An infusion of technology is allowing teachers of all subjects to promote good writing.
Jeff Manelick, a health and physical education teacher at Youngsville High School, recently started using an online writing evaluation program known as Criterion. The Warren County School District has used the technology for several years, but the goal is to have all instructors use the system.
YHS Principal Dr. Darrell Jaskolka said he feels strongly about the initiative, and believes every teacher has the responsibility to teach reading and writing.
Times Observer photo by Colin Kyler
Ready to write
Caren Pence, left, discusses the writing program with Karissa Cratty, center, and Samuel Bubbenmoyer.
Instructional Teacher Coach Caren Pence said she has been working with the school's faculty for six years as they have implemented Criterion. It provides an assessment tool for students which can be especially important for juniors as they prepare for Pennsylvania System of School Assessment writing tests.
For classes not directly related to writing, Pence said, students are asked to write in order to show what they know about the subject. Those in Manelick's health class on Tuesday were asked to compare and contrast what they were like four years ago.
"It provides good, immediate feedback," Manelick said. "I feel like I can talk about the writing process better."
Freshman Samuel Bubbenmoyer likes how the program's assessments are based on PSSA grading. Freshman Karisssa Cratty feels it's a good source since she gets feedback faster.
Criterion helps expand vocabulary, Cratty said, and prevents students form using the same words all of the time. It picks up on grammar usage as well, Bubbenmoyer said, in addition to conventional errors.
Still, Manelick conceded, there are some glitches. The program may not recognize some proper nouns and writing topics can be limited.
For topics to be offered, Pence said Criterion needs a large enough pool to judge them by. Limitations are further set by the scoring system used, Manelick noted, since Pennsylvania uses a four-point scoring system while many others uses a six-point system.
Still, the practice it provides and the variety of subjects it can be used with means Criterion could play an important role in teaching students about writing.