Category Archives: Common Core Standards

Did the Common Core eliminate cursive handwriting as something kids need to learn? I can’t believe it!

The Common Core requires legible manuscript (printing) in kindergarten and first grade, but after that there are no standards relating to handwriting.  Learning cursive writing is not required.

In fourth grade, the Common Core requires students to be able to keyboard or type a full page at one sitting.

However, the Common Core developers have encouraged individual states and school districts to modify the standards as is appropriate for their populations.  Some states have included handwriting.  In California, kids need to learn printing in second grade and cursive in third and fourth grade.  Massachusetts requires legible handwriting of any kind in fourth grade.

Does your state require children to practice handwriting?  You can find out by going to your state’s department of education and searching for the state-required curriculum.  You may find that your state has adopted the Common Core as a whole, in which case handwriting will not be taught after first grade.

But that does not mean you can’t augment your child’s learning.  Teacher supply stores sell booklets on how to write in cursive.  Or you can go online to find such materials.

One good reason for children to be able to read and write cursive is to be able to read documents from the past.  The original Declaration of Independence and US Constitution were first written in cursive as were all documents before the 1860’s when the typewriter started being used.

Another reason is that teachers in higher grades and college often write notes, worksheets and sometimes tests in cursive.  A seventh grader told me that when her science teacher wrote some notes on the white board, few students in the class could read them.  The same teacher wrote a thank you note to members of a team she coaches, and the students needed to ask their parents to read the note to them.

Until word processing became popular in the 1980’s, most private correspondence, diaries, journals and manuscripts were written in cursive.  How awful not to be able to read great-grandpa’s post cards home from WWII or great-grandma’s recipes in her hand.

Written responses to test questions can be made faster with cursive than with printing.  This might not seem important when children are little, but writing a complete essay in 25 minutes for the SAT is another matter.  Sometimes students will have electronic notepads to take notes, but when they don’t, they will appreciate the ease of note-taking in cursive.

A few minutes a day practicing one letter at a time is all it takes to learn cursive.  Yet that knowledge opens another world to children, as does reading music, Braille, sign language or numbers.

How to teach writing—what the research says

After analyzing 250 important research studies on how to teach writing, researchers found three constants:

  • The more time students write, the better writers they will be.
  • Writing on a computer, rather than by hand, leads to better writing.
  • Teaching grammar doesn’t help.

student thinking about what to write

Let’s look at each of these correlations with good writing.

Spending more time writing improves student writing. It’s common sense that the more time you spend honing a skill, the better you become at it. Yet research shows that after third grade, students spend little time in class writing. Why?

The more students write, the more teachers need to read, to respond to and possibly to grade. The paperwork becomes overwhelming. Teachers are unwilling to spend hours every night reading student writing.

Also, many English teachers love literature and want to teach it. But they are not writers. They had little instruction in how to write when they were in school, and their teacher training didn’t focus on it. They can’t teach what they don’t know.

Composing on a computer leads to better student writing. Once a student becomes familiar with the keyboard and functions, writing on a computer goes much faster than writing by hand. You can move phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs around by swiping, cutting and pasting. Spell check indicates spelling errors, and software alerts you to grammar errors as well. A dictionary is a click away. Want to check on idioms or figures of speech? Another click away.

All this work is called revising, and as every professional writer knows, it is the key to good writing. When it becomes easy for students, they are willing to do it.

Yet most schools still ask students to write using pencil and paper. Why?

Maybe teachers believe students “cheat” when they let software provide correct spelling and grammar. How can teachers check for plagiarism if students can download someone’s writing? Or maybe teachers think that because computer technology is not available to all students, to level the playing field they should ask students to use a technology that is available, pencils and paper.

Learning grammar by diagramming sentences or by listening to distinct lessons on how to use apostrophes does not improve writing, according to the research. But teaching certain kinds of grammar, such as usage, does help. The old-fashioned kinds of grammar lessons most children have in school do not improve students’ writing.

Why? Perhaps children do not see the connection between grammar activities and writing. Correcting worksheets by adding commas or coordinating conjunctions is not the same as writing. Maybe if the students’ own writing were used to demonstrate grammar errors and solutions, the students would recognize the connection between grammar and their own writing. But that is not the way grammar is taught.

Researchers at Arizona State University and Arcadia University led by Steve Graham, who conducted this research, found few rigorous studies on the teaching of writing compared to thousands of studies on the teaching of reading. However, with the greater emphasis on writing brought on by the Common Core Standards, more research on student writing is sure to come.

