Bridging the Gap: Improving Student Writing through Using Focal Student Work to Plan for Effective Feedback

Elementary students at World Academy in Oakland struggle as proficient writers; their writing skills hold them back from re-classifying as Fully English Proficient (RFEP) and from meeting or exceeding standards as measured by the state Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test, or SBAC. While research shows that effective feedback has a robust effect size in helping students to improve as writers, the teachers at World Academy were not consistently giving effective feedback to their students on their writing. This 9 week intervention used the structure of Writing Workshop that was already in place and taught teachers how to give more effective feedback to their students. The professional development intervention included building teachers’ background knowledge on the characteristics of effective feedback, modeling of strategy groups in writing workshop, using student work to collaboratively plan for effective feedback, and in-classroom coaching on how to use strategy groups for teaching writing to World Academy students. Through this sustained PD cycle, teachers made significant shifts in their practice as they learned to plan for tasks that would require the immediate transfer of their feedback into student work, their confidence as writing teachers of diverse learners increased, and their systems for tracking student writing goals also improved.

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