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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

Freshmen take new series of Writing Process exams

New+assememts+are+being+instituted+to+track+a+THHS+Freshmen%E2%80%99s+progress+within+their+Writing+Process+classes+
New assememts are being instituted to track a THHS Freshmen’s progress within their Writing Process classes
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All freshmen at Townsend Harris High School take Writing Process, an additional English course,  meant to train students to write successfully in all THHS courses. This year, all students are taking three new exams – a fall diagnostic, a winter midterm, and a spring final – that teachers will use to more formally track student progress in the course.

A Writing Process (WP) teacher team met and worked together to write the diagnostic exam at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year. All students took the same test, and the team then analyzed the data from the diagnostic exam to gain insight into the students’ core writing skills and topics and tailored the writing process curriculum accordingly, according to English teacher Ryan Dunbar, who is part of the team.

After adjusting the curriculum, all WP teachers spent the fall teaching lessons related to the topics their students needed the most work in. This work culminated in a midterm in January to examine the impact of their efforts. All freshmen took the midterm during the January Regents Week. 

“The midterm exam was an opportunity for us to see whether or not students were improving as a result of the interventions we had made over the course of the first semester,” Mr. Dunbar said. “We are very happy to report that grades increased substantially from the diagnostic to the midterm exam as a result of the excellent teaching here.”

As the school year progresses, the WP team remains focused on refining their strategies to further support students. Spring lessons and a June final exam will build upon the data the team got from the midterm. 

Freshman Safir Azad said, “I really felt like the WP midterm was helpful. Because of it, I knew what skills I needed to work on to improve my writing, and so did my teachers.”

“After getting the grade back from this test, I knew what was needed of me so I could excel in my WP class, and I studied accordingly,” said freshman Ivan Li.

Freshman  Mathew Chen shared his insights on the preparation for the midterm. “The WP class covered a lot of ground throughout the semester, and I think that helped us get ready for the midterm. We went through different writing styles, grammar rules, and had practice assignments that sort of mimicked what we faced in the actual test.”

Another freshman, Raida Chowdhury, highlighted the curriculum’s focus on grammar: “In the diagnostic exam, I realized that I struggled with certain grammatical aspects, and the curriculum really dove into those areas,” she said. “We had targeted lessons, exercises, and feedback sessions that made a big difference. So, by the time the midterm rolled around, I felt way more confident with those aspects, and I could see the improvement in my writing.”

WP teachers said that the process has helped them better adjust their teaching to address the capabilities of their students.

“In my class, there is a diversity of students, each having great and amazing and yet different capabilities of their own,” said English teacher Aseefa Rasool. “This midterm helped me identify each and every different capability of my students when it comes to writing. I then knew what each of them had to improve on, and where they stood intellectually firm.”

This year’s work to add greater depth to the WP curriculum comes alongside other efforts by the English Department to add a greater emphasis on the teaching of writing. Starting this year, all students had the opportunity to join one of three different writing-centered programs within the school’s new “Writers Academy.” Upperclassmen who joined the program will have the opportunity this spring to apply for membership in honors societies that relate to their programs. Successfully completing the WP curriculum counts as one part of the qualification process for getting into the programs’ respective honors societies. 

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    Kathleen Schuckel AndrewsMar 15, 2024 at 5:54 pm

    Dear Malek,

    This is an insightful article. Thank you for writing it so well. I am a journalist and former high school English teacher, and I am going to share your story with teachers at our excellent local high school, North Central, in Indianapolis. Educators there prioritize writing instruction but not as much as Townsend Harris does through this strategic, purposeful program. My compliments to the entire Classic staff for all the good work you do!

    Sincerely,
    Kathleen Schuckel Andrews

    Reply