Before teaching French, I taught science, so the idea of a writing portfolio was something that I never tried before until this year. The portfolio is simply a manila folder with a cover sheet, filled out by the students, that lists the date of the assignment and notes about what they could do to improve upon their writing. Each writing performance is scored using a rubric, in most cases the same or a similar rubric. Whenever the students receive work back, they put it in their folder. They look at any notes, not corrections, I make on their paper, and then write notes to themselves on the cover page. Halfway through the year, they take everything out, examine it chronologically and fill out a form that speaks about their success and improvements still needed to be made.
I was proud as their teacher to be able to see the evolution of their work throughout the year. Never until this year, have I seen such growth in my students in such a short time.
For many writing assessments, the class completed collaborative brainstorming. This took many forms: a scaffolded list of ideas that they shared with the class, stations they used to break the task down into smaller pieces, blog posts that afforded them the opportunity to free-write, i.e.,writing just to write.
Peer proof-reading was a part of many longer, non-timed writing assessments. The students passed their papers in a group of 4. 1st pass: read for organization, details, effort, 2nd pass: check grammar, 3rd pass: check spelling, accents, 4th pass: check that all requirements are fulfilled
Having a writing portfolio makes students focus on the writing process. Opening that folder each time gives them the desire to see improvement in their writing and provides them with focus.
Using authentic texts in the classroom shows students what the living language looks like. They acquire such an abundant amount of vocabulary and awareness of the language that is not actually taught directly.
Grammar is taught specifically with a purpose, not just as the next discrete concept to learn. Writing is done as a performance assessment and the grammar is necessary for its completion. Using performance assessments make the writing meaningful for the students.
As a teacher, I am more cognizant of what they are actually able to do with the language.
Places to improve:
I could have the students write what they are proud of for each entry and 1 improvement they have made, so they can reflect on their writing each time, rather than simply citing my suggestions.
I would like to have a true beginning of the year entry to serve as a point of comparison, without using any of the techniques I employ throughout the year.
What techniques do you use to help your students improve their writing, L1 or L2?
Thanks for reading!