Thursday, July 11, 2013

Teaching With the Common Core Standards - Book Club - Summary - Chapter 5 - Writing Standards

This chapter, authored by Steve Graham, focuses on the Common Core State Standards for Writing. He begins by giving some context to the current state of writing instruction in most schools, concluding that in order to meet the CCSS writing instruction must drastically change for most schools.
The Writing Standards make two broad assumptions:
1) Students will master described skills within the school year. 
2) Students' writing will increase in sophistication and their application of learned skills will increase as they master these skills. 

The standards are centered around four applications of skills in writing:
1) Text Types and Purposes - This includes writing for numerous purposes.
2) Production and Distribution of Writing - This includes creating and sharing text that is well-organized and appropriate to the assigned task by using planning, revising, editing, and collaboration.
3) Research to Build and Present Knowledge - This includes "using writing to recall, organize, analyze, interpret, and build knowledge about a topic..." (p. 88).
4) Range of Writing - This includes differing text task lengths to encourage learning across other disciplines such as science, and social studies, as well as varying audiences.
Graham does note that this are also depended upon the ability of students to record their ideas in a variety of ways including handwriting and electronic means as well as being able to using spelling and grammar correctly, form sentences correctly, and make appropriate word choices to convey meaning.

 The next part of the chapter acknowledges that while there is theoretical and empirical support for having writing standards there are concerns including underestimating the abilities of some groups of students as well as vagueness in explanation of certain of the standards and expectations at each grade level. After expressing his concerns the author then recommends the use of "tested and expert evidence-based practices."

The CCSS in Writing for grades 3 - 5 state that students should be writing for three purposes: to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. They are to "write in a planful, thoughtful, reflective, and collaborative manner." They are also expected to write in support and analyses of other content areas. As the standards are set the basic standard does not vary from grade to grade, however the elements within that basic standard do change between grades. The book then shows in tables these similarities and differences. This applied across all four applications of writing that were listed above.  Additionally, several teaching vignettes are shared to demonstrate some of the practices the author suggests are effective in teaching writing to students in these intermediate grades.

Graham feels that Range of Writing is the that is weakest standard in terms of necessary specificity. It stands that students will do both short and more lengthy writing exercises across content areas but it lacks any real guidelines. He suggests that some of these pieces of writing would include student note taking, question creation, completion of graphic organizers, and summaries, as well as lengthier pieces where students "personalize, apply, and analyze" the things they read. He also states the importance of writing in the subjects of math, social studies, and science. Writing in these areas requires students to make decision about what information is important, what the consequences of actions are, and how to organize and present the information students find. Doing this forces students to deal in greater depth with the materials they are presented and therefore encourages greater comprehension and synthesis of the information.

Links to the previous chapters can be found here:

No comments:

Post a Comment