Saturday, December 15, 2012

VA 2013 Writing SOL in 5th grade

The VA Department of Education is administering the 5th grade (and 8th and HS) Writing SOL this year as an online assessment. It is a two-part assessment. One part has students answer multiple choice questions related to reading draft writing and answering questions related to planning and researching, better written expression, and correct writing mechanics. The second part has students read a writing prompt and compose a written response online.

The VDOE released 44 Prompts and a 5th grader in the state of VA will get one of these prompts.

When I looked closely at each prompt and thought about what kind of writing I would do to respond to the prompt in writing, I saw three different kinds of writing.
  • 10 prompts ask for a small moment personal narrative response
    •  EX: Think of a time when someone did something special for you. Perhaps the person sent a card, helped with homework, or cooked a food you liked. Write about this time and include details.
  • 20 prompts ask for an essay response
    •  EX: Think of your favorite place to eat. The location could be at home, school, a park, a restaurant, or another place. Write to explain why this is your favorite place to eat.
  • 14 prompts asking for a story response, with most suggesting fantasy elements be included.
    • EX: Imagine your friend has a car that talks and flies. The car can do other amazing things. Your friend takes you on a ride.Write to tell what happened when your friend took for a ride in the car.
 As we help the 5th graders at my school prepare for their March Writing SOL assessment, we plan to review with them how to plan, draft, and publish a small moment personal narrative and an essay. Both of these writing genres we taught in the fall and also were taught in 4th grade.

However, we have not taught fiction writing yet and it was not something taught explicitly in 4th grade. (We'll have to remedy that!) So we are planning to teach the students in January how to write a fiction story.

We plan to follow the excellent lessons in Lucy Calkins' Units of Study for Teaching Writing, Grades 3-5.  Book 4 entitled Writing Fiction: Big Dreams, Tall Ambitions encourages students to live like fiction writers; to collect story ideas by observing their own lives; to create characters with wants and struggles; and to use story arcs to create rising action.

It is only December. I feel confident that by March 12th and 14th (the days we are administering the Writing SOL at our school), we will be ready!

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