Common Core Standards
Learn, plan, and implement Common Core in your classroom. Use the Resource Correlations to find Common Core correlations to existing Writing A-Z resources, as well as Raz-Plus, ELL Edition, and Science A–Z. Also provided is information on key CCSS writing topics and why they are important.
What Is Writing?The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) require students to be able to write effectively and proficiently. In order to ensure college and career readiness, students must be able to write for a variety of purposes, cite evidence from text, research and present knowledge on a topic, and produce and publish writing in a variety of formats.
The Common Core standards focus on three writing categories:
Writing assignments are not what they used to be. Not so long ago, many teachers had students concentrate on fictional or personal narrative writing. Very little attention was paid to how they interpreted and wrote informational text.
However, key shifts in writing objectives have been made by CCSS. Students must now be able to confidently write about a text. They must be able to compose more extensive pieces where they have a chance to write it, read it, review it and revise it. Wherever possible, technology needs to be a part of the instruction as well — whether it is for the writing itself or to access multiple sources of information.
Why Is Writing Important?Studies show that learning to present important information in an organized piece of writing helps students generate a greater understanding of a text. In addition, it helps to improve both their reading comprehension and their writing skills. With the implementation of the Common Core English Language Arts Standards, students will be required to use writing skills to incorporate the skills of citing evidence from text. They will learn to analyze content using correct English rules of grammar. They will be encouraged to develop a highly academic and rich vocabulary, and to report findings on the subjects they choose to cover.
For example, in grade 4 of the Common Core writing standards (W.4.1), students should be able to write opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information. In short, it says that students must be able to do the following:
- Introduce a topic or text clearly, state an opinion, and create an organizational structure in which related ideas are grouped to support the writer’s purpose
- Provide reasons supported by facts and details
- Link opinion and reasons using words and phrases
- Provide a concluding statement or section related to the opinion presented
How Do Writing A-Z's Resources Support the Teaching of Writing?Writing A-Z offers a complete collection of lessons and resources to teach writing to K-6 students, helping students of all skill levels become capable and confident writers.
- Process Writing Lessons teach students the five steps of the writing process through the four main writing genres:
- Emerging Writer Lessons offer a number of emergent writing resources that meet the specific needs of pre-kindergartners, kindergartners, and other early writers, such as writing lessons, alphabet resources, high-frequency word practice, labeling activities, and writing prompts.
- Student Online Writing Tools allow students to log in to an engaging online writing environment to practice and refine their writing skills--from single page essays to entire books with illustrations.
- Skill Lessons focus on individual elements of composition for the purpose of strengthening writing skills, including conventions, sentence fluency, and word choice.
- Grammar and Word Work resources provide daily activities to teach and reinforce skills needed to convey a written message that is clear and concise, including parts of speech, punctuation, and figurative language.
- Writer's Responses for select titles from levels E-Z encourage students to reflect on the deeper meaning of each book read from the Reading A-Z leveled book library. Prompts support writing that applies, synthesizes, or evaluates a book.
What Is An Assessment?An assessment is any formal or informal measurement of student progress used to improve overall learning. As of the 2014-2015 school year, most of the current formal end-of-year state tests will be replaced by a new exam created by one of two consortiums that evaluates students against the set of new Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
The Common Core assessments created by the consortiums will measure both student achievement and progress on the CCSS. These assessments include:
- Interim/benchmark assessments
- Formative assessments
- Performance assessments
- Summative assessments
The criteria for these new Common Core ELA assessments will include:
- An intense focus on the close examination of text
- Mastery of complex literary and informational reading
- The ability to infer meaning from what is read
- The ability to both answer text-dependent questions and build arguments using evidence from the text
Students will be required to demonstrate a greater depth of knowledge within subject areas, cite evidence from the text in support of answers, and use technology to answer certain questions.
The types of assessment formats will be enhanced from traditional state testing items (such as multiple choice questions) to also include performance tasks, technology items, and constructed responses. In addition, writing about texts will be required to improve overall comprehension and meaning behind the text.
Three writing types wil specifically be covered within the new CCSS framework: informative/explanatory, narrative, and opinion/argument.
Why Are Assessments Important?The purpose of CCSS and common core standards assessments are to ensure that the expectations and objectives at each grade level are the same across every school, district, and state. However, the standards still allow educators the flexibility to teach in ways that meet the needs of their particular student population. The CCSS assessments will require students to apply learning in more complex ways. This will help students to better prepare for both college and for making their way in the workplace.
How Do Writing A-Z’s Resources Support Assessment?Writing A-Z offers resources that assess a range of writing skills.
Rubrics are commonly used as formative assessments that provide feedback to students based on specific criteria. Writing A-Z provides a variety of rubrics and checklists to monitor student progress.
- General Traits Rubrics are provided to assess student writing for traits of good writing. Writing is scored according to criteria that corresponds with beginning, early developing, developing, or fluent level traits to differentiate future instructions for students. An electronic version of the Traits Rubric is available for students who submit completed compositions within the Writing A-Z Student Tools.
- Text Type Rubrics assess the characteristics of a particular text type. Writing is scored according to criteria that corresponds with beginning, early developing, developing, or fluent level traits to differentiate future instructions for students.
- Checklists for emergent writers encourage students to self-evaluate their progress. The checklists increase in complexity as the student progresses through the stages of emergent writing.
Electronic portfolios provide a means for collecting examples of student work samples throughout the school year.
- Online In Basket collects student writing completed in the interactive online writing tools. This writing can be scored using online rubrics, archived in online student portfolios, and posted to a digital library that is shared with other students in the classroom.
- Write Rights are thirty-week daily grammar practice exercises at each of the four developmental levels. Weekly sets include quick daily practice and informal assessment of grammar and mechanics skills that are essential to effective writing.