Gone are the days of free writing. The Common Core and the PARRC are pushing students to “cite several pieces of textual evidence” when responding to reading, and they don’t just mean in informational writing. In the PARRC, students will be expected to write narrative, argument, and informative pieces in response to text. That’s a huge shift for many teachers, especially in the earlier grades, but with the right tools, the transition will be smooth for both students and teachers.
One great tool is the The Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC). LDC is a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that harnesses the power of classroom teachers, school and district leaders, and state departments to create literacy modules that align to the Common Core. The web site is impressive, with module exemplars and tools to help you build your own modules.
When you first visit the web site, you may feel a little overwhelmed, so I think the best place to start is by examining the writing prompt templates in the Tasks section of the site. LDC “template tasks” provide fill-in-the-blank shells that teachers use to create writing assignments. When I first visited the site, I reviewed all my own writing prompts and adapted them, and that simple step helped to align my writing closer to the Common Core. See below.
[Insert question] After reading _____ (literature or informational texts), write a/an _____ (essay or substitute) that discusses _____ (content) and evaluates _____ (content). Be sure to support your position with evidence from the texts.
Adapted for my own class:
After reading Throwing Shadows by E.L. Koningsburg, write an essay that discusses the character traits of one character by evaluating three items you may find in their trash. Be sure to support your findings with evidence from the text.
There are hundreds of additional tools to help teachers transition to the Core, but everyone needs to start somewhere. Visit http://www.literacydesigncollaborative.org/ and start examining the “Tasks” and/or exemplar modules by clicking on “Modules” and “Sample Modules”. Also, throughout the summer, I’ll post more tips to help you align your reading and writing curriculum to the Core. Subscribe so you don’t miss a thing!