Writing is a subject that is important to students–to everyone, really–and the teaching and assessing of it are ever-changing. I LOVE the topic of writing (wait–you knew that already didn’t you?): I love doing it, reading about it, teaching about it, everything. And above all, one of my favorite things about writing is helping kiddos get to love it, too.
So…this year our district is implementing a new writing curriculum, one that I have had the privilege of spending the last year rewriting to better match the Common Core State Standards and better help every student become college and career ready.
In some ways, writing in our school district was already aligned with CCSS, and we have always had really high standards for what students should be able to do. But there are also some things that have (and will) changed in response to the new standards:
- Students will now be required to learn about and then demonstrate their knowledge of argumentive writing. This is much different than the opinion pieces we’ve done for years–the heart of the argument is staking a claim, anticipating counterarguments (and answering them) and using valid evidence to support the claim.
- The ability to write in every content area, while included for years, is more highly expected now. Writing is expected to be thought of as something you do every day, in many ways and in many places. It is not just something you do at school for an hour a day. Students should be writing in reading, writing in math, writing in science and writing in social studies.
- New listening and speaking standards have been introduced, and are emphasized in all areas of student learning, not just in writing.
- Students are expected to be writing for a larger audience and making global connections via the internet. Thank you KidBlog for your help with this one! Luckily I started this one years ago. 🙂
- Students are expected to be able to produce an entire piece of writing in one sitting. Yep, go all the way through the cycle in 45 minutes. 🙂
And so that’s why this post is called On-Demand (glad I finally got to that explanation, huh?). We did our second on-demand writing piece today. And boy is there a story to tell. 🙂
This year, as a part of our new curriculum, we have access to Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study. The newest version of them is aligned with CCSS expectations, and gives teachers many ideas of how to help kiddos achieve these more rigorous standards. Included in each unit is an on-demand writing assessment (well actually there are two–one as a pretest and one at the end of the unit).
We just finished up a narrative unit, and today was the day we sat to do our on-demand piece, in 45 minutes. Here were the directions I gave:
Now, we have done this before. Only once, though, at the beginning of the year before we started this unit. I wish I had pictures of their faces when I first told them what we were going to do and how long they had to do it. I don’t. Boo. 😦
But I do have pictures of what it looked like today.
Some friends sat with me at my table to work on their pieces.
Max needed to stretch out on the floor to get the juices flowing. Totally how it rolls in our room! Love how he looks like he’s really thinking!
There are definitely many friends with their heads in their hands for at least part of the session. Again–lots of deep thinking happening here!
I set a timer for friends who needed to monitor how much more time they had. Although, not surprisingly, this really stressed some people out more than it helped them. 😦
For as hard as it was, though, I was so glad that in a very short time, everyone was busy and writing. Everyone got a piece written and everyone turned something in! It was very cool to see what they are now able to accomplish in such a short amount of time! I think they’re amazed, too. And the best part is that the more we do this, the easier it will get!