Do any of those questions sound familiar?
I spent this week with some fabulous teachers working on the Iowa Core Writing Standards. Did we work on all of them? No! Did we talk about all of them? Not by number! But we did spend a lot of time talking about what good writing should look like, how writing will be assessed in the future, and the whole reciprocal nature of reading and writing.
So what’s my best advice for planning those “first writing lessons for the new year?”
Here is my thinking based on what I learned at Teachers College Reading and Writing Institutes this summer:
- At least 50 % of reading workshop time (or more) has to be spent on students reading books of their choice every day (CCR Anchor Reading 1 and 10).
- At least 50 % of writing workshop time (or more) has to be spent on students writing every day. (That writing has to be aligned to one of the first three CCR Anchor Writing Standards, Argument, Explanatory, or Narrative and 10).
(To summarize 1 and 2 above, every day the student will be working on a minimum of 2 reading and 2 writing anchor standards.)
If I have planned my instructional sequences well, I will have also managed to “bundle in” some Speaking and Listening and Language Anchor Standards or some Foundational grades K-5 standards to support the gradual release of responsibility.
How will I decide which ones go together? One of my new tools is this graphic, A Periodic Table of the Common Core Standards, from Burkins and Yaris. During planning, this table will remind me of the wide range of standards available and I will choose the standards that best meet the needs of my students as I also consider what I have learned about “letting the students guide my instruction” from Vicki Vinton and our #wrrdchat as we studied the book, What Readers Really Do.
How will I know if I have been successful?
- I will check the amount of time students spend reading and writing every day and shorten the “teacher talk” time to ensure that students are getting as much time possible for reading and writing.
- I will listen to students in reading and writing conferences to hear what they are saying about reading and writing.
- I will talk to students about my own reading and writing histories.
- I will model reading and writing with and for my students.
- And I will ask my Twitter mates for help, encouragement and assistance when things run amuck as they are prone to do!
(Dr. Shanahan has already said that “there are no power standards in ELA” here so that is a non-issue.) And yes, you do have to teach all the standards!