The time has come for the infamous Florida Writes, our state writing test. Like many other schools we have been training our kids for this test, getting them prepared mentally and academically so that they perform at their best. Of course, like any other school day you can not predict what the students will go through the day of the test. You just never know about the stresses individual children will encounter throughout the test.
When we came back from Christmas break we started our writing camps which are designed for students to be able to work independently on the skills in writing that are the most important for their grade. We had a 3rd grade camp where the students worked on structures of writing a paper, 5th grade working on research papers so that they could be prepared for middle school and our two classes of 4th graders getting ready for the FCAT Writes. These classrooms were the true writing boot camps.
For six weeks these fourth graders went over the six traits of writing, how to use powerful verbs, catchy grabbers, beginnings, middles, and endings. And, of course, the most important lesson of how to distinguish between a narrative and an expository piece. If you have ever taught intermediate writing, then you know what a nightmare this can be. No matter how many times you go over the key words that distinguish the two types of writing, you are still going to have those students who choose to write the opposite style. The big surprise this year seems to have been - or at least the rumor is - that all prompts were narrative! So... any child who said he wrote about three reasons wrote in the wrong genre. He may be a great writer but his scores will suffer.
I can say that the past six weeks have been super stressful when it has come to writing, but I really feel that the writing camps benefited each individual student. They provided the students with confidence. I will let you know when our scores come back. Until then have fun getting ready for the FCAT!