A couple of months ago, I received lots of sage advice from @dentlerp, @Lisa_Scumpieru, @kallgood, and @david about using Formative to set up an analytical paper for mixed general education and special education students: Using Formative to scaffold a formal paper?The kids have been writing their papers for the last week and a half; their rough draft is due Tuesday. The whole process has been much less stressful than I remember our analytical paper being last year. That may be partially because I changed the assignment, but I think Formative gets the most credit.
Here’s what I have heard from the kids:
“I like writing my paper by answering questions and then pasting everything into paragraphs. It’s easier.”
“The links in the questions help me understand.”
“It’s good to have everything in one place, so I don’t lose stuff.”
“I like having examples right in the questions.”
“I look at the colors on the top of the screen to see how I did.”
“This isn’t as overwhelming as just writing a paper.”
The quality of the students’ analyses has improved, too: most of them are thinking hard and working to express themselves clearly. (Some are slacking, of course. Formative can’t work miracles.) Although they still dislike essays, they are noticeably less miserable and more interested in their work than I have come to expect when we do writing assignments. (If you worry that “less miserable and more interested” is faint praise, please do visit my classes sometime. )
So this is my thank you note to the Formative Team and Community. Thank you for designing a platform that convinces students to attempt their best work. Thank you for continually improving it. Most of all, thank you for helping me to keep my promise when I tell a student: “You can do this because you have interesting things to say. No, I don’t care how badly you failed at this last year. You are going to do just fine now, and I will help you.” I could make good on that without Formative, but it would be much, much harder.