, writing goals and a description of the writing process utilized by the district, will be distributed to all students.
ANNUAL DISTRICT WRITING SAMPLE REQUIREMENT
During the fourth marking period of each school year, a sample of each student’s writing will be collected in conformance with established administrative guidelines. These guidelines will include requirements relative to length, heading, title, spacing, editing/grading, and submission procedures. They will be provided to staff at least two weeks prior to initiating the assignment each spring. Through this initiative, students will be able to demonstrate their writing proficiency.
All writing samples will be submitted to the building principal(s) not later than the second Thursday of May. Building principals will deliver the writing samples to District Office by the third Thursday of May. They will be made available to the members of the curriculum liaison committee of the school board for review.
DISTRICT WRITING FOLDER
The district Writing Folder will contain copies of each year’s writing sample and will provide a means for showing student growth in writing (composition) skills.
THE PROCESS APPROACH TO WRITING
Writing is a developmental and complex language process that involves generating ideas, composing text, and communicating ideas to others in writing. The process approach makes the following assumptions about writing:
- There are identifiable elements:
Pre-Writing – thinking, focusing, rehearsing, motivating
Drafting – formulating, composing, organizing
Revising – rethinking, rearranging, adding, condensing
Editing – correcting, and checking conventions of standard English grammar
These elements are an essential aspect of the writing process; however, each element is not always required for a writing activity. The elements are interactive and may occur simultaneously.
- In instruction, the aim is for fluency, form, and accuracy. Writing instruction should initially focus on fluency.
- Good writing depends on a sense of:
Image of self as a writer
EVALUATION OF STUDENT WRITING
Teachers evaluate student writing in several ways. Notes, drafts, and final products are graded according to student success in particular skills emphasized in the assignment. In such a procedure, only a few of the many variables of the writing process are evaluated at any one time.
One type of evaluation that can be employed is holistic scoring, which evaluates the success with which students use all aspects of the writing process in the assignment. Teachers grade or score a composition with regard to the overall quality of the work.
Analytical scoring techniques can also be used. In such evaluations, the teacher grades the work with regard to specific skills, such as spelling. Both the overall impression and the number and/or type of errors are combined to yield a final grade.
Portfolios may also be used as a means to gain insights about students’ writing. Journal entries, reports, essays, notes, drafts, compositions, logs, and charts may be selected by the teacher and student for inclusion in a portfolio. The portfolio may be evaluated holistically and analytically. Because self-evaluation leads to deeper analysis and understanding of how writing develops, students’ portfolios should always be available so that the students are involved in evaluating their work.
Evaluating and grading student work is the responsibility of the teacher. However, peer review and student self-review are techniques also used to critique work. Writing checklists are provided to students to assist them in the editing process.
Because of the number of student writing assignments indicated in this curriculum, not everything written by each student will be read and/or graded by the teacher. The purpose of rating student writing is clearly to provide information on which student grades can be determined. Teaching students to write does not necessarily require grades on most or all composing efforts. More important are the frequency of student writing opportunities and the feedback they receive regarding their writing.
EVALUATION OF THE WRITING CURRICULUM
The district Writing Folder will contain annual student writing samples and will provide a means for showing student growth in writing. The annual writing sample is submitted during the fourth marking period. Current writing sample topics are listed below, but they are subject to change from year to year.
Kindergarten An original Story with Drawing
Grade 1 A “When I Grow Up” Narrative
Grade 2 A Narrative about a Pet
Grade 3 A Description of an Unusual Place
Grade 4 A Persuasive Essay
Grade 5 A Personal Narrative
Grade 6 A Description of a Favorite Place
Grade 7 A Response to a Reading Selection
Grade 8 A Completion of a Story by a Well-Known Author
Grade 9 An Expository Essay
Grade 10 A Persuasive Essay
Grade 11 An Analysis of an American Literary Work
Grade 12 A Topic to be Selected by Student with Teacher Approval