Slice of Life 24: Parking Lot Assessment
By Janice Ewing
This morning I attended an informational session about the Being A Writer program, held at a hotel in Philadelphia. The presentation was interesting and interactive. It didn’t hurt that the setting was comfortable and a delicious breakfast was served. There were many aspects of the program that fit well with the philosophy of the National Writing Project, including the emphasis on building a writing community, the concept of teacher as writer, and the use of mentor texts as models of writers’ craft. One element of the program that I was interested in learning more about was assessment. I learned that in addition to individual assessments, there are whole class assessments that focus on the development of writing behaviors and habits within the writing community. The message seemed to be to look at individual students, of course, but to also look at one’s class as a whole and see how they’re developing as a community, then use this reflective data to plan instruction.
When the session was over, I walked back to the parking lot with two colleagues. Among other amenities, our parking slips had been validated to enable us to leave the hotel lot without paying a fee. As we walked and talked, sharing reactions to the morning, I rummaged through my purse to in search of the parking slip. It was one of those “I know it’s in here but I just can’t get my hands on it moments.” It was cold and windy (winter will not leave our area) and there was no convenient spot for the dump-and-search method. Identical folders in hand, we approached the parking lot attendant. I explained that I had been at the same event as my better-organized colleagues who had the same folder as well as validated parking slips. He smiled and said, “Sure, just go ahead.” We thanked him, wished him a good day, and went our separate ways. So what’s the connection? I didn’t have the right ticket, but I had clear evidence of membership in a community of learners, and that was good enough for a successful parking lot assessment!
* This “Slice of Life” post is part of a larger blog series, hosted by the blog site, Two Writing Teachers: A Meeting Place for a World of Reflective Writers.
Janice Ewing is an adjunct for Cabrini College and a co-director for the Pennsylvania Writing & Literature Project. Janice co-facilitates PAWLP’s “Continuity Days” and this blog. She is an avid reader and writer, and especially enjoys writing poems.