Mary Sue’s writing sample provides information about her writing skills in several areas. First, her writing demonstrates her level of understanding and mastery of the subject area, argumentative writing. Second, there is evidence of her general areas of strength and weakness in writing. Third, this sample indicates some concerns about the possibility of dysgraphia.
In the area of argumentative writing, we should examine Mary Sue’s writing sample in regard to the teacher’s goals. He wanted students to choose a position, to support it with three reasons, and to explain each reason with sufficient detail to be convincing. Mary Sue’s position was clear. She supported staying with a five-day school week of seven hours rather than shifting to a four-day school week of nine hours. Mary Sue gave three reasons to support her position. A longer day would tire students. People would have to eat dinner later. There would be less time to spend with families. However, Mary Sue did not provide sufficient detail for her reasons. In fact, she stated some support rather than counter argument for the opposite position.
Mary Sue shows some strengths in general areas of written expression. Most of her sentences are complete, begin with capitals, and end with periods. Most words are spelled correctly. She uses transitions such as one, another, and finally. She uses simple and complex sentence structure. Despite the inconsistent left margin, paragraphs seem to be indicated by
indentions. There are a few weak areas such as the lack of a strong opening and closing. There are a few spelling and punctuation errors, and there are a couple of incomplete sentences beginning with the conjunctions but and because.
There are some indicatio...
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...n I begin a new paragraph?
Teaching Mary Sue to use a scoring rubric for self-assessing her writing might also be effective.
From the information we have, it seems that the teacher assessed the work for content only. The only criteria stated pertain to presenting an effective argument in a persuasive piece. He wanted students to be able to choose a position, support it with three reasons, and provide details to explain their reasons. However, in teaching writing, it is reasonable to assume that the teacher would also consider the requirements for meeting state writing standards including composing, written expression, and usage and mechanics. Although, a classroom teacher is not qualified to diagnose dysgraphia, it certainly seems that this possibility would be brought to the attention of the appropriate child study team if it has not been previously addressed.
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