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Feed Forward: Pattern Analysis in Student Writing to Inform Instruction

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Within the feedback, feed up, feed forward assessment framework, let's explore the idea of feed forward and how that works in the context of a writing workshop approach. 

Feed Forward is about observing patterns in student work and using that data to inform and modify instruction to small or whole groups of students. What does the feed forward assessment strategy look like using a writing workshop approach?

While researchers like Hattie, Fisher and Frey often describe this as misconception or error analysis, pattern analysis is likely a more appropriate term as we want to be able to identify both strengths as well as areas where further instruction is warranted. Once needs are identified, teachers often respond to the needs identified through mini lessons.

Let's examine two sample error analysis charts for writing

In the first chart from 3-5 grades, the focus is on the writing structure. The second chart is from middle middles grades and focused at a more micro level on the specific task related to reading and understanding the use of primary documents.

Many published writing programs designed to support the implementation of the writing workshop approach will deliver prepackaged mini-lessons. It is critical that the mini-lessons used in classrooms are in response to expectations set out in the standards as well as observed writing instructions needs gathered through the feed up process.

Activity: Revisiting Writing Expectations to Design Error Analysis Charts. 

1. Begin by reviewing the writing shifts called for in the Common Core State Standards. In smaller groups by grade level clusters, select a specific standard that you feel is significantly demanding. For example, you might take on the increased emphasis on argument vs. persuasion.

2. Using sample chart as an example, discuss what observable skills are necessary to achieve the specific standard. It is important to break down the skills into teachable chunks that can be scaffolded.

Depending on the grade level you can organize it using a class roster or by period.

3. If time allows, as a group, test the draft chart by examining several pieces of student writing. What did you notice? Are there skills that should be added to the chart?

4. Returning to the idea of "teach the writer, not fix the writing", and thinking about the mismatch between what teachers tend to notice in student writing versus identifying opportunities to teach, did you fall into any old habits? 




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These tools were created as part of the Literacy Improvement in Rural Education through Collaboration (LIREC) project funded by the U.S. Department of Education