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5 ways the Common Core encourages writing skills

MONDAY, JUNE 16, 2014 10:25 AM

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are a set of benchmarks aimed at helping students reach college preparedness by the time they graduate high school. These Standards, which are optional for states to adopt, complete these goals by putting a heavy emphasis on writing and literacy skills. Unlike previous models of state standards, the Common Core encourages teachers to use writing exercises frequently to promote effective communication. Here are five of the ways in which the Common Core supports students as they develop their writing skills:

1. Writing happens in every subject
Writing assignments, in many cases, used to be reserved for English classrooms. However, the CCSS encourages teachers to add writing to the roster of every subject. Science, math, social studies, etc., can all include writing in lesson plans. For example, students might conduct a report on why their science experiment went the way it did during chemistry class. Social studies students may compose a short story written from the perspective of a historical figure. The possibilities for devising unique and relevant writing assignments are numerous, as long as teachers are creative.

2. Introduces research in class
The Common Core State Standards recommend that students be able to use source materials to devise a complex research paper with a fully formulated analysis. Students start learning to compile research materials and analyze texts in most of their classes, which is practice for executing a thorough paper. Students must frequently read technical or nonfiction texts and search for information that pertains to class discussions. This process is similar to researching for a paper - students must read texts to find information relevant to their topic or thesis, then integrate that support into their writing.

3. Writing types are diverse
Old standards for education had students in younger grades mostly writing personal-experience stories. For example, first graders might have written about their summer break. While, the CCSS still uses some personal experience prompts, it adds variety writing by requiring students to craft persuasive and instructional essays. A student writing a persuasive essay must present a point and convince the audience that the point is correct throughout the course of the paper. Students in a science class might explain a process they used to complete a task in order to fulfill an explanation-essay prompt. As students get older, their writing focuses more on the persuasive side while maintaining a balance of experience and explanation.

4. Students must learn to revise
The Common Core State Standards note that students must learn to plan, revise, rewrite, edit or attempt a new approach when necessary. Sometimes a student's initial idea for a paper isn't the best topic to cover. Other times, students may realize their organization isn't on point and that they must revise. Learning how to not only structure a paper, but also edit when appropriate, is an important writing skill students will use in college and their careers. The planning process is critical, especially when students take standardized tests. They may not have a lot of time during the writing portion to edit their essay, but if it was planned well from the beginning, they have a shot at producing something of merit.

5. Write using technology
The CCSS encourages the use of technology in the classroom, even when it comes to writing. The Standards note that students should use the Internet to collaborate with other students, research using credible sources and potentially share their writing. Schools that have online newspapers or literary journals can publish student writing, giving kids an outlet to share their work. 

While the CCSS outlines numerous educational goals across subjects, its attention to writing development is dynamic. By the time students graduate high school, they'll be able to communicate effectively, form arguments, edit and use technology in their writing.