Writing Graphs

Progress graph, Progress monitoring

Writing graphs are a tool that students use to measure writing progress over time, reflect on their progress, and provide motivation to continue writing, which leads to improving ease, fluency, and quality of writing. To effectively use writing graphs, teachers should use structured prompts and other supports to inspire students to write daily or on a routine, sustained basis. Writing can be measured by word count or self, peer, or teacher rubric ratings, recorded in tables, then mapped on a graph to show progress over time. This strategy should be used with a whole class, starting at any point during the year. Both writing quality and quantity should be encouraged. Increasing quantity helps students become more fluent, productive writers. This strategy visually represents writing progress and focuses on individual growth. Reflecting on progress motivates students by acknowledging progress and perseverance, leading to continued writing in the future.

Implementation Tips

Introducing Writing Graphs
Generate excitement when introducing writing graphs. Use real student data in a table and model creating a line graph using colorful pencils or markers for each data point. Start with an easy-to-create graph. Include word count on the vertical axis and the dates on the horizontal axis.
All Kinds of Progress
Show progress on multiple graphs for different purposes. Create graphs for each week, month, quarter, or the whole school year. Writing quality (determined by rubric, assessed by teacher or self) and word count could be on separate graphs or in different colors on the same graph.
Increasing Word Count
Set realistic individual and class-wide word count goals for daily journal writing to motivate increased word count. Limit judgment by skipping letter grades for the writing graph and reward participation. Write daily to exercise writing muscles. Vary structured prompts with open-ended freewriting inspired by images or instrumental music.
Developing Routines
Prepare students to write daily or routinely in dedicated journals. Before writing, assemble the word count table, pencils, and graph. Record the date and word count right after they finish writing. Add a data point to the graph or wait until the end of the week or month.
Discuss Graphs and Strategies in Writing Conferences
Graph student progress for the student during individual writing conferences and discuss their growth and how it is represented on the graph. Analyze obstacles (e.g., “I can’t get started.” Provide student with sentence starters) and inspirational strategies (Provide choice with interest-based, individually tailored prompts).
Analyze Writing Quality
Enhance writing quality using structured prompts and rubrics. The support embedded in a prompt will provide direction and improve writing quality. Create a separate graph with the date on the x-axis and rubric score on the y-axis. Use a rubric to rate revised drafts or final projects, not first drafts.
Use Technology Tools for Graphing
Use Excel, Word, or [[ | online tools]] to enter the data in a table and create graphs. Students will learn computer literacy skills while mapping progress. Invite the technology teacher to co-teach in the computer lab. Practice first, write step-by-step directions, or use graphs with a large grid for younger students.


Designing Writing Graphs
The teacher distributes a [[ | table]] for recording word count/dates and explains, *“We’ll use this table to record your word count each week. At the end of the month, we’ll create a graph to analyze progress.”* The teacher models creating a sample graph,including 5-10 dates, depending on how often students respond to writing graph prompts. The [[ | sample graph]] will include enough data points to illustrate a trend, such as Sept 1, Sept 8, etc. for 5 data points. The word count ranges on the y-axis will depend on how much time students have to write or their grade level.
Introducing Writing Graphs: Process and Purpose
A teacher introducing the purpose of writing graphs says: *”We are going to exercise our writing muscles by writing daily in our journals. Sometimes we will do freewriting, where we write in response to an open-ended prompt, listen to a song, or become inspired by a visual image like a photo or artwork. Other times, we might respond to a more structured prompt. At the end of each week, we will check the word count for our writing, record data in a table, and create a writing graph. Writing graphs will show us our progress in increasing our writing stamina.”*
Conferencing Around Writing Graphs
A teacher and student discuss writing graphs and student progress during a writing conference. The teacher asks, “What do you notice about your graph?” “How much did your word count increase?” “Did your writing begin to feel easier over the month? Why or why not?” In a more structured conference, the teacher might comment, “I noticed that over the last month, you have increased your word count. What do you think helped you write more?” If needed, the teacher could suggest strategies to increase writing productivity, such as using sentence starters, word banks, or multimedia (music/photos to inspire writing).

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