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Examining the Common Core State Standards . Text Dependent Writing Instruction Stuart Greenberg. A special thank you to Liz Greenberg & Katie Moeller. This Presentation…. Will familiarize you with some of the major challenges of teaching writing through the Common Core State Standards.

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examining the common core state standards

Examining the Common Core State Standards

Text Dependent Writing Instruction

Stuart Greenberg

this presentation
This Presentation…
  • Will familiarize you with some of the major challenges of teaching writing through the Common Core State Standards.
  • Will give you insights into how and why these standards particularly in writing are different.
  • Will provide some insights how to align writing instruction to these new standards.
what is a school
What is a School?
  • A series of autonomous class rooms that are connected by a common parking lot.
  • A place where the relatively young watch the relatively old work.
  • A complex organization that is built upon relationships that require individuals to work interdependently.
good teaching certainly makes a difference but it is unclear what makes a good teacher
Good teaching certainly makes a difference, but it is unclear what makes a good teacher

A meta-analysis of 52 research articles and more than 700 research papers conclude a “good” teacher:

  • has high expectations for student achievement - focuses on outcomes
  • provides consistent classroom routines
  • has varied and appropriate teaching methods and materials
essential qualities that distinguish exceptional teachers from good teachers
Essential Qualities that Distinguish Exceptional Teachers from Good Teachers
  • Accountability for outcomes
  • Knowledge of subject
  • Communication Skills
  • Interest in Students
  • Respect for Students
  • Positive Dispositions
the value of high quality instruction
The Value of High Quality Instruction

“... the most important factor affecting student learning is the teacher. ... The immediate and clear implication of this finding is that seemingly more can be done to improve education by improving the effectiveness of teachers than by any other single factor.”

Wright, S.; Horn, S. & Sanders, W. (1997). 'Teacher and Classroom Context Effects on Student Achievement: Implications for Teacher Evaluation', Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education, 11, pp. 57-67.

common core state standards design and organization
Common Core State StandardsDesign and Organization

Four strands:

Reading (including Reading Foundational Skills)


Speaking and Listening


An integrated model of literacy

Media requirements blended throughout

key advances
Key Advances


  • Balance of literature and informational texts
  • Text complexity


  • Emphasis on argument and informative/explanatory writing
  • Writing about sources

Speaking and Listening

  • Inclusion of formal and informal talk


  • Stress on general academic and domain-specific vocabulary
writing the neglected r
Writing: The Neglected “R”

Of the “3 Rs,” writing has been accorded the least attention.

Writing and reading depend on a common core of knowledge.

Reading is thinking guided by print.

the importance of vocabulary in writing
The Importance of Vocabulary in Writing

When you’re faced with a writing assignment, a good vocabulary is an indispensable (very important or necessary) tool. If you have several synonyms (words with similar meanings) in your repertoire (“toolbox”), you’ll be able to choose the best word for the job. Avoid vague words like “stuff” or “things” when you write. These words do not give the reader a good sense of your meaning. Also, use strong verbs that give the reader good information.

Here’s an example: People do a lot of things.

BETTER: People perform a lot of tasks.

powerful vocabulary
Powerful Vocabulary

Vocabulary, language, writing and conversation combine as our primary tools in communications. Teaching vocabulary in an integrated manner requires a superhuman effort….

video clip wordgirl
Video clip: WordGirl

Source: http://youtu.be/eLw3ExL18r8


hot tepid cold

warm chilly

national commission on writing
National Commission on Writing

“If students are to make knowledge their own, they must struggle with the details, wrestle with the facts, and rework raw information and dimly understood concepts into language they can communicate to someone else. In short, if students are to learn, they must write.”

why we learn from writing
Why We Learn From Writing
  • Writing about text is effective because it encourage deeper thinking about ideas
  • Requires students to draw on their own knowledge

and experience

  • Helps them to consolidate and review information
  • Inspires the reformulation of thinking
  • Requires the organization and integration of ideas
  • Fosters explicitness
  • Facilitates reflection
  • Encourages personal involvement
  • Requires translation into one’s own words

Each year in their writing, students should demonstrate increasing sophistication in all aspects of language use, from vocabulary and syntax to the development and organization of ideas, and they should address increasingly demanding content and sources. Students advancing through the grades are expected to meet each year’s grade-specific standards and retain or further develop skills and understandings mastered in preceding grades.

experimental studies
Experimental Studies
  • Meta- analyses of experimental studies show that certain kinds of writing can have a powerful impact on reading achievement.
  • This can work in various ways (such as students learning reading skills through writing activity), but the biggest payoff is from writing about text— most of these studies done in grades 4-12.
experimental studies1
Experimental Studies
  • 93% of study outcomes in which students wrote about text had a positive impact (grades 2-12)
  • When students were taught explicitly how to write (not just assigned writing), then these impacts were equally large with poor readers
  • Writing about text was more powerful than just

reading it or reading it and rereading it/studying it/discussing

  • Average effect sizes .40 (11 studies with standardized tests) and .51 (50 studies with other assessments)

