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As this school year winds down and educators start thinking about planning for the next, we want to share a few tips on how to take advantage of our newest Spot Check and Expansion Pack assignments throughout the year.

Spot Check

Students respond to a prompt without any feedback in these assignments. Only teachers see their students' automatic, numerical scores based on our rubrics.

  1. Get a baseline of student writing skills at the beginning of the year or unit of study. Once students complete a Spot Check prompt, educators instantly see each student's initial strengths and weaknesses. Use this data to evaluate student readiness and plan targeted instruction.
  2. Assess student learning at the end of a unit (or any period of time!). Spot Check assignments can serve as post assessments to determine whether students achieved desired learning goals. Combine the first idea and this one together and use Spot Check assignments as pre- and post-assessments -- check out this sample 9-week roadmap for using Spot Check assignments.
  3. Provide more practice for the SAT®, ACT®, and other high stakes writing assessments. Give students 40-50 minutes to complete a Spot Check prompt during class -- this mirrors the type of writing tasks on the official tests. Our source-based Analysis and Argumentative prompts are particularly helpful in preparing for the SAT® and ACT®.

Expansion Pack
Expansion Pack provides writing prompts featuring universal content and standards-aligned rubrics without any automated feedback. Unlike Spot Check (and Signal Check) assignments, writing is not scored.

  1. Decode a writing prompt. This is especially appropriate for the beginning of the year, but can be done anytime. Ask your students to respond to a prompt, and print their essays. In pairs, small groups or as a class, highlight key elements of the prompt in different colors (blue = claim, pink = evidence, etc.). Then, have students identify those elements in their own essays using the same color scheme. They'll be able to see which parts of the prompt they've covered or missed.
  2. Give feedback by peer reviewing essays. Assign students a writing prompt and then print their essays. Working in pairs or small groups, students exchange their essays with each other. Students review their partner's essay according to our rubric and then revise their own essay in Expansion Pack composition space based on peer feedback.
  3. Target building organization skills. Have students respond to a prompt then print their essays. Ask them to cut their individual essays into sentence strips. In pairs or small groups, students should move around the pieces of their essays into the most effective organizational patterns. Consider making a bank of common transitional words on different colored paper for students to insert into their essays to help with cohesion.

Want more ideas for how to use Expansion Pack? Explore additional activities created by our curriculum team.


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