Georgia 7th graders complete 33 writing assignments a year

Jana Bennett Jana Bennett   |   July 11, 2016

Jeff Pence teaches English Language Arts to five classes of seventh-graders at Dean Rusk Middle School in Canton, GA. His concerns and challenges about how he can do the best job for his 129 students are shared by most ELA teachers in America.

“If the only way to learn how to write is to write, then how do we increase performance and productivity without sacrificing accuracy and thoroughness?”

Finding the time to teach and provide timely feedback on students’ writing had always been tough.

“When your students turn in a draft of an essay, how long is it before you give them back? A day, two days—a week? We have about two hours a day when we can sit down and actually do grading…you see where we’re going here.”

Now, with achievement scores driving everything, Jeff also needed data that would show that he students were improving enough to meet strict new performance standards.

Time wasn’t the only resource in limited supply. “When I sit down to grade papers, once I get up to number 62, I’m not quite what I was at number 1, and when I get up to 102…I’m going to miss things.”

Jeff wondered if there might be a technological solution that could help.

“Our students are digital natives. we must embrace the technology or we’re going to get left behind.”

Several years ago, Jeff started using WriteToLearn—an online writing tool from Pearson.

Astonishing results, corroborated by data

This past school year, WriteToLearn made it possible for Jeff’s students to complete 33 essays and summary writing assignments.

Once an assignment was submitted, WriteToLearn was able to provide the student with feedback immediately, so they could begin revisions. Jeff’s students submitted 25,542 drafts that were thoroughly evaluated, and provided specific feedback that was absolutely consistent.

“I couldn’t get the staff at my school to grade this many essays,” Jeff says, adding that even if he could find the staff, they couldn’t match WriteToLearn’s accuracy.

“The computer doesn’t miss a comma. It doesn’t miss a run-on sentence.”

Since Jeff began teaching with WriteToLearn, he’s seen his students’ writing skills improve significantly—across the board.

The wonderful thing is, Friday afternoon, before I went home—

the grades for these essays were in the gradebook.

I didn’t take any papers home.

“There’s no way that could happen without technology.”

Hear Jeff tell how he does it at Pearson booth at ISTE

In Jeff’s presentation, WriteToLearn: A Teacher’s Perspective, he tells how incorporating WriteToLearn into his lesson plans has greatly increased his effectiveness—and you can get the same results.

Jeff will be at the Pearson booth throughout the conference to answer questions. His presentations are always popular and lively, so be sure you’re there!

Presentation times:

Monday, June 27 at 9:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m.

Tuesday, June 28 at 11:30 a.m.


Pearson Booth #2306