Language & Composition

Mr. Eure | Brewster High School

Bonus Round: The Formative Writing Process

This message is for archival purposes—but it also sets up the work we will be doing through the end of next week. Keep this in mind.

Today, I asked you all to submit the DAMAGES/C4 work you were assigned back in mid-November. A copy of the formative writing process is here, with the rest of our writing resources; you were given one in class on November 14th; or, if you like, you can click below to load another copy.

This was never a formal assignment, in that it was never going to be graded. But we spent time a very, very long time working on it. The three days before Thanksgiving were given over to this; then you had another day, Friday the 26th, to finish what you’d started. That’s because, as I tell you in the document itself, this ungraded, informal, formative assignment was always going to matter:

First, locate where we are in this cycle:

  1. Investment in formative work leads to
  2. success on summative work, which leads to
  3. an easier time parsing and processing summative scores and feedback, which leads to
  4. more productive collaborative and individual feedback looping, which leads to
  5. more effective metacognition and reflection, which leads to
  6. an easier time investing in formative work, which leads to
  7. greater success on summative work, and so on.

This is based on the philosophy articulated in our introductory materials—a philosophy I will again attempt to articulate next week or the week after. It is a cycle in which greater investment in the optional portions results in greater success on the required portions; on the other hand, failure to invest in each step, regardless of extrinsic motivators like checkpoint grades, leads to a cycle of stagnation and frustration.

That’s why the DAMAGES/C4 work for Singer was collected today as a bonus. As long as you get it to me in full by the end of the day, I will reward you magnificently. If you didn’t do this when you should have, nothing bad will happen to you, at least in terms of THE GRADEBOOK. Your choices should always have consequences, after all, but those consequences don’t always have to be punitive; sometimes, it ought to pay off unexpectedly that you did the right thing without an extrinsic motivation.

Of course, doing this formative work will pay off in your next writing assignment—that’s the whole point—so what we are really talking about is the currency of grades. Those of you who did the right thing are being rewarded twice. The rest of you need to let this be a lesson: Don’t waste opportunities to improve your skills.

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