University of Minnesota
minnesota writing project
center for writing

Minnesota Writing Project.Center for Writing's home page.

Anna Barker

© 2002

Action Research:

Research Plan for How to Help Students Be More Successful on Writing Tests
Goal: found in Title.

Research Strategies
: Visit with Experts in the Field (below) and do a web search for resources and materials.

Primary Sources: Micheal (no typo in his first name - he's Scottish) Thompson, Language Arts Specialist, Minnesota Department of Children, Families & Learning; phone (651)582-8312, email: and MurielThompson Co-Director of the Minnesota Writing Project:
These two people (are they related? in spirit, certainly!) are incredible sources for the most up-to-date state writing assessments and materials that will help teachers help their students be successful on them.

Secondary Sources: People who are "in the field" are not publishing research as much as they are publishing books FOR SALE. An internet search on "writing tests" (which is ambiguous to all search engines used - writing is used both as a verb. . . see SAT test-taking, et al) and as an adjective, the way I wanted it used before test); hence, there were one million six hundred ten thousand results shared on AOL and 290 titles of books I wanted to buy to use at Crosswinds Middle School just on the Barnes and Noble site alone!

Main Findings Synthesized in following Two Haiku:
The Plan
More time, Money, Time
to distill what's out there for
research on writing.
Then, TaDa! Let the
Writing Process begin! Yay!
Write more.

Results that may be useful for other teachers:

• Assess your current strengths as a school in relation to the MCA's and BST's. Build on those and try to find how to apply them to weaknesses.
• Read the MN Writing Project Research pieces already published.
• Come visit Crosswinds and see a lab school for best practices
• Search the web and get PTSA (or its equivalent in your school) to fund more professional books and conference attendance for you and your colleagues. There really is nothing new under the sun. What we know works, works. Money and time for professional development, and more writing that leads to more writing - regularly and with editing - are the tickets to success on achievement tests for students.

Carry on!

Creative writing:

A Pleasure to Be Sad*

for those we love
can’t always be happy
life’s not like that
traffic again
the new wastebasket doesn’t fit under the sink
weather changes faster than people
why is it so hard to share?
only when we’re ready to quit do we tell that it’s time to go
the teacher in Florida said it’s so, that her students can’t write more than four
or was it three ideas in one piece – not standardized, no seamless fit they say
I say phooey
Good Writing will always be Good Writing
institutional seams, biased and nap down, unbasted and with their feed dogs
frayed only need grommets inserted so that carabeaners can be snapped into
place, waiting for rows and rows of students, like mountain climbers up to
Everest, going because it HAS been done and yet awaits new generations to do
again and again, each facing its own challenges and climate changes.
For those we love, it is a pleasure to be sad and cry at night when the day was
rough because we care enough to continue the climb, knowing that the
journey IS the destination. So what if the wastebasket doesn’t fit under the
sink. Take it back. Get a different one. Keep the sink. Throw out less.
What a fine mess we’re in when weather changes faster than people and we
can no longer share what’s really important. It’s not the ideas; it’s the sharing.

* Written in response to Stratton, Lynn. “Taught to Remove All Thought.” St. Petersburg Times 7 July 2002.