First, I want to start by saying I am NO expert on the Common Core Standards. I am learning just like most of you. I do know, however, that quality instruction is not only about the standards!! Among the long list of factors that affect student learning (teachers being number one in my opinion), student motivation is right up there on the list! You could have the best standards, instructional strategies, etc.. but if the students don’t enjoy it or want to do it, they either won’t do it, or they will not give it their very best. This is why I am so incredibly happy to share a resource with you that the students actually enjoy!! They are more motivated about writing than I have seen all year.. keep reading. 🙂
Oh… those Common Core Standards!
In my 5th grade class, we have been implementing the close reading strategies that support the Common Core Standards. At first, I was rather skeptical of these new standards. Now that I see the impact they are having on my students and their reading progress.. I am a believer!
Writing & The Common Core
One of the things I was worried about was writing. I am used to the very strict 5 paragraph essay. With the new Common Core Standards, students are encouraged to write about what they are reading. It is a continuous process of reading and writing – writing and reading.. and over and over again.. The focus isn’t so much on the organization of the writing as it is the content. (Don’t get me wrong.. organization is extremely important too!)
In my class, when we read, we discuss… a LOT. The students are learning how to create conversation around the stories we read. They are learning to read closely into what the authors themes are. They are beginning to understand these big metaphors. I have noticed how much they are learning by discussing. I wanted writing to be that way as well.
It would take hours to try and find reading resources and text dependent questions to use in the classroom. Luckily for us teachers, there is a website that has taken our basal readers and has created common core aligned lesson plans that go along with each of our stories. We have the text, and now we have text dependent, Common Core aligned questions and writing prompts to use as well. I have been using the Basal Alignment Project in my classroom, and it has been very helpful!
How can I create a writing community packed with discussion & peer feedback?
That question. Whew! I thought about it over.. and over.. and over.. I came up with lots of different ideas but nothing seemed to fit my classroom’s needs. It was either expensive, time consuming, or just impractical. I searched for websites that could aide in my writing community. I finally stumbled across a true gem!!
Whole Class Website
Student’s Individual Blogs
Comments, Feedback, MAGIC!
Ok.. I’m good now.
Well.. there ya have it folks! An easy way for students to, not only publish, but interact with their writings. Stay tuned.. my next post will be about how I taught the students how to organize their writing! There will be some freebies!!