Specifications Grading in Homeschooling

My wife and I homeschool are kids, and we joined a new homeschool group this year, Classical Conversations (CC). It has been great for us—it is not a perfect fit, but it is close.

It turns out that the CC uses something very similar Specifications Grading for writing. While the students aren’t graded, they are provided a checklist that looks suspiciously like Specifications. For instance, the students need to check that each sentence has the following.

  1. A subject
  2. A verb
  3. A capital letter
  4. An end mark
  5. Complete sense

Students are given the means to evaluate themselves for each sentence. They have similar checklists for writing—they ask for a topic sentence and concluding sentence (the “clincher”) for each paragraph, and give very specific instructions on how to create each (“The clincher should repeat or reflect two to three key words from the topic sentence.”).

I think that this is brilliant. It gives the students rigid rules (i.e. Specifications) to follow (that they can later break, once they get comfortable with writing) to both instruct them on what to do and to give them tools to evaluate their own writing. It is really cool to see this in action—it really does seem to help the students learn how to write.

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