Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Schoology Checklists to Teach Writing

By Mark Heintz

A few weeks ago @MsRachelBarry posted how to create a Schoology checklist.  If you want to learn how to create a checklist or don't know what they are, you should read her post by clicking here.  The checklist feature is great for materials that students can easily self-assess or can be automatically graded with an assessment, such as a multiple choice, matching, ordering of events, or true false questions.  You can mandate students post assignments, view links, or take assessments in the order you want them to.  I have used checklists in varying ways, but recently I created a Schoology checklist to help teach writing.

I teach a comparative essay in world history.  It is a very specific essay that addresses students ability to compare two concepts or processes using historical content.  Students struggle with writing and struggle more with writing in an academic sense.  Furthermore, teaching writing often comes with varying skill levels and the checklist allows for more individualized learning to take place.   Here is the prompt I used for this checklist:

For the first step, I had the students sort historical terms into either the Haitian, French, or Latin American Revolution.

When finished, the students submit their worksheet to Schoology. After submitting the worksheet, a quiz comprised of a matching question assessed the same information on the worksheet.  This is learning that the students could assess on their own through the quiz.  Here is a sample of the quiz:  

After students pass the quiz, they move on to grouping the information into either a method or an outcome of the revolutionary process.  The first two steps can sometimes be accomplished without my help.  Some of the higher skilled students can move onto to the harder concepts and work on the skills they need to at their own pace.  At the same time, I can have students who do not understand the content, stay at the own level and get the help they need. Furthermore, students cannot move on to higher level skills without laying the ground work needed to be a good writer.  It is a failsafe way to ensure students can be successful.  When students know the content and do the first steps, it helps students become successful.  Here is a sample of the grouping worksheet and quiz.  

After they pass the quiz, students have to check in with me, the teacher, before they can move on to the next step.  The next step is when students come up with possible groupings for methods and outcomes.  There is not one correct answer, therefore it cannot easily be assessed with a multiple choice assessment.  So, I have the students write their possible groupings in a short essay question in Schoology.  I check the students' work and approve of it before they can move.

Students move on to evaluating and writing of the essay.  I have the students read through several thesis statements to see if they contain all of the components needed to be considered a good thesis.  I then have the students submit their work and take a matching quiz in Schoology to assess their evaluative skills.  
Schoology Thesis Quiz
The last stage in the process is writing comparative statements.   Students will evaluate pre-generated comparative statements.  After reading the statement, they will fix the statement by rewriting it in the correct manner.  They will post their statements in Schoology for me to evaluate.  At the end of the lesson, the students will have a portfolio of student work and samples to look back upon for future essays.  

When completed, the students will be able to write the essay on their own.  This is in the early stages of the essay writing process.  The students will have seen several parts of the essay and have done the planning stages of the essay.  If everything goes well, the students will be successful when they write the essay. 


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