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Educational Records Bureau

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In a world that limits writing responses to 140 characters or less, it can be difficult for kids to develop effective writing skills. Texting quick messages, tweeting about a vacation, and commenting on your best friend’s latest Facebook post are not activities that promote thoughtful and clear communication. And the process of writing an essay is time consuming. Developing prompts, brainstorming organization, scoring, editing, revising - each step can take days of work - for both the student and the parent. The result is usually a frustrated parent, an overwhelmed student, and very little improvement.

Writing Practice Program (WPP) is an online program that develops writing skills for students in grades 3-12. Using the program tools, students learn to think about their essay writing both comprehensively and objectively. Students write on grade-level prompts in one of three categories: Narrative, Informative, and Argumentative. Your child’s writing is instantly analyzed using an essay-scoring algorithm, which also automatically modifies the criteria according to grade. The platform is designed to engage kids in all the steps of the writing process, from brainstorming to assessment analysis and revisions.

Students begin the writing process by choosing a graphic organizer that is recommended by the program based on the type of writing prompt. Beginning with brainstorming, WPP encourages clear presentation and organization - the foundations to successful writing. Several graphic organizers, such as characterization charts and venn diagrams, are used in pre-writing activities. Like all elements of the program, the graphic organizers are very user-friendly and they help kids with the daunting task of translating their internal thoughts into written words.

The prompts used in WPP are carefully crafted by experts in teaching and writing assessment and are closely aligned to current learning standards. Both non-stimulus and stimulus prompts are used, including stimulus material with text references and videos. Some prompts provide multimedia stimulus material with an option to complete more complex performance tasks. Hundreds of prompts are currently available, with more written each year.

Essays are scored using the new 6-trait, 5-point rubrics, including criteria for Development of Ideas, Organization, Style, Sentence Structure, Word Choice, and Conventions. Students receive instant feedback, and the program offers all the tools, resources, and support they need to inform the revision process. The scoring report includes analysis of the essay for purpose and audience and is incredibly student-specific, with targeted feedback on the strengths and weaknesses in each writing category evaluated. Students are offered links to trait-specific tutorials based on where improvements are needed. Also, the student response is returned with editing markups and feedback embedded into the essay - making it easy for kids to begin the revision process.

The best part of WPP is the unlimited opportunities for students to practice different kinds of writing. The cycle of brainstorming, drafting, analyzing, and revising a written response is an essential process that must be practiced repeatedly. Students are able to identify the strengths of their writing and are provided with the tools and resources they need to address any weaknesses. And all of the student's writing is stored in a personal portfolio, tracking their writing progress over time.

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