Bratcher Chapter 5

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brianne at 11:55 pm on Monday, March 28, 2011

Chapter 5 is a follow up to all the information in chapter 4. Response strategies are “techniques that teachers use to communicate the grades tehy have arrived at by using one of the approaches in Chapter 4,” (75). Bratcher offers three common ways of responding ot student writing: oral responses, written responses, and grades without comments.

In terms of oral responses, writing conferences can be implemented. Using this response method, teachers sit down with students one-on-one and orally discuss the evaluation. If the conference is being used to put a grade on a piece, first ask the student what grade he or she would give the assignment, and why. Next, state what grade you think the assignment should have and why. Finally, negotiate between your two positions if there is a difference, (76). However, if children are finished with a particular assignment and have no unresolved issues, there may not be very much to say in a conference, (78).


Advantages of Written responses: They provide a permanent record of teacher response, they can be brief or lengthy, or they can be made without the student being physically present, (80).

Disadvantages of Written responses: Traditionally they have focused on the negative, and they are often ignored or overlooked by students, (80).


Advantages of grades without comments: In situations where students will not have their papers returned or where they will not revise, grades without comments get the job done quickly and efficiently, (81).

Disadvantages of grades without comments: It communicates very little to students, and they can be disappointing to students who have worked hard on their writing, and only a few students actually approach the teacher for comments, (81).

The end of the chapter also offers numerous exercises to try and helpful references.

Bratcher, S., & Ryan, L. (2004). Evaluating children’s writing: A handbook of grading choices for classroom teachers (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.

Bratcher Chapter 4

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brianne at 11:30 pm on Monday, March 28, 2011

This chapter is all about approaches to grading. Bratcher breaks it down into several different categories: Analytic approaches, blended approaches, and holistic approaches. I really liked reading this chapter because it is chock full of excellent information and resources about grading. There are serveral criterion-referenced grading sheets, as well as personal essays from students, score sheets, and a graph representing traits of teh writing process. Advantages and disadvantages are provided for each category, as well as questions for discussion and grading.

Useful information I thought was important and beneficial:

Advantages of Criterion-referenced evaluation: It evaluates each of the identified skills of the good writer, and it lists for the student everything the evaluator wants him or her to work on (44).

Disadvantages of Criterion-referenced evaluation: It assumes that the quality of a piece of writing is the “sum of its parts”, it evaluates a product without reference to current instruction, and it can overwhelm both students and teachers (44).

Bratcher explains a good way to create an assignment-generated rubric by following these steps:

1) Set instructional goals for the assignment.

2) Prioritize the goals.

3) Set points or percentages for each of the instructional goals according to its priority.

4) Share the rubric with your students when you make the assignment.

5) Spend class time teaching the goals on the rubric as they apply to this assignment.

6) Have students revise their drafts following the rubric.


Advantages of Primary-trait evaluation: It focuses the student on a small number of instructional items, and it is highly responsive to instruction (56).

Disadvantages of Primary-trait evaluation: It may allow students to de-emphasize past instruction, and it may overlook some important criteria (56).

“Questions have analytical characteristics because they focus the evaluator on a set of specific items; they have holistic characteristics because they take into account the whole of the piece for the answer to any particular question,” (61).

Advantages of Questions for grading: They can offer a new way of looking at writing, and they can be tailored to the particular assignment, (63).

Disadvantages of Questions for grading: They may be prejudicial to one aspect of a piece of writing, and if overused, may be ignored by students, (63).


Advantages of Cluster grading: It compares writers to their immediate peers, to students who have had the same instruction as well as the same assignment, and once the evaluator is familiar with this system, it is a relatively fast method, (66).

Disadvantages of Cluster grading: It provides only a grade to a student. There is no systematic feedback provided on what the student has done well or what he or she needs to keep working on, it can create rivalry among student writers in a class, and it depends on the intuitional evaluation of a single grader, (66-7).


Advantages of Anchor evaluation: More than one person is involved in determining what quality of writing constitutes a particular level of work or grade, and once the evaluator is familiar with the anchors, this is probably the fastest way to determine the grade, (67).

Disadvantages of Anchor evaluation: It is isolated from instruction and does not allow for different emphases in grading over time, and it provides only a grade to a student, (67).


Advantages of Impressionistic grading: It is very fast, and since its traditional, it is often accepted by parents, (70).

Disadvantages of Impressionistic grading: It can be said to be “subjective” because it is personally based, (70).

The last part of the chapter offers exercises for each approach, and lists helpful references.

Bratcher, S., & Ryan, L. (2004). Evaluating children’s writing: A handbook of grading choices for classroom teachers (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.

Bratcher Chapter 3

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brianne at 9:05 pm on Monday, March 28, 2011

This chapter really gets down to the nitty gritty of the pieces of the grading puzzle. There are a lot of useful definitions she goes over, but most importantly, there are numerous examples of students’ writing that really exemplify the entire meaning of this book. The student work shown in this chapter show purpose, completion of ideas, details, transitions, cluster organizational maps, and partner checklists, as well as rough drafts, revising worksheets, an editing workshop, and a final draft. These examples are very helpful for teachers when evaluating and assessing their students.