RACE for better student answers to questions requiring evidence

If you are looking for a way to help students write better responses to questions about a reading selection, RACE might be the answer.  RACE is a method of responding to questions requiring evidence.  Responding to these kinds of questions is required by Common Core Standards.

RACE stands for four ideas:

  • Restate the information in the question.
  • Answer the question.
  • Cite evidence to support your answer.
  • Explain how the evidence supports your answer.

An example might help you understand this method better. Suppose a high school student has just read from her textbook about the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 and the actions of southern states immediately after his election.  Then she is asked to answer this question, citing information from her text:

Did Abraham Lincoln’s election as President of the US lead to the Civil War?

Restate:  Yes, Abraham Lincoln’s election as President of the US did lead to the Civil War.

Answer:  Right after his election, many states seceded and eventually attacked the US.

Cite Evidence:  According to the passage, Lincoln was elected in early November 1860 and took office in March 1861. The legislatures of seven southern states, including South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Texas, voted to leave the US during the winter of 1860-1861. They did this because Lincoln had a reputation as anti-slavery. In February 1861 they formed the Confederate States of America. About a month after Lincoln took office, on April 12, 1861, a US fort called Ft. Sumter was attacked by Confederates. After that attack, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee and North Carolina also seceded. Congress declared war on the Confederacy.  Lincoln was President a little more than a month when the Civil War began.

Explain how the evidence supports your answer: Before Lincoln was elected, the US was one country and no states had seceded. Within five months after he was elected, seven states had seceded, and then weeks later, four more states seceded, and Ft. Sumter was attacked.  The Civil War began. Lincoln’s election as president directly led to the Civil War.

Can this method be used with younger children too? Yes. Consider this third grade question:

Are fossils in the rocks on top older than fossils in the rocks on the bottom?

Restate: No, fossils in the rocks on top are not older than the fossils in the rocks on the bottom.

Answer:  Fossils on top are usually formed last and fossils on the bottom are usually formed first.

Cite evidence: Fossils are found in rocks.  These rocks form when layers of mud pile up with shells and bones stuck in the mud. The mud on the bottom becomes hard rock millions of years before the mud on the top does.

Explain how the evidence supports your answer: If you look at the Grand Canyon, the fossils in the rocks down near the river are much older than the fossils in the rocks near the top. That’s because rocks on the bottom and the fossils in them formed first. Rocks on the top and the fossils in them formed  later.

This method of answering questions requiring evidence is being taught in Georgia public schools where I live.

Short written responses on tests prove difficult for students

student writing test answerTest questions requiring students to write responses in paragraph form are becoming a standard part of student evaluations. Previously, most written tests, especially at the state level, were composed of multiple choice answers.

This change comes from the Common Core’s requirement for more critical thinking by students. They need to be able to cite evidence, explain their reasoning, summarize a passage, and draw conclusions. They need to use logic and write coherently in complete sentences.

It’s hard, especially for third graders new to this kind of thinking and writing. Here’s why.

  • Students make up evidence from previous reading or life experience, not realizing they must use only the evidence presented in a reading selection.
  • Students offer one piece of evidence when two or three examples are called for.
  • Students forget to include the evidence.
  • Students quote the evidence correctly but fail to connect it to the main idea.
  • Students provide irrelevant details.
  • Students misinterpret what is required of them. If the directions ask students to conclude, they might summarize. If the directions ask students to describe, they might identify.
  • Students do not stick to the point; they go off on tangents.
  • Students write using incomplete or illogical thoughts.
  • Students write around a topic without ever responding directly to the question asked.
  • Students leave out information which they take for granted the reader will know.
  • Students tire or become distracted before they are done writing a response. Their responses seem to stop in the middle of a thought.

Parents and teachers can help students overcome these problems, but it takes practice. We’ll talk about how in coming blogs.

Is a focal character the same thing as a point of view character?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no.  A focal character is the central character in a narrative. A point of view character is the character through whose eyes or mind we are learning about the story and the central character. Usually they are the same, but not always.

original cover of Sherlock HolmesIn the stories of Sherlock Holmes, Holmes is the focal character. We learn about his habits, such as his violin playing, his drug taking, and his disdain for people whom he considers his intellectual inferiors. More importantly we learn how his mind works—how he identifies subtle clues that others miss and how he uses them to solve difficult crimes.

