THE UNIVERSAL WRITING CONTINUUM IS TEACHER-TESTED!
"The Universal Writing Continuum (UWC) provides a comprehensive writing instruction tool and record-keeping system for teachers to manage the numerous, complex, and multi-faceted aspects associated with a process-approach to writing. There is a multitude of resources related to the teaching of writing, such as sample letters to parents, video clips of instructional practices, UWC position papers on best practices, and grade-appropriate rubrics. The beauty of the system is its ability to assist a teacher with the daily task of keeping on top of students’ progress, giving individual student feedback on their writing assignments in a timely manner, and maintaining specific and accurate records on each student. When both the teacher and the students have access to the digital tools needed for using this program, such as classroom computers or tablets, and the brief training needed to effectively use the tools provided by the program, the benefits it provides for productive writing workshop time is enhanced."
"One of the more helpful aspects of the UWC is the way in which it helps the teacher assess student writing. Through a merging of the 6 Traits, along with the three types of writing advanced by the Common Core Standards, the UWC identifies writing qualities that would enable a teacher to assess a writing sample at the Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, Advanced, or Advanced + levels within each of the three types of writing from Pre-K to 12th grade and it includes a continuum from first to second semester to account for – and indicate an expectation for – growth in writing over the course of a school year. Sample anchor papers are provided for each type of writing at each level of proficiency."
"In NCTE’s 2013 position statement on the importance of formative assessment, ten statements are listed that describe what its benefits are to the learner, each of which is addressed in one way or another in the UWC. Below I list each item on the list and how UWC provides for that."
- Requires students to take responsibility for their own learning. UWC: Students can log into their account to look at the comments a teacher has made in response to a paper that has been submitted; students upload their papers into their account.
- Communicates clear, specific learning goals. UWC: Teachers can access a large bank of comments & feedback to use, as well as add their own favorite or much-used comments to the bank.
- Focuses on goals that represent valuable educational outcomes with applicability beyond the learning context. UWC: Because the CCSS are integrated into the scoring rubrics, the greater purposes for developing strong writers are inherent to this program.
- Identifies the student’s current knowledge/skills and the necessary steps for reaching the desired goals. The UWC is set up so that students can receive feedback that helps them improve their written submissions. The rubrics are visible, easy for teachers to employ and for students to read. The Universal Writing Continuum provides an in-depth progression of skills from Pre-K to 12th grade across the Traits and processes involved with writing development.
- Requires development of plans for attaining the desired goals. UWC: Teachers can list specific goals for students in each student’s file and can keep notes on each child pertaining to conferences, skills to address, next-steps in writing progression from draft to final copy.
- Encourages students to self-monitor progress toward the learning goals. UWC: See #1.
- Provides examples of learning goals including, when relevant, the specific grading criteria or rubrics that will be used to evaluate the student’s work. UWC: See #4
- Provides frequent assessment, including peer and student self-assessment and assessment embedded within learning activities. UWC:All the tools needed for assessing student work are provided; the frequency is dependent on how often the teacher uses the tools.
- Includes feedback that is non-evaluative, specific, timely, and related to the learning goals, and that provides opportunities for the student to revise and improve work products and deepen understandings. UWC: See # 2
- Promotes metacognition and reflection by students on their work. UWC: Not sure about this. Is there a way for students to upload personal comments and reflections on their work and progress?
"When all the components of the program are completed, this will be unmatched by anything else that’s currently available."
“Rarely do I write to other administrators and try to endorse one system or another. But here's what we're up to:"
“The Universal Writing Continuum is a new program—actually in its beta testing phase—that allows teachers to track from year to hear how students are doing on their writing. It's part database, part scoring system, part tracker. Not only does it record regular writing assignments, it keeps track of benchmark papers, so that you can assess how your building is doing in writing. We've been working with its creator, Dr. Debbie Powell, from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington."
“If your building is like mine, you might have noticed that kids struggle with writing. That is true even if your reading program is strong. Writing takes time to do well....The Continuum doesn't make it any easier, but it does help give your writing program a bit more of a cohesive purpose. It also gives teachers a system for tracking progress. It's better than a rubric, because it gives a much more detailed snapshot of how a kid is doing. In addition, the kids who might never ever get out of the 1 or 2 box on a rubric (and we know who they are) still can show real growth because of how the Continuum is put together."
“There are other things about this system that I really, really like, especially as an administrator. Knowing as I do that writing is one of the first things to fall by the wayside, it allows me to track not only improvement from year to year, but also whether teachers are teaching writing at all. I can mandate three benchmark papers a year and know that they're coming in and being scored properly. The system encourages this sort of participation. It also encourages teachers to actually talk about writing and whether an individual paper meets the different standards."
“Also exciting is a feature that allows you to scan in kid papers and keep them on file digitally, and to allow parents to have access to this work remotely. It's one thing to say that a kid is exceeding grade level in conventions, but it's another to allow parents to see what "exceeding grade level' really means and also see their child's improvement from year to year, right on their screen.”
"The UWC is aligned with the Common Core; many of the elements of writing can be found in the Common Core. The UWC goes beyond the Common Core by including writing elements and language not addressed in the standards. The UWC simultaneously organizes the Common Core by the writing elements and by grade level. It advances the expectations mid-year, thereby helping teachers determine if the work is of grade-level (or not) performance."
"I think a continuum is helpful to teachers needing guidance on pinpointing areas of strength and weaknesses with individual students. Once I learned how to navigate through the system, the Continuum was easy to use."
"Great tool that provides informative information."
“The writing continuum is a solid tracking device for students’ growth in writing. It is easy to use and provides another data point to view growth.”
“I would say that it is very comprehensive and better than anything that we currently have for scoring a student’s writing. It is very explicit and it is easy to see the progression from one proficiency band to the next. It also ensures that teachers know the Common Core Standards not only for their grade level but as a continuum.”
“If used throughout the school year consistently, students and teachers will have great data to discuss in terms of progress or lack of in specific areas of writing. If assessed regularly, students should be able to target areas of weakness as a writer and improve those areas contributing to the whole.”
“The Universal Writing Continuum was very beneficial to my Common Core writing instruction. I was also able to address students’ strengths and weaknesses. Using the writing continuum I was also able to strengthen my knowledge of writing standards for other grade levels.”
“I just have to say that I love it; I love that it’s so broken down and so precise... It’s just not something broad to look at; you can literally go back and look at the (student’s) story and check to see did he do that? I was really taken with this.”