Bratcher clearly and effectively defines context, content, structure, mechanics, and process. She later suggests,” We must determine the grade-appropriate writing behaviors in each of these areas so that we may design instruction and grades accordingly,” (37).

Bratcher, S., & Ryan, L. (2004). Evaluating children’s writing: A handbook of grading choices for classroom teachers (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.

Bratcher Chapter 2

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brianne at 8:47 pm on Thursday, March 24, 2011

This chapter goes a little further in depth by exploring how to put evaluation into a context. Bratcher defines the word grading as: “Communication between teachers and student that is designed to enhance the student’s writing.” (9). What teachers must pay close attention to is the “communication triangle”, which has three equally important considerations: “the audience intended to receive the communication, the purpose of the communication, and the chosen attitude of the communicator,” (9), where grading is in the middle of the triangle, while students are at the top, instructional purpose is on the bottom left, and teachers are on the bottom right (9).

Teachers must be aware of student audience considerations, the instructional purposes of grading, and teacher stances toward grading. Questions to consider when evaluating your students are: What do my students already know about writing? What do they like and dislike about writing? and What do I think they need to learn next? (10).

As far as instructional purposes go, grading purposes begin with assignment creation. Bratcher suggests four instructional methods to follow: Demonstrate the writing process, communicate with a specific audience, demonstrate mastery of specific content, and discover new content. “Coupled with an opportunity for revision or with a follow-up assignment, the graded writing becomes not an ending point but a starting point for the student,” (13).

Bratcher then offers advice towards grading from a teacher’s perspective: “The teacher can adjust later revisions and assignments to meet student needs illustrated by criteria not met by large numbers of students in the class. After a particular assignment has been graded, class discussions can focus on the same emphases instruction has focused on, serving as review and further challenge for students who need to relearn,” (16).

All in all, grading is a teaching tool that lets teachers connect to and evaluate their students. If teachers can demonstrate this effectively and efficiently, then both the teacher and students will benefit.

Bratcher, S., & Ryan, L. (2004). Evaluating children’s writing: A handbook of grading choices for classroom teachers (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.

Bratcher Chapter 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brianne at 8:31 pm on Thursday, March 24, 2011

This chapter introduces teachers to the grading process for writing. Although it may be daunting at first, it is a process that must be learned effectively, and will over time become easier. Bratcher mentions that most of us suffer from “teacher/grader schizophrenia”. We understand that writing is a process, and we should offer constructive criticism to our students while being positive. But, that’s hard when the school system tells you to assign a certain “grade” or “mark” to their work. However, this teacher/grader schizophrenia can be overcome by choosing grading options that match our purposes (6).

There are four main terms used when evaluating children’s writing: assessment, grading, evaluating, and responding:

Assessment offers less freedom for the teacher because it focuses on practical concerns about how a piece of writing is succeeding. Grading provides teachers with very little freedom because it condenses so much information into a single symbol that communication about writing is virtually lost. Evaluation is even more focused because it compares a piece of writing to some sort of benchmark or criterion. Finally, response to student writing offers teachers the most freedom because it grows directly out of the teacher’s reaction as a reader and is often based on an emotional reaction to the text,” (4).

No student wants to see the dreaded “red ink marks” all over their paper in reference to grading, and no good teacher wants to do that. Fortunately, as long as teachers match their true purpose to a particular grading option and BE CONSISTENT, there should be no problem.

Bratcher, S., & Ryan, L. (2004). Evaluating children’s writing: A handbook of grading choices for classroom teachers (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.

Bratcher Chapter 8

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brianne at 8:14 pm on Thursday, March 10, 2011

In this chapter of Bratcher’s text, she goes into great detail about how to assess students while still following the rules and regulations of state standards. She highlights the importance of state writing standards, state writing assessments, how to teach with these standards and assessments, and how to grade with state scoring guides. This chapter also mentions how to design writing prompts based on state scoring guides. A student friendly rubric is outlined also, which helps keep students at ease and makes sure they know exactly what they’re being evaluated on.

She suggests teachers to compare state standards and assessment to the following: “Classroom instructional context: purpose, student response, & teacher goals; grading puzzles, and analytic/holistic continuum,” (118).

There are both advantages and disadvantages of using state standards for evaluation, but the bottom line is that it is “important for teachers to understand their state’s academic standards in writing and apply the concepts and objectives expected in those standards to their instructional and evaluative practices,” (117).

Bratcher, S., & Ryan, L. (2004). Evaluating children’s writing: A handbook of grading choices for classroom teachers (2nd ed.). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc.

