Saturday, September 28, 2013

Common Core Writing

  Admittedly I am overly-consumed with the writing standards, but my job is coordinating our district's literacy  curriculum and our focus this year is implementing Common Core Writing.  Here's what I hope teachers know about the writing standards, not just because students will be ultimately assessed on these concepts, but also because these standards require students to write and develop their understanding of language.

    What writing looks like in the Common Core... 

  • The Common Core writing standards are comprised of ten anchor standards. 
  • Writing Anchor Standards:
    • Text Types & Purposes (W.1, W.2, W.3)
    • Production & Distribution of Writing (W.4,W.5, W.6)
    • Research to Build & Present Knowledge (W.7,W.8, W.9)
    • Range of Writing (W.10)
  • Within text types and purposes there are three writing types.  These writing types are referred to as "text" types. The writing text types are --narrative, informational, and opinion. Once students enter sixth-grade, the opinion writing shifts to argument writing because older students should be writing about debatable topics. In the Common Core Standards, students are expected to write within these text types routinely and for a range, or variety, of tasks, purposes and audiences (Range of Writing-Writing Standard 10).  
  • Students should be writing a lot. Students should have opportunities to do quick flash drafts in narrative, opinion and information pieces, as well as longer sustained research reports. The more that students can understand and appreciate that writing is an important way to communicate ideas and knowledge, the more success they will have as student writers.   This will ultimately help better prepare them for the college or workforce by making it easier to write as an adult writer within a range of writing applications like: drafting an email to a work colleague, the job application, the request for a day off, or the annual report.
  • Students should be writing on a keyboard.  Provide multiple opportunities for students, even our younger students, to compose drafts, generating ideas and take revised and edited drafts to publication whenever possible. If you are in a district that is fortunate to have computers students should be using those computers in writing whenever possible. Even third-graders will be taking the new assessments on-line and they will need to keyboard their responses. Our students need multiple opportunities to feel comfortable and successful on computers since the Common Core Assessments will be technology driven. For more information on this see Smarter Balanced Consortium for a sneak peek at some practice ELA assessments
  • Keep in mind, in the Common Core language and grammar do not live in the writing standards but they flourish in the language standards, another sub-section of the Common Core. By the time that students are fifth-graders, they should be proficient at the following writing mechanics skills using quotations, dashes, parentheses, commas, correct pronouns, and correct spelling.  This means that all of the other skills have to be mastered in earlier grades, as they are enumerated by the language standards. 
What does Common Core writing looks like in the classroom?
  • Students writing daily for extended periods of time 
    • Thirty to forty minutes independently writing depending on grade level
    • Teacher conferring with individuals or groups of students or leading small group instruction
  • Students writing for different purposes and audiences and in different text types...
    • Students identify their audience and the purpose of their piece for example-  a possible student response might be I'm writing an All About Skateboarding piece to teach my classmates about skateboarding
    • Teacher providing modeled instruction in all three text types: narrative, opinion, and information writing
  • Students planning, revising, editing, rewriting and publishing
    • Students cycle through the writing process 
    • Teacher provides writing workshop structure for students to learn the writing process
  • Students studying the work of authors and expert writers to learn a writer's craft and study literary devices
    • Students study the different text types of writing 
    • Teacher provides modeled instruction through the use of mentor texts or exemplar papers
  • Students receive modeled explicit instruction in order to develop and strengthen their writing
    • Students study writing strategies and skills 
    • Teacher provides demonstration and guided practice instruction of writing strategy and skills 
    • (I do, we do, you do model)
  • Students using technology to produce and publish pieces as well as gather information from digital sources to support their research reports
    • Students using computers in writing whenever possible
    • Teachers providing technology as a resource whenever possible in the classroom through the use of computer labs,  classroom computers,  tablets and ipads, electronic books for demonstration lessons etc.
  • Guiding Questions-
    • How will I increase the rate and rigor of writing in my classroom?
      What is the connection between reading and writing instruction?
    • How will I integrate the use of media?
In my role as District Literacy Coach, using the Lucy Calkins Common Core Writing Curriculum as a guide, writing workshop essentials, that reflect much of what I have mentioned above, were developed by myself and my team of elementary instructional coaches.  These essentials are a guiding tool for teachers to develop their writing workshop instructional best practices and for an excellent tool for administrators to guide them in conversations with teachers about the best practice writing instruction taking place in their classrooms. I hope to share more about these writing essentials in a future blog post. If you would like to know more about implementing writing workshop in your primary or intermediate classroom please check out my TpT store for mini lessons addressing the management and routines of writing workshop in primary and intermediate classrooms

We are no longer getting ready for the Common Core in schools across the nation. The Common Core is here.  This spring, many districts will be administering pilot tests and the more that we educators understand the CCSS, the better for all of our students. 

If other readers or bloggers have additions to make about what we should know about the writing standards, please share!

Happy Writing!


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