This was a multi-day project. We started out by writing a response to the EQAO prompt from last year: would you rather live in a small town, a large city, or the countryside? Write a detailed paragraph explaining your choice.
Students gave it their best effort with no lead up to the task.
Next, we went through the EQAO scoring rubric as a class, and students worked in small groups to review each of the exemplars for each level and evaluate them, giving them a level and defending their choice using the scoring rubric. What was interesting was that students struggled with this task. There was much debate and groups ended up coming to different conclusions. The only level where students all agreed was the level 4 exemplar.
Following that, we went through each of the exemplars as a class beginning with level 4 as this was the one students were sure about. We then went to level 1 and worked back up to level 3. Students expanded upon their ideas about which level each one deserved and why. We then looked at what EQAO had to say. Finally, we worked as a group to make improvements upon what the exemplar students had written.
Finally, they revisited their own writing to make it even better. Most of their writing showed improvements, the most common being introductory and concluding sentences. Some of the students recognized the need for more detail and added that. They all improved spelling and grammar, despite that not being our focus. A few made such impressive improvements that they jumped up two levels in quality!
Finally, I put together a bulletin board to showcase our work. The most detailed group to assess the exemplars is there, along with the rubric/assignment in the middle. Since the goal was to improve our writing and bring it up to at least a level 3, the work on the edges represents the students who made the best/most revisions, improving their writing in ways beyond a couple of superficial spelling changes. The next step will be working on organization.
(Note: In Ontario, level 3 is considered meeting the curriculum expectations. Level 4 involves doing so in a more sophisticated way. Level 2 demonstrates some understanding and level 1 is limited understanding.)