As discussed in my previous 2 blog posts (1) and (2) I wanted to improve the detail and clarity of writing in my Level 2 Geography class. I felt students lacked evidence, linkages and detail required in Level 2. As noted in my 2nd post – I attempted to give structural feedback to students but felt this may have been an intimidating approach and may have deterred some of the less confident writers.
Admittedly I had seen some improvement when I asked students to write an essay and asked them to focus on structure compared to their first assessment. However, I wanted us to keep working on the structure. As we had done a couple of solid weeks on essay writing at the end of term 1 I decided to take the focus off a little bit while continuing to reinforce the points. I tried a number of approaches. As the class was now finishing up their writing for the research assessment I felt it was important to have frequent class discussions about paragraph structure. At times this meant just reminding students about TEXAS (topic sentence, evidence, example, analysis and summary/link). I would regularly stop the class to discuss this during their assessment write up and continued to provide feedback focused on structure (however, I got rid of the highlighting and simply left comments on students work).
I felt this approach was useful for a number of reasons. Firstly, I had already established the framework I would be feeding back to students based on the traffic light system (see post 2) this then meant my comments could be less specific (without breaching the conditions of assessment). For example, I would comment “Link back to the question” or “Include more evidence” “Topic sentence” and students would know I was referring to the structure of their paragraph. I still continued to reinforce the importance of strong essay structures and would often provide students with examples of topic sentences, links and specific evidence and examples through class based discussion.