Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Charade of Prompt Writing

A quick thought I posted on FB:

Most writing in today's schools is prompt writing. This is typically worthless writing because the student had no input in the topic, etc. Prompt after prompt after prompt wears on a child's soul.

And when students aren't engaged, the student work you are looking at is WORTHLESS. Without engagement, the student work is not authentic - these writing prompts, etc. do not demonstrate what the child is truly capable of doing. When someone asks me to look at a child's piece of writing, the first thing I ask is - did this child choose the topic? If the child has no ownership in the topic, I already know that the sample is most likely not the child's best work and therefore it is a waste of time to evaluate it.

Yet, we have teachers determining teaching points based on poor writing samples. Therefore, any teaching points created as a result of these evaluations are low level and worthless. What's left? Mediocre teaching that produces mediocre learning that is not engaging and not even close to what the children are capable of. This is what top-down high stakes standards bring us. Mediocrity. Dis-engaged learners. And a bunch of teachers out there running on that hamster wheel keeping busy and quiet just like they want us to be - while the walls crumble down around us. Such a flipping charade. All of it.

So - parents - rule #1 - when your child brings home a piece of writing - ask them - did they choose that topic? And if not, is there any purpose whatsoever to the writing? Expose the charade.


  1. Writing Prompts caused the Opt Out movement for this family.

    1. Indebted to you for that action. Woke me up from my reverie.

  2. You know all this practice writing for the tests?

    I just saw this comment on another blog and it hit home.

    "Narrative-style tests will be scored by random folks, with any kind of a degree, who respond to Craigslist help wanted ads. It’s a highly selective, finely tuned operation. You’d think you’d want written tests scored by skilled writers, but you’d be wrong."

    So this is the audience for our children's writing these days.