Dr. John Collins, Featured Blogger
By John Collins, Ed.D, Founder and Managing Director, Collins Education Associates
Question: You have spent your life talking about Focus Correction Areas (FCAs). Do you have a favorite FCA?
Response: My first guideline when thinking about what to evaluate in a paper is to start with content. What does the paper say? I’ve found that one of the best FCAs is to require students to use academic vocabulary when they are writing about an academic topic. Simply asking for “good content” or “substantive content” or “develop your ideas with details” is not enough for most students. But if I ask for an assignment that uses 12 out of 20 specific, carefully selected vocabulary words, spelled correctly, circled and numbered in the margin, I am giving students a very clear target, improving their diction, and helping define content rich writing in a way both sophisticated and unsophisticated writers can understand.
I like this FCA because it provides a perfect way to differentiate standards by adjusting the quota down for emerging writers and up for more capable writers. Asking students to circle the words and number them in the left hand margin of the paper makes grading very efficient. When I do demonstration lessons in schools and need to come up with a specific FCA fast, using specific academic vocabulary is always a good choice.
Here’s an example of a middle school math paper that uses this FCA.