7th Grade Writing TAKS Activities

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    Scoring Rubrics

    • There are four scoring levels on the TAKS writing test and within each are multiple areas of writing competence: coherence, organization, development of ideas, voice and conventions. To earn top marks on this test, Texas students must be able to write with correct spelling and grammar and fluid phrasing. Equally important, however, is the essay’s content. The essay must have a clear thesis and focus and its ideas must be laid out clearly and concisely with smooth transitions between paragraphs and points. Additionally, the writer must engage the reader through a thoughtful and enthusiastic narrative voice. As part of the test itself, students are required to both write a composition in response to a prompt and to revise and edit sample compositions.

    Assigning Prompts

    • This is where a teacher’s own initiative comes in. Texas requires that seventh graders include personal elements; the essay should draw readers in by communicating a scene. Writers need to tell the reader where the story takes place, who is featured in it, a purpose for the tale, as well as how the author or main character feels throughout the scene. Assign essay prompts for your seventh graders that allow them to communicate these feelings and ideas. Seventh graders are mature enough to write such an essay about a friend or family, or a significant event such as a birthday party, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, or a wedding or a funeral.

    Working the Development Process

    • Austin, Texas' Independent School District recommends preparing seventh graders for the TAKS exam by working on essays that the students have already started. The goal, according to Austin’s schools, should be to help students improve through the levels of scoring on the exam. To do this, the school district suggests breaking down your focus into the individual technical parts of the essay: a strong opening, development of ideas, a reflective conclusion and spelling and grammar. Spend a week developing an introduction that is enticing without revealing too much. Spend the next week focusing on communicating thoughts, feelings and place throughout the essay. Spend the third week on developing a conclusion that ties back to the introduction. The fourth week should be dedicated to spelling and grammar.

    Use Your Students’ Own Work

    • The best way to prepare your students for the revising and editing element of this exam is to provide plenty of opportunities for students to practice. Use your students’ own work in order to stimulate those students’ revision skills. Read these papers aloud to your class – anonymously, of course – and allow the class to critique the introduction, development, conclusion and grammar in your students’ papers. Make copies of these essays and pass them out to your students to allow them to critique each paper paragraph by paragraph. A student may be proud or encouraged upon seeing his or her own work chosen to present to the class. Additionally, the knowledge that their work may be made public will encourage students to revise their own work before submitting a final copy.

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