Frequently, the answer to the question posed above is one met with hesitation. While most of us can answer the type of reading or math instruction a student will receive in our school, writing instruction is one area that is often glossed over, or assumed to be present in the ELA classroom. Teaching students to write is viewed as complicated, and many teachers resort to focusing on grammar and conventions. While these two areas should be included in any writing program, they often extinguish the love of writing in students. Likewise, rarely does a department or school have a comprehensive writing program; one that scaffolds and builds off of the previous year’s instruction. Typically, it is a game left to chance if a child receives writing instruction by a highly-qualified teacher; and even then, without an intentional writing program agreed upon by the department and school, gaps in writing instruction equal little growth seen in students.
The Common Core gives as much attention to writing as it does reading. In fact, three of the reading standards require students to read like writers. “Writing is assumed to be the vehicle through which a great deal of the critical thinking, reading work, and reading assessment will occur” (Lucy Calkins). Students abilities to read and understand will be assessed through their ability to write. The Core also provides an infrastructure into which a curriculum can be developed. Vertical alignment to the core provides foundations a student learned prior onto which one can stand upon and build from.
The Core is the WRONG answer to give as to why one should reform their writing curriculum… instead,
- You believe in kids.
- You believe in democracy.
- You believe in the right for all people’s voices to be heard.
- You believe that writers make choices for deliberate reasons.
The Standard-based approach to writing includes a shared commitment by the whole school, it is the work of everyone. Writing, like reading and math, is one of those subjects that affect a learner’s ability to succeed in other areas. Finally, there is a shared commitment to teach writing, and some infrastructure that assures enough of a curriculum that teachers can build off of prior instruction.
Lucy Calkins also outlines the “bottom-line conditions” needed for writing. I have created an infographic highlighting these conditions.
Complete slides found here