A report from Carnegie Corporation of New York, released a week ago by the Alliance for Excellent Education, lays out the evidence that properly done formative assessments help students become better writers.
Informing Writing: The Benefits of Formative Assessment is written by Steve Graham, Karen R. Harris, and Michael Hebert of Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education. These folks not only research well, but their writing is a pleasure to read. Download a free copy.
Writing for learning is a topic dear to my heart. English teachers who work with teens and adults are notably behind teachers in other disciplines in their use of writing prompts (formal and informal) as tools for teaching content in their discipline. One would think there are no topics in the English curriculum worth writing about except literature.
I hope this new Carnegie Corporation report will encourage English and composition teachers to try informal writing in their classrooms.
[Edited 3/1/2014 to remove links to materials no longer available on the Internet.]