When it comes to English Learners, how do you teach a level 4 writer to become a level 5?
My students just finished their WIDA-ACCESS testing a couple weeks ago. Greatest take away: writing is the language domain I feel least confident instructing. The nuance between levels 4-5-6 is a matter of mechanics and language control or style. Put another way, how do I teach students to refine their writing now that they have a solid foundation in organization and basic mechanics? Students in Denver Public Schools have two years to make the leap from ACCESS level 4-5. Here's what I'm working toward this month; look for posts on these in the next couple of weeks.
I've delved into the WIDA Consortium's Can-Do descriptors in order to better assess what language skills to target. My professional learning community created an awesome progress monitoring tool based off of WIDA's rubrics. This tool can be used with any writing sample to attain insightful data on student ability. I'm also so giving my students more exposure to grade-level student exemplars (which roughly correlate to ACCESS level), and engaging them in the critique process.
For our portfolio piece this unit, I'm trying out a new digital story-telling platform, Storybird. The goal is to provide greater differentiation for students thus increasing engagement. Storybird is naturally differentiated by language level, but the art-based writing process is a particular strength for ELs. Student's begin with an image, selected from Storybirds imaginative gallery. Then, students compose a piece based on the art (picture book, chapter, or poetry).