All right, we're almost done pwning these writing anchor standards. And just so we're clear, pwn is pronounced “pown” which rhymes with own, and it essentially means domination. My little brothers (high schoolers) taught me the meaning of this word on a recent road trip we shared:
Now then. Let's pwn this.
W.CCR.9 — that's the 9th College and Career Readiness anchor standard within the Writing strand of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for ELA/Literacy — reads as follows:
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
We've reached the final part of the research writing trio of anchor standards (W.CCR.7-9). So, what makes W.CCR.9 unique? What does it say students need to be able to do?
Back stuff up with evidence
W.CCR.9 is all about using other texts to strengthen and support our own writing — and I'm not just talking about arguments here.
Here are some questions that I might ask my students in pursuit of mastering this standard:
- What is evidence?
- What's the difference between evidence and details or facts?
- What must evidence do?
Essentially, I want my students to see how rich writing can be when it is in conversation with other texts. Gerald Graff hits on this big time in Clueless in Academe — writing in the disciplines is not isolated papers, it's a network of papers, some of which argue against one another, some of which explain things, some of which narrate, but all of which act like this gigantic, collaborative brain.
Using evidence in our writing is consciously collaborating with other writers, intentionally building on what others have written. (Click to tweet a shortened but still awesome version of this line.)
When my students and I are in tune with this, I see less “quote bombing” (students just picking out a gigantic quote and including it in their piece because they know they need a quote) and more awesomeness.
Some further questions I might ask to promote the awesomeness of evidence-based writing:
- Where in the text were you impacted? Why? What did the author do to grab you?
- What lines stood out to you? Why?
- How does this piece of the text support your theories? i.e., how does Juliet's “Romeo, Romeo, wherefore…” line support your idea that Shakespeare is portraying young love as foolish?
- Where did you learn this fact? How does it add to the central idea you're trying to communicate? i.e., is it worth including?
These are some of my prompting questions. What are some of yours? How do you encourage evidence-based writing in your classroom? How do you equip students to do it with excellence?