"Powell, D. (2013-16). Preservice teachers’ analysis of writing strengths and needs using the Universal Writing Continuum. UNCW: unpublished."
One of the required evidences UNCW students must demonstrate for North Carolina Licensure at the end of their student teaching is an analysis of learning using authentic assessment.
In Undergraduate pre-service teachers’ first semester in the Foundations of Literacy course, Debbie requires students to evaluate writing samples for the children they are tutoring. Consistently, students are able to meet the standard for authentic assessment analysis in their first methods course by using the Universal Writing Continuum.
The following are analyses of the writing strengths and needs of two 2nd grade
students by using The Universal Writing Continuum. It is important to note that
this analysis was written by an undergraduate pre-service teacher in her first
semester of methods courses and prior to even accessing the module on teaching
writing. Students complete a one-week module on assessing writing and
spelling before they complete this task.
Preservice Teacher 1:
Strengths in Writing:
Based on Dr. Powell’s writing continuum, I assessed Charles’ writing development using nine different traits. Charles’s strengths include having a strong sentence structure and fluency. When reading his piece, it has a natural flow which the reader can read with ease. He uses a variety of sentence structures in his piece titled, “Going to the Pool.” One sentence states, “My grandpa and my Grandma won’t go to the pool because they can’t swim.” He uses proper subject verb agreement and writes correctly, using the appropriate tense. Charles also uses declarative and interrogative sentences. However, he failed to put the punctuation in one interrogative sentence. This is why I put him in level D for conventions as he “experiments” with new punctuation. He is consistent at appropriately capitalizing the first word in the sentence and spacing between words. He is also very good at writing to learn/audience of self. He attempts using complete sentences to enhance the meaning and his strategies are quite clever. Instead of saying “his grandparents don’t go swimming because they can’t swim,” he uses a variety of sentences to explain that he asked them why they don’t go and that they replied they can’t swim. He also enhances his point by making an inference that “they can’t swim because they never go.”
Needs in Writing
Charles is in the 2nd semester, second grade. Based on The Writing Continuum, Charles should score a level E to be proficient at this point during the school year/semester. However, he falls into a level D or below for seven out of the eight writing traits. Each of his needs for the individual writing traits is explained below.
His idea/content isn’t well established. He titles his piece, “Going to the pool,” but never talks about the actual event of swimming. Charles needs work on generalizing and coming up with an idea that he can write effective supportive details. According to the continuum, Charles, “attempts to restate topic or question” and “lack[s] in-depth understanding or strong purpose.” I placed him in level D for ideas/content, but he is bordering the level C, because the length of his piece is inadequate to fully develop his idea.
In regard to his structure and organization, I have Charles in a level D. His piece uses temporal words that has minimal detail, and contains only two sequenced events. He orders the information so the reader is able to follow, but there is really no conclusion at the end.
In regard to voice and point of view, I put Charles at a basic level D, because he doesn’t write in 3rd person as well as 1st person. It seems that most of his pieces are a narrative account of events and therefore, he is always writing in 1st person. However, his voice in the piece does have a very unique perspective and you can almost hear him telling you his story.
Charles is also in a level C for word choice on the continuum because of he doesn’t take risks in adding new words. He needs to focus on the structure of a paper, having a title, author, paragraphs with a beginning, middle, and end.
Charles also needs to attempt to use illustrations in his piece to support or show the reader what is happening. His piece lacks any illustrations and in regard to the Presentation/Publishing content area, I had to place him in the level C for spatial principles. He doesn’t stop to think about adding an illustration, even after he has completed his piece.
Preservice Teacher 2:
Strengths in Writing
Using the Writing Continuum, I have decided to place Demarco in writing level E, which is proficient for the 2nd grade level. I've decided to analyze both of his written pieces, the Turtle Book and "One Day," because both of them show some distinct strengths he has as a writer. For ideas and content, Demarco has the ability to pick a topic and ensure that it is introduced, developed, and concluded sufficiently. He has the ability to pick a controlling idea and carry that idea throughout his story. He displayed both of these strengths in both of his written pieces.
For structure, organization, and genre, he is able to write with a purpose. In his story, "One Day," he was able to follow a sequence of events and in the Turtle Book he was able to organize the pages in the text to follow a specific order. In his story, "One Day," he was able start off with a lead and provide closure. He also attempted dialogue, although it was not well developed.
For voice, point of view, and attention to audience, I believe Demarco's writing abilities tend to each of the bulleted points. In both of his written pieces, he showed a sense of audience by providing examples to clarify meaning. His voice is definitely beginning to emerge and his written pieces are unique to his personality. In the story, "One Day," he was able to write in third person.
For word choice, Demarco is able to use some transitional words between ideas in his story, "One Day." For sentence fluency and structure, Demarco is able to use different sentence structures, write complete sentences with subject-verb agreement and noun-pronoun agreement, and use declarative and exclamatory sentences. He displayed strengths in all of these abilities in his written piece, "One Day." For conventions, Demarco is somewhat able to abide by the rules of Standard English by use of capital letters, end punctuation, and conventional spelling. He displayed these traits mostly in his Turtle Book, however, he did struggle with these abilities in his other written piece, "One Day."
For presentation and publishing, Demarco is able to add illustrations to provide some of the important information. In the Turtle Book, Demarco was able to create illustrations to provide additional meaning to the information provided. For writing process, Demarco is able to prewrite, as seen with his graphic organizer for the story "One Day," and is able to edit for misspelled words, as we did with the Turtle Book.
Needs in Writing:
I believe that Demarco has to be inspired in order to write, he does not like writing on demand. As seen with both of the written pieces he created, I had to provide him with visual stimulations and good quality literature in order for him to write. Once I did that, he was writing away. When writing his informational piece, the Turtle Book, Demarco displayed many strengths in writing and spelling. I allowed him to keep the books I read to him; Franklin Afraid of the Dark and All About Turtles. I believe this helped him come up with ideas to write about and also helped him spell more complex or unfamiliar words correctly.
I was able to really see some of Demarco's needs when he wrote his story, "One Day." The two aspects of his writing in this piece that I believe need guidance on are his consistent use of overused words and his lack of conventions. Throughout the story, he uses the word "said" many times and does not use any alternate words. He would definitely benefit from learning more exciting, spicier words to use when writing. His major need is to work on the use of conventions. In the writing, he uses the conjunction "and" a few times to connect sentences in an appropriate way, however, he also uses the word "and" many more times to connect different thoughts. He does use capital letters for the beginning of the sentences and proper nouns, however, he only has one complete sentence where he uses end punctuation. The rest of the sentences in the piece are run on, and, although the thought is complete, the sentence is not. Demarco would definitely benefit from additional instruction in the use of conventions in his writing. He used them well in his Turtle Book but he also had additional resources for help and was only writing one to two sentences per page instead of writing a while story.
Conclusion: The UWC provides teachers, even very inexperienced pre-service teachers, with the language to talk about writing and the specificity to plan instruction.