But how do we learn all this? It’s though the eyes and ears of Dr. Watson. As Watson learns about Holmes, we learn about Holmes. As Watson is awed and appalled by Holmes’ behavior, we are awed and appalled. Dr. Watson is the point of view character.

Original cover of Huckleberry FinnIf a story is written in the first person, then the person telling the story is the point of view character. In To Kill a Mockingbird, Scout tells the story of her father’s legal defense of an innocent man. In that part of the story, Scout is the narrator but her father, Atticus, is the focal character. In Huckleberry Finn, Huck is both the focal character and the point of view character for the whole novel.

If a story is written in the third person, then the focal character can still be the point of view character. Hatchet is the story of teenager Brian Robeson who becomes stranded in the Canadian woods for a summer. It is written in the third person, but we hear the thoughts of Brian. “I have to get motivated, he thought, remembering Perpich. Right now I’m all I’ve got. I have to do something.”  Brian is both the focal character and the point of view character.

A few novels switch back and forth between point of view characters, both of whom are the focal characters. The first chapter focuses on Character One, giving the reader his emotions, thoughts and behavior, while the second chapter focuses on Character Two, giving the reader that character’s emotions, thoughts, and behavior. That there exist few books like this indicates that most authors—and maybe most readers—prefer a single point of view. Why? Perhaps two points of view are confusing. Or perhaps two points of view water down the impact of a story.

I recommend that if you are teaching children how to write narratives, that you explain the difference between focal characters and point of view characters by comparing versions of fairy tales. Read a traditional version of a fairy tale and then compare it to a “fractured” fairy tale. Use picture books to entice the students. Even high school kids will love this kind of lesson, but more importantly, they will remember the difference between focal character and point of view character.

Cover of "The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!"Read a traditional version of “The Three Little Pigs,” for example. Ask who the focal characters are. (Who is the story about? Often in fairy tales, the title gives it away.) From whose point of view is the story told? Usually in fairy tales it is from an unknown, god-like narrator. Then read a “fractured” fairy tale about the same story, such as Jon Scieszka’s The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. This version is told from the point of view of the Wolf, who of course, is the focal character.

sleeping_beautyAnother good example is reading a traditional version of “Sleeping Beauty.” The focal character is the princess and usually the point of view is the “god-like” third person narrator. Then read Leah Wilcox’s Waking Beauty, which focuses on a prince who will do almost anything not to kiss the snoring Beauty—hollering, jumping on her bed, throwing water at her, even shooting her from a canon. The focal character and the point of view are the prince, certainly not Sleeping Beauty.

(The Common Core State Standards include a writing standard—ELAW1—which requires students to use an appropriate point of view. Also, a literature standard—ELARI6—requires students to understand an author’s point of view.)

How should academic vocabulary be taught?

The new Common Core Standards call for students to learn “academic vocabulary.”

What many well-meaning teachers and parents do to “teach” this vocabulary is to ask students to look up in dictionaries or thesauruses the meanings of unknown words. This method of vocabulary instruction often fails because children don’t like to do it and so they pick the first meaning of a word, often the wrong meaning. If the children go online to look up the word, the result is even worse since online results list words but not nuances of meaning or usage.

So how can academic vocabulary be better taught and learned?

Cartoon of a waterskiier withe the caption, Aquatic:  relating to water

Aquatic: relating to water

One good way is to follow the advice of Robert Marzano, author of Building Academic Vocabulary (2004). He recommends

  • First, a teacher (or parent) explains the meaning of a new word to a child, giving an example that the child can remember. (I have found that the funnier the example, the easier it is for the child to relate the word to the example later on.)
  • Second, the child explains the new term in his or her own words. (If a word is difficult to pronounce, make sure the child says the word several times. I write the word phonetically, using syllable breaks, to help the child pronounce it.)
Cartoon of a man with footprints up his body and the words, Unassertive:  wimpy

Unassertive: wimpy

  • Next, the child makes a drawing of the word. (Stick figures are fine, but the meaning needs to be clear. Again, humor helps the child to attach the picture to the word.) A more dramatic child could act out the word. The idea is to explain the word not using words.
  • In the days after learning a new word, and from time to time thereafter, the child should encounter the word and the teacher or parent should ask what it means. If the child forgets, start the process again. If the parent makes a habit of using the word when talking to the child for a week or more, the child will better remember it.
Cartoon of a man with footprints up his body and the words, Unassertive:  wimpy

