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Utilizing the CCSS for writing across all content areas. Sandra Newsham , M.Ed School Support Specialist [email protected] “Where do I begin?” “What resources should I use?”. What is the greatest barrier to change?.

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“Where do I begin?”

“What resources should I use?”


The Common Core State Standards will help us increase the amount of rigor in our classrooms. However, the standards alone are not enough. It is the successful implementation of the standards that will produce more well-rounded, critical thinkers.

identify key concepts
Identify Key Concepts

CCSS W.6.3: Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effectivetechnique, relevant descriptivedetails, and well-structuredevent sequences.

identify student learning targets
Identify Student Learning Targets

CCSS W.6.3: Writenarratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.


Old Opening Day Writing Assignment:

Write an essay on what you did this summer.


New Opening Day Writing Assignment:

Give me suggestions for my next vacation based on one of your previous vacations and/or information you’ve obtained about a specific place.

hatchet by gary paulsen
HATCHET by Gary Paulsen

Brian Robeson, a thirteen year old boy traveling in a small airplane to Canada to spend the summer with his father, is involved in a plane crash in an uninhabited part of the Canadian woods after the pilot dies of a heart attack. Brian then must find a way to survive and in the process, discovers much about himself and becomes a man.

introductory narrative prompt without text
Introductory narrative prompt:(without text)

Describe a time when you overcame or survived a difficult situation. What obstacles did you encounter? How did your experience contribute to your maturity?

follow these writing suggestions
Follow these writing suggestions:
  • Your composition should have two or more paragraphs.
  • Be sure your composition has a main idea and supporting details.
  • Be sure to write clearly.
  • Check your writing for correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
story based narrative prompt
Story-based Narrative Prompt

Brian has survived many things in his life (such as his parents’ divorce). What qualities does Brain possess that make him a survivor? Use evidence from the text to support your answer. Do you possess any survivor qualities? Use evidence from your life to support your answer.

follow these writing suggestions1
Follow these writing suggestions:
  • Your composition should have two or more paragraphs.
  • Be sure your composition has a main idea and supporting details.
  • Use details from the selection and your experiences, including enough information so your teacher will understand your response.
  • Be sure to write clearly.
  • Check your writing for correct spelling, punctuation, and grammar.
science social studies math connections
Science/Social Studies/Math Connections
  • Use any science reference source to create a list of vocabulary words found in the story. (word wall, word journal)
  • Use any social studies reference source to create a list of geographical vocabulary words.
  • Use any math reference source to create a list of math-related terms.
  • Use the various vocabulary words to create a short story. (It may be informative or narrative.)
all writing does not require a grade
All writing does not require a grade!

Informal writing opportunities play an important part in improving overall writing.

  • Have students write a text message.
  • Share the message with a partner.
  • Allow the partner to rewrite the message in standard English, correcting grammar, punctuation, etc.

Text:Yo. Wazup. Did U C Joe. Lemme know if U R goin 2da party. TTYL.

Standard English: Hello. How are you? Did you see Joe? Let me know if you are going to the party. I will talk to you later.

raft writing
RAFT Writing
  • R – Role (role of the writer)
  • A– Audience (to whom or what the RAFT is being written)
  • F– Form (the form the writing will take, as in letter, song, etc.)
  • T– Topic (the subject focus of the writing)

RAFT writing has been used to explain processes, describe a point of view, envision a potential job or assignment, or solve a problem (Brozo & Simpson, 2007). It’s the kind of writing that when crafted appropriately should be creative and informative.

example of raft writing in math
Example of RAFT Writing in Math

R– A whole number between 1 and 9

A – A whole number equal to 10 minus their number

F – A letter

T – Why it’s important to be a positive role model for the fractions less than one.


Dear Number 7:

It has come to my attention that you are not taking seriously your responsibilities as a role model for the fractions. With this letter I would like to try to convince you of the importance of being a positive role model for the little guys. One day, with the proper combinations, they too will be whole numbers. It is extremely important for them to understand how to properly carry out the duties of a whole number.


For them to learn this, it is imperative for them to have good positive role models to emulate. Without that, our entire numbering system could be in ruins. They must know how to add, subtract, multiply, and divide properly and efficiently. They must know how to respond if ever asked to become a member of a floating point gang. Since they are not yet whole, it is our duty to number kind to make sure they are brought up properly to the left of the decimal.

Thank you in advance for our support,

The Number 3

example of raft writing in science
Example of RAFT Writing in Science

R – Chromosome

A– Daughter Chromosomes

F– Letter

T– Cell division during mitosis


Dear Daughter Chromosomes,

You are moving on to better things as part of separate but equal cells. You don’t remember me because you are both part of what I was. You see, during Anaphase, I split in two at my centromere. My last minutes were spent with what now accompany you as other daughter chromosomes. Please do not be afraid of the double membrane, called the nuclear envelope, which will soon surround you.


It is going to form in order to protect you while you replicate and proceed through what I did. You will eventually split in order to help form another duplicate cell. I write you to wish you luck and share with you my experience so that you may pass it on to others.


Mrs. Chromosome

teaching tasks
Teaching Tasks

Strong Teaching Tasks are:

  • Worthy of 2, 3 or 4 weeks of instruction
  • Ask students to grapple with an important issue
  • Provide opportunities to address text complexity and the use of informational text as called for in the CCSS
  • Have students working in the most effective mode of discourse/text structure
  • Evolves from a rigorous text-dependent question.
paired reading in math
Paired Reading in Math
  • After teaching a certain skill, find two texts on the topic. (You may read to the students or have them read silently.)
  • Have the students write one or two paragraphs explaining which text best explained the math skill.
  • Students must provide details from the text to support their answer.
other writing i deas for math
Other Writing Ideas for Math
  • Have students solve a math problem by writing the steps
  • Have students justify their answer
  • Allow students to interview a working adult to collect data about the responsibilities of the job. Students will then classify the responsibilities by subject. Have students write a report on all the ways math is involved in the job.
free online resources
Free online resources
  • Common Core Appendix B-full text exemplars for all content areas
  • Achieve3000.com (Both Username and Password: commoncore.teacher)
  • Corepedia.org
  • The Common Core Institute (http://commoncoreinstitute.org)
  • Tools for the Common Core Standards (http:commoncoretools.wordpress.com)
  • Sciencenews.org-free current event science articles on various topics
  • Google Search: Excerpts from books
  • Ck12.org-free textbooks (some aligned directly to CCSS)
  • Free Full PDFs- searchable database of free PDF’s (http://www.freefullpdf.com/)
  • http://sciencebooksonline.info/
    • Downloadable books in a variety of formats and topics
  • http://www.scientificamerican.com/
  • http://www.whatsoproudlywehail.org/