Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oh My! Access: One Teacher's Experience

This year I've been happy to feature a few guest bloggers - Sarita Rich, Roseann Markham and Cynthia Vandermieden - today I am pleased to copy and paste this unsolicited email from Lars Erickson of Oquirrh Hills Middle School. I always appreciate feedback, and it is particularly rewarding when it is POSITIVE.  Thanks, Lars, for granting permission to share your reflections about a recent experience with the MY Access,with other JSD teachers. 

Having just finished my [MYAccess] District Assessment, I was curious to see how my kids did so I took a look at some of the M.A. reports.  Like the District average [Renae] reported, my kids averaged 5.0.  That’s more impressive since I teach the “non-Honors” L.A. students.

I fully expected the scores to go down from previous essay averages due to the restricted time allowed and the editing tools having been removed.  Yet, when I compared the averages from the three persuasive essays the kids have done, I found that they were actually the same as this last assessment, hovering around 5.0.  That might not sound impressive, that perhaps they have not improved, but considering the class time and preparation invested, it blows my socks off.  The first essay used about seven to eight days of class time, the second essay required about five, but this last one was only TWO days of class time and was completely without any teacher-directed pre-writing, M.A. spell-checking or editing help.

With My Access’ help, my students have become “advanced proficient” writers who understand that their efforts in the arduous writing process pay off.  I’ve seen so many lights go on in kids’ eyes today, it’s hard to believe.  I have a handful of essentially non-writers that have decided that they can write and write well.  They have learned valuable writing skills for sure (organization, word choice, mechanics, conventions, etc.), but I think by far the most valuable lesson has been that their sustained effort on a difficult task provides tangible results.  In all the years I’ve taught, I have never seen this lesson learned so well and so obviously.

I credit My Access for giving me the authoritative and immediate feedback tools to help my kids learn this most valuable wisdom. ... The gains I have seen would not have happened without ... My Access.

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