Saturday, February 15, 2014

Rate that Writing!! (Input Wanted)

Over the past week while snowed in, I have been spending time trying to develop ways to increase student performance, participation, and engagement in one particular class of mine.  Overall, it should help all classes, but I have one class that is concerning me. Sometimes snow days can be so helpful because they slow down the pace and give us the time that we need to develop ideas. While thinking on this, I remembered a strategy I used several years ago that was competition-based.  It seems even the least motivated students become motivated by competition--especially if they feel they have a chance at winning.

My idea seems to be coming together, but I always feel that ideas are better with input.  Here's what I have thought of: A game or competition called "Rate that Writing!" I have been going through the 6 traits of writing with my students.  Each week, we are covering a different trait.  So far, since the snow, I have only had time to cover the ideas trait, and I am preparing to cover the organization trait.  I plan on having a "Rate that Writing" challenge for the students.  They are given a goal to write toward.  The first one will be based on the ideas trait.  They need to write a paragraph with one main solid idea and relevant supporting details.

After this, I will collect their paragraphs and place them in a shoebox.  The next day (I am planning to have this on a Friday), I will select 3 paragraphs at random to be entered into the "Rate that Writing!" competition.  Their paragraphs will be anonymously judged by another class using a judging criteria card (I want this portion to have a sort of game-show feel). The card will tell the students what would give the paragraph a 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1.  The students then give it a score.  The highest scoring paragraph wins a "gold medal" and a place on a "gold medal writing" bulletin board.  At that point, the student may wish to reveal his or her name or remain anonymous.

I am having students rate another class's writing for a few reasons.
1.) No student will rate his or her own writing
2.) Nobody in the class will try to figure out whose it is
3.) The students will not know if their paragraphs were chosen--only the winner will find out if he or she won.  I feel this might help some of my students struggling with confidence to not feel bad if someone else won.

I am also choosing 3 paragraphs at random for a couple of reasons.
1.) The excitement of not knowing if yours is going to be chosen
2.) Trying your hardest because your paragraph will only be up against 2 others and it gives you a chance of winning as long as you do your best.
3.) The students can also know I am not picking one person's writing in particular.  I am choosing whatever comes out of the box.

Anyway, if anyone feels like reading this and has any input or ideas to contribute, I'd greatly appreciate it.  


  1. I think that's great. My school was lucky enough this year to work with Fred Wolff, a 6+1 guru. As a motivator, you could play this game that he taught us: The Lead Game. Each student writes one line that would make a good first sentence of a book, something that will pull the reader in. Have the students write their sentence anonymously on an index card. Give the students something to work on while you read their "leads." Choose 3 that you think are top notch. Add an index card with the first sentence of a published book, so that you have 4 leads.

    Gather the students back, and tell them you are going to share 3 of their leads, and one lead that is from a real book. Their job is to determine which one is the real lead. (Remind the students if theirs is read not get indicate that it is theirs ;) They get excited!) The four corners of your room will correspond with one of the leads you read. For example, if they think the first one was the real lead, go to the corner by the door. Ask the students in each corner why they thought that was the real lead. Your students who wrote those leads will get such a confidence boost like you wouldn't believe!

    Replay the lead game twice if you get enough solid responses.

    Hope this helps to motivate your kids!

    My kids LOVE this game. I played this game with a bunch of teachers during Fred's in-service, and my lead was read... I still get goosebumps thinking about how wonderful that felt.

  2. Sounds like a great tie-in to the Olympics, which they are all probably watching with interest as to who will take the Gold. Will they be able to tell whose handwriting is whose or will it be printed or written on the computer? I like the game idea in the other comment also. Anything that motivates and is fun.