Data – Looking at writing samples of ELL students

Research question:  How can I use technology to increase ELL speaking and writing skills?


Collecting Data:  Once I have collected student writing samples I need to decide what information I am going to look at.  


Students:  I decide to look at writing samples of 5 level 3-4 ESL students, 2 of whom are on IEPs.  


What is the Purpose of my Research?


Feeling a little overwhelmed I decided to focus primarily on the purpose of using information I gather to inform and improve my teaching.  My question “to increase skills” is very vague.  In order to look at data I need to be more specific about what this means.  How can I focus on what to look at in writing skills?  What do I THINK I taught my students and did they show they learned it?


Over the course of the year we have focused on 3 genres:  Narrative, Opinion, and Literary Analysis.  I decided just to focus on Narrative.


What have we taught – and what did students learn?


Over the course of the year as we teach narrative our focus is on teaching students to include “DAFT” – Dialogue, Action, Feelings, and Thoughts.   In addition we worked on adding descriptions and onomatopoeia.    Also, I want some way to measure the use of more academic vocabulary.    And I decide to count the number of sentences students use.


The Data:  


Project 1:   Writing a section of the story of Goldilocks from the Goldilocks point of view, after doing oral “Interviews with Goldilocks” on in Book Creator on the IPADs.   This was a hand-written assignment.


Student Dialogue Actions Feelings Thoughts Onomonopeia Description Sentences Vocab
A* 3 5 10 12 3
B 1 7 2 6 17 10
C* 1 6 6 6 4
D 2 1 8 12 3
E* 5 2 5 8 7


Project 2:   Rewriting a Fairy Tale from a new perspective.  There was no oral activity before writing.  This was a hand-written assignment.  


Dialogue Actions Feelings Thoughts Onomonopeia Description Sentences Vocab
A* 18 2 2 2 26 6
B 3 9 1 11 6
C* 3 13 2 2 25 5
D 4 2 2 1 4 18 9
E* 2 6 3 1 1 13 7


Reactions to the Data

  • More writing included Actions
  • There was more description in the first activity that included a speaking activity.
  • There was more dialogue in the second activity
  • More than half of the sentences do not include academic vocabulary.  
  • Even though we talked a lot about Onomonopeia, students used it very little.
  • There was an increase in Dialogue in the second assignment.  The student who used significantly more dialogue had a lot more sentences overall.  

Next Steps

Use technoloty to Increase use of DAFT

  • Use the next narrative task to have students use Chromebooks to type so we can focus on revision more and include DAFT as a rubric.

Use technology to Increase Academic Vocabulary

  • Find ways to provide examples of academic vocabulary students can use – an example might be providing a word bank on a Google classroom document for writing so it is easily visible.
  • Narrative writing about a Social Studies topic may provide more opportunities for strong vocabulary than Narrative writing about Fairy Tales.   
  • Try using Google Read Write to say sentences with vocabulary before writing.

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