New writing tool outlined for Plymouth School Board

Dave cary Review Correspondent

PLYMOUTH – One area where Plymouth High School is developing what may turn out to be a cutting edge teaching tool is writing.

The “tool” is a writing assessment, a procedure that helps analyze a student’s writing progress in a way that is objective and helps see to it that writing samples from different students are looked at for the same things.

This analysis, of course, lets the student know how he or she is doing and why – but also can tell the teacher precisely where the student needs more work; it can be used to pass this information on to another teacher or be used when evaluating district writing teaching overall.

Dr. Jennifer Rauscher, PHS principal, and Claire Emley, PHS literacy coach, reviewed progress on the assessment.

Rauscher said the assessment is a system that defines what type of writing – exposition, narrative, etc. – is under consideration, then calls for analysis of the writing sample by looking at the content the writing presents in specific ways. Major things looked for in all grades are topic-introducing language, followed by additional facts about the topic and a sense of closure. As the writers get older, more is looked at, such as use of specific vocabularies of the field under discussion as well as grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. The assessment asks for how much evidence there is for each of these.

Rauscher said that developing this assessment will also tend to keep the assessment a local entity. The district will pilot use of the assessment in the spring, review results in the summer with further professional development, then implement it widespread in the fall.

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In his report, board President Tim St. Clair said he was pleased that the partnership between PHS and TruNorth Inc., of Plymouth, had gone beyond stuby dents benefiting from industry. In this instance, PHS had used data supplied by TruNorth to produce threedimensional blueprints TruNorth used to make critical parts of a pump prototype. The finished product has sold well for the company.

St. Clair said he wondered whether his “old” company – Johnson Control of Milwaukee – couldn’t partner with PHS to develop better ways of storing electric power, which would be a benefit to wind- and solar-generated power alike.

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The board accepted five donations:

• $250 from Bedford Underwriters to help offset the cost of the Physics Day event in Gurnee, Ill., last year.

• $250 from Assessment Partnerships for the same purpose.

• $322.44 from Parkview PTK for student field trip transportation.

• $1,000 to be used for a printer in the art room and a bass xylophone at Horizon Elementary School. This donation is from Jill Rooker in memory of Tom Hintz.

• $3,400 from RAPT to Riverview Middle School to help offset costs of student field trips.

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In other matters, the board accepted the resignation request of Daphne Peterson, special education teacher at Riverview Middle School, effective at the end of this school year. Peterson has taught in the district for 23 years.

Superintendent Carrie Dassow told the board that student Shannon McKee had written a book in her writing class that was now available on the Internet from Amazon at 99 cents. Dassow said she had purchased a copy, but her Kindle wasn’t working so she hadn’t been able to read it as yet. The book is titled “Black Light.”

Board member Richard York, board liaison to the Community Education program, told the board that an intriguing new offering to the adult ed classes this year is one titled “Cheesemaking at Home.”

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