National Writing Project

Honoring Dialect and Culture: Pathways to Student Success on High-Stakes Writing Assessments

By: Michelle Crotteau
Publication: English Journal
Date: March 2007

Summary: When a speaker of Appalachian English fails the state's writing assessment, Michelle Crotteau, a teacher-consultant with the Central Virginia Writing Project, demonstrates that appropriate strategies and respect for home language allows for both authentic writing and successful test preparation.



The word lists also gave me an idea for the next writing prompt, an invented scenario: "The County Board of Supervisors is considering a ban on hunting because of residential growth within the county limits. Do you agree that hunting should be banned? Why or why not?" The students immediately voiced their opinions with a chorus of, "They ain't stoppin' me from huntin'!" I reminded them that the scenario was not real and urged them to write a list of all the ideas going through their minds. "Put that on the paper!" was my response to every comment. Bucky wrote the following verbs on his brainstorm list in AE: There is too many deer; There be too many accidents; Hunting season aint but only 4–6 months out of the year except coyote, skunk. I wrote out the standard verb forms on his brainstorm list, and he revised the verbs as he was drafting.

Copyright © 2007 by the National Council of Teachers of English. Posted with permission.

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