Chapter 10 Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brianne at 2:29 am on Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Getting Practical

I absolutely LOVE this last chapter!! The resources this book provides are endless and useful. While the previous chapters have certainly given future teachers plenty of examples and things to work with to help them be successful, this chapter lists all the different websites and resources in one easy chapter. These lists include search engines for students, literacy organizations, children’s literature websites, and much more. And yet again, as a future librarian, I find this extremely helpful. I will definitely look to these as guides to help me in my journey!

Chapter 5 Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brianne at 2:17 am on Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Early Literacy & Technology

In the beginning of this chapter, Barone mentions that incorporating technology, such as computers, into the classroom at an early literacy stage could be detrimental to their ability to learn and comprehend basic literacy instruction that would otherwise be learned through the use of print. After all, “…the computer, through the use of drill and practice software, was being used to support the isolated learning of discrete skills seemingly required for traditional literacy–that is, singular book literacy” (101). However, this is far from being accurate, as researchers have found that, “the internet and other forms of information and communication technology (ICT) continually redefine literacy, and the construct of literacy is expanding into what are thought of as the new literacies, which allow us to use the internet and other forms of ICT to identify important problems, locate information, analyze the usefulness of that information, synthesize information to solve problems, and communicate the solutions to others” (107).

Although technology can be a wonderful tool for educational isntruction, we must also keep in mind that some students will not have access to the internet or these other forms of instant communication. Just because our world is becoming more and more technologically based, it does not mean we should assume every child has this priviledge, which I personally think is easy to do.

As a future elementary school librarian, depending on where I will be working of course, I have every intention of using the internet and computer programs to guide literacy instruction in a fun, safe, and informative way.

Barone, D. M., Xu, S. H., & Mallette, M. H. (2005). Teaching early literacy: Development, assessment, and instruction (2nded.). New York: Guilford Press.

Chapter 9 Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brianne at 9:30 pm on Monday, February 28, 2011

Issues in Early Literacy

This chapter offers four successful approaches that teachers can take to help their at-risk readers. Barone mentions that intervention was not even put into practice until the 3rd or 4th grade, which is entirely too late. The key is recognition and early intervention, so students do not fall behind or get frustrated. Barone states,”Historically, ‘at-risk’ students were primarily those whose language, culture, values, communities, and family structures did not match those of the dominant white culture that schools were designed to support” (197).  Students should not feel ashamed or embarrassed, although they often tend to feel like it when they are struggling against their peers. It is the teacher’s responsibility to recognize and apply the necessary steps to help students succeed.

The predictive approach is a model used to assess just how ‘at-risk’ each student is. The more at-risk factors a child has, such as limited English proficiency or poverty, the more at-risk the child is considered to be. The descriptive approach is “one in which students are selected for special services after they have demonstrated some failure in a regular reading program” (197). A more updated approach to this would be the Reading Recovery program, which is “an intensive one-on-one tutoring program that attempts to accelerate the learning of struggling readers” (198). The third approach is called the unilateral approach. This approach sees all children as potentially at-risk students, and so therefore are all qualified to be admitted to special programs. Another method is called the ecological approach, which takes into account the characteristics of a student, a school, a community, and the combined interaction of the three.

The Anna Plan is yet another approach recently put into practice that has been recognized by the International Reading Association. This plan is a nation-wide approach to literacy reform. This particular plan closely models the ecological approach, but certainly incorporates the other three. Some of the tenets this plan practices include: providing scaffolding that permits each child to work at his or her instructional reading level, allows for professional development, and maintains a team orientation (200).

Barone, D. M., Xu, S. H., & Mallette, M. H. (2005). Teaching early literacy: Development, assessment, and instruction (2nded.). New York: Guilford Press.

Chapter 8 Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Brianne at 8:46 pm on Monday, February 28, 2011

Engaging Families

Barone really does a good job writing about the importance of family to a child’s education and future in this chapter about how to engage families.

First and foremost, teachers must respect families’ rights and opinions about certain topics. If a family does not feel comfortable with sharing certain aspects of their life, teachers must realize and respect that all people are different. However, parents play a crucial role in their child’s development, not only socially, but academically as well. As Barone states, “A large body of research has shown that evidence of family involvement in children’s literacy development varies among families of different cultural, linguistic, and socio-economic backgrounds” (173).

As teachers, I think we have preconceived opinions and ideas about families. To help with sometimes hurtful misconceptions, at the beginning of the year, a teacher can send home a “Family Interview”, as seen on page 172. Getting to know your students’ families will ultimately be beneficial to knowing your students better. Barone goes into detail about what teachers should expect when visiting children’s homes, and how to ask for parental involvement if needed. Barone also mentions helpful tools to help families become teachers of their children, such as creating alphabet books, comic strips, engaging in meaningful discussions of text, journaling, utilization of internet resources, newspapers, library visits, and message boards, to name a few.

Barone, D. M., Xu, S. H., & Mallette, M. H. (2005). Teaching early literacy: Development, assessment, and instruction (2nded.). New York: Guilford Press.

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