Conceptual Organizer

Writing types/purposes (standards 1−3)

  • Writing arguments
  • Writing informative/explanatory texts
  • Writing narratives

Strong and growing across-the-curriculum emphasis on students writing arguments and informative/explanatory texts

Aligned with NAEP Writing Framework


Production and distribution of writing (standards 4−6)

Developing and strengthening writing

Using technology to produce and enhance writing

Research (standards 7−9)

Engaging in research and writing about sources

Range of writing (standard 10)

Writing routinely over various time frames


Conventions of standard English

Knowledge of language (standards 1−3)

Using standard English in formal writing and speaking

Using language effectively and recognizing language varieties

Vocabulary (standards 4−6)

Determining word meanings and word nuances

Acquiring general academic and domain-specific words and phrases

writing about text
Writing about text
  • Past standards have emphasized writing as a free-standing subject or skill.
  • Students have been expected to be able to write texts requiring low information (or only the use of widely available background knowledge).
  • The common core puts greater emphasis on the use of evidence in writing.
  • Thus, the major emphasis shifts from writing stories to writing about the ideas in text.
writing about text1
Writing about Text


  • Writing will need to be more closely integrated with reading comprehension instruction.
  • The amount of writing about what students read will need to increase.
  • Greater emphasis on synthesis of information and critical essays than in the past.
  • Past standards have tended to treat text as being just a form of neutral information.
  • The common core state standards begin with the theoretical premise that texts (and other forms of language) are a form of argument.
  • Given the emphasis on argument, critical reading and writing take center stage in the new common core standards.
argumentation cont
Argumentation (cont.)


  • Teachers will be expected to teach students to discern the arguments underlying a text or presentation.
  • Need for a greater emphasis on trying to figure out author perspective, tone, position.
  • Much greater emphasis on the use of evidence.
  • Greater emphasis on making one’s own arguments (persuasion is only one aspect of this).
document walk
Document Walk

Appendix C:

  • Annotated Samples of Student Writing

Student Sample: Grade 1, Informative/Explanatory

Student Sample: Grade 8, Informative/Explanatory

writing is something that all teachers teach
Writing Is Something That All Teachers Teach
  • That can be taught more powerfully by using written response to support comprehension.
  • That can be taught as students use evidence from the text to elaborate responses.
  • That can make use of generative knowledge from other subjects like science and social studies.
  • Integrate focus, organization, support and conventions.
expectations for high quality writing
Expectations for High-Quality Writing
  • Sufficient, specific, and relevant development of support, i.e., elaboration that includes concrete details and pertinent information that helps the reader construct mental images; cite evidence from the text.
  • Clear, precise word choice that provides a natural, reasonable, and consistent tone to the response, rather than sudden bursts of elevated, contrived use of vocabulary or discordant use of creative writing strategies; paraphrase the text.
a teacher s goal inspiring writers
A Teacher’s Goal: Inspiring Writers!
  • Providing meaningful feedback to increase student performance.
  • Empowering students to think critically and personally about writing.
  • Writing to communicate.
  • Writing to learn in all subject areas.
transitioning to the common core state standards as we teach is very complex
Transitioning to the Common Core State Standards as We Teach is Very Complex…



concluding thoughts
Concluding Thoughts

The place to start is with the things you have the most control over - leadership, scheduling, use of data, interactive passionate high quality instruction, and professional development.

To make this complex system work, knowledgeable leaders and dedicated teachers need to work together to establish a school culture focused on high standards and confidence that goals can be achieved.


Collins, J. L., & Gunning, T. (Eds.), Building struggling students' higher level literacy.

Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

De La Paz, S. (2005). Effects of historical reasoning instruction and writing strategy

mastery in culturally and academically diverse middle school classrooms. Journal

of Educational Psychology, 97, 139-156.

Graham, S., & Hebert, M. (2010). Writing to read: Evidence of how writing can

improve reading. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for adolescent

students. Journal of Educational Psychology, 99, 445–476)

Shanahan, T. (2004). Overcoming the dominance of communication: Writing to think

and learn. In T. L. Jetton & J. A. Dole (Eds.), Adolescent literacy research and

practice. New York: Guilford Press.

Shanahan, T. (2008). Relations among oral language, reading, and writing

development. In C. A. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of

Writing Research (pp. 171-186). New York: Guilford Press.

Tierney, R. J., & Shanahan, T. (1991). Research on the reading-writing relationship:

Interactions, transactions, and outcomes. In R. Barr, M. L. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, P.

D. Pearson (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research (pp. 246-280). New York: Longman.