(Wiping sweat from brow.)
All right, let's finish these writing anchor standards.
W.CCR.10 — that's the 10th (and final!) College and Career Readiness anchor standard within the Writing strand of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA/Literacy — reads as follows:
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Just as R.CCR.10, the reading anchor standard that calls for grade-appropriate text complexity, is a kind of overarching principle for all of the reading standards, so W.CCR.10 is for the writing standards. So what is W.CCR.10 at its core?
Write all the time
All right, I might be overstating things, but not by much.
And this makes sense — if we want kids to be literate, that is.
One study in particular comes to mind, which I first learned of via Kelly Gallagher. In Writing to Read: Evidence for how Writing can Improve Reading, researchers share three findings:
- When students write about the texts they read, their reading and writing improve.
- When students learn and engage in the writing process behind creating texts, their reading and writing improve.
- When students write their own texts frequently, their reading and writing improve.
Good stuff, right?
Write in lots of ways
So how do we get students writing all the time? Well, W.CCR.10 is typical of the CCSS in that it leaves things pretty wide open for the teacher or curriculum writer to decide.
The only requirement, really, is that students have a balanced and generous diet of writing.
So, in writing about texts, students should/could write:
- personal reactions
In other words, students should respond to texts with pieces long and short, formal and informal, night and day 🙂
And in practicing the writing process, students should/could write:
- short stories
- narrative poems
- how-to articles
…and just about anything else you can think of.
The point is as simple as it is profound: if you've got students writing all the time for a lot of stuff, you're nailing W.CCR.10 and, infinitely more important, you're giving kids the reading/writing version of the mutant spider that bites Peter Parker. (Isn't it about time you tweeted a bizarre metaphor?)
So how is it done in your classroom, warriors of the teaching blogosphere? Share your wisdom, ideas, triumphs, and failures in the comments section below.
Zaretta Hammond says
I appreciate the way you break down this anchor standard. I want to make explicit an implicit idea embedded in your post — we should have students write about real stuff. The list you give is highlights real writing for the purpose of communicating with others, expressing one’s self. I think we sometimes miss this point and have kids produce writing that goes nowhere, that no one else (other than the teacher) is going to read.
Everyday writing for real purposes is what actually builds skill and capacity in thinking, conceptual understanding not to mention the fluency and mechanics of writing — grammar, word choice, punctuation. It’s like wax on, wax off in the original Karate Kid movie. If they do it long enough for a real purpose they will look up one day and see that they have developed into better writers.
Dave Stuart Jr. (@davestuartjr) says
Zaretta, thanks a lot for hitting on that. Writing needs to be real. I hope that the CCSS emphasis on college/career readiness will promote the kind of real writing that you’re talking about.
Also, the Karate Kid metaphor is sweet. Wax on, wax off — yes!
Carolyn Alexander says
So any ideas for grading, assessing, giving credit for, etc. all this writing…for managing the paper monster without getting overwhelmed? I can’t possibly read, comment and evaluate every piece of writing that my 150+ students complete, but I want them to feel their efforts are recognized and these are tasks worth doing well.
Thanks to all the teaching the core posters who are willing to share their interpretations of the standards and ideas for successfully teaching them.
First of all, Carolyn, thanks for posting and giving voice to one of my greatest enemies as an ELA teacher: the paper monster.
I try to use Kelly Gallagher’s advice — I want my students to write 4 times as much as I will grade. To keep them feeling that their efforts matter, I have them share their pieces with each other, and to keep them remembering that these tasks are worth doing well, I sometimes do not tell them which pieces I will be grading. I also use the continuous old-school refrain of, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing your best.”
Those practices are far from perfectly executed in my room, but there they are. Thanks again, Carolyn!
Jonetta Jonte' says
I just completed a master’s level cour on writing across the curriculum. Our text by William Strong, a sentence combining guru, advised not grading writing-to-learn papers. This writing is a formative assessment that merits review for understanding, but not the writing that we take the time “bleed” all over. (He had strong ideas about “bleeding” as well).
Strong, W. Coaching writing in content areas: write-for-insight strategies, grades 6-12. (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson
Jonetta, that’s a really important point that I need to remember: we have to honor writing-to-learn papers as works in progress (or, using your analogy, perhaps as bloody bandages). Sometimes my grading is simply on an effort rubric — did the student make a reasonable attempt at the writing-to-learn piece? I find that grading with this question helps more complete pieces find their way to my grading box.