Common Core Standards
From my latest newsletter:
I'll admit it. I'm excited about the Common Core. Why? Here are just a handful of reasons:
1. It's both developmental and demanding, honoring the abilities of children at each grade level, but requiring compositions that demonstrate a deeper understanding of craft and purpose.
2. It recognizes that writing is as important as reading, and that the two are interdependent. The very best way to ensure that your students meet the ambitious reading standards is to encourage them to read like writers. In other words, the more they write and think about writing, the better they'll be at analyzing texts. (And the more they analyze texts, the better writers they'll become.)
3. The CCSS support a Writer's Workshop model, recognizing that students need regular writing time, immediate feedback, and audience (author's chair and true publication).
4. With its emphasis on three styles of writing at every grade level, schools can determine which genres will be taught under each style, thus ensuring a balance between narrative and expository writing, a common language throughout the school, and a curriculum that builds from one year to the next.
Below are three ways you might prepare for implementation of the Core Curriculum writing standards this summer.
Preparing to Teach the Writing Standards
1. Examine the sample student writing in Appendix C of the CCSS. How do these samples compare to the writing your students accomplished this year? Record a list of skills students will need to achieve the level of success modeled in these samples. Explore units of study or mini-lessons that will help your students acquire these skills. (However, do not grasp for formulas. Teaching formulas creates formulaic writing, and students need a deeper, truer understanding of what makes fine writing in order to succeed with the Common Core.)
2. Compare the reading standards to the writing standards. Notice where there is overlap and explore ways in which you could help students to connect them. For example, how could you combine the teaching of this second grade reading standard:
RI.2.8. Describe how reasons support specific points the author makes in a text
With this second grade writing standard:
W.2.2. Write informative/explanatory texts in which [students] introduce a topic, use facts and definitions to develop points, and provide a concluding statement or section.
3. Search for mentor texts that will allow you to focus on these skills. One book I frequently recommend is Ice Bear: In the Steps of a Polar Bear by Nicola Davies. Davies writes, "No frost can steal a polar bear's heat," and then goes on to tell why with fascinating reasons/evidence. It's a wonderful read aloud and it inspires students to write informational pieces with more voice.