Mutilate: to cut in order to disfigure

  • From time to time, the teacher / parent and the student, or the student and her peers, should discuss vocabulary words. This could be every Monday, or twice a month, but regularly reviewing what a child has learned cements the ideas better each time they are reviewed.
  • Children should engage in fun games to help them remember vocabulary. (I use BINGO review games: a board labeled with 24 or 25 vocabulary words and a stack of definition cards. In a classroom setting, either I or a student student calls out a definition, and the children cover the correct word.)
Cartoon of a skull and crossbones with the words, Lethal:  deadly, toxic, fatal

Lethal: deadly, toxic, fatal

Adding one more idea to Marzano’s suggestions, I suggest that the word be used correctly in sentences. Many students I have taught can tell me the definition of a word, but when it comes to using the word correctly, they cannot do it. They use a noun for a verb; they don’t use the past tense or past participle of a verb; they leave off the “s” of plural words or of third person singular verbs; and when adding suffixes, they misspell. This usage work can be done orally so that it goes faster and so students don’t balk at it.

Common Core Writing Standards in for fifth graders in Washington State

What do the Common Core Standards in writing require of typical students? What skills do students need to master using these new guidelines?

To give you an idea, I chose a state—Washington—at the opposite end of the country from where I live—Georgia—to see what its Department of Education expects. I chose to look only at the writing standards which apply to fifth graders.

Here is what I found.

Washington decided on four “Essential Academic Learning Requirements for Writing (2005).” (I have color-coded the four essential requirements so that you can follow them more easily.) They are

  • EALR 1: The student understands and uses a writing process.
  • EALR 2: The student writes in a variety of forms for different audiences and purposes.
  • EALR 3: The student writes clearly and effectively.
  • EALR 4: The student analyzes and evaluates the effectiveness of written work.

From these for essential requirements educators and parents in Washington derived much more detailed learning expectations. They are listed below. Although these learning expectations are unique to Washington, they resemble what is happening in other states which have adopted the Common Core Standards.

Component 1.1: Prewrites to generate ideas and plan writing.

1.1.1 Applies more than one strategy for generating ideas and planning writing.

  • Generates ideas prior to organizing them and adjusts prewriting strategies accordingly (e.g., brainstorms a list, selects relevant ideas/details to include in piece of writing, uses a story board).
  • Gathers information from a range of sources, formulates questions, and uses an organizer (e.g., electronic graphic organizer, chart) to analyze and/or synthesize to plan writing.

1.2.1 Produces multiple drafts.

  • Refers to a prewriting plan.
  • Drafts by hand and/or electronically.
  • Rereads text and continues drafting over time.
  • Rereads text, puts it away, and returns to it later.

1.3.1 Revises text, including changing words, sentences, paragraphs, and ideas.

  • Rereads work several times and has a different focus for each reading (e.g., first reading — adding details for elaboration; second reading — deleting sentences or phrases to achieve paragraph unity; third reading — reorganizing ideas for meaning).
  • Records feedback using writing group procedure (e.g., partner underlines telling sentences, such as “I had fun,” and writer changes to show detail, “I squealed as the roller coaster sped around a corner.”).
  • Makes decisions about writing based on feedback (e.g., revision before final draft).
  • Uses multiple resources to identify needed changes (e.g., writing guide, peer, adult, computer, thesaurus).

1.4.1 Applies understanding of editing appropriate for grade level (see 3.3).

  • Identifies and corrects errors in grade level conventions.
  • Uses multiple resources regularly (e.g., dictionary, peer, adult, available technology, writing guide).
  • Proofreads final draft for errors.

1.5.1 Publishes in more than one format for specific audiences and purposes.

  • Publishes using a variety of publishing options (e.g., book, poster).
  • Publishes multipage pieces and attends to format, graphics, illustrations, and other text features (e.g., captioned photos, maps).
  • Publishes for a wide range of purposes, in different forms and formats.
  • Uses a variety of available technology as part of publication (e.g., slide show, overhead projector, publication software).

1.6.1 Applies understanding of the recursive nature of writing process.

  • Revises at any stage of process.
  • Edits as needed at any stage.

1.6.2 Uses collaborative skills to adapt writing process.

  • Contributes to different parts of writing process when working on a class poetry book (e.g., individuals draft poem; group plans format together; individuals submit word processed poems; team edits; class publishes).

1.6.3 Uses knowledge of time constraints to adjust writing process.

  • Works on one draft over several days or weeks adjusting work to fit the time frame.
  • Allots amount of time for each stage of writing process for on-demand writing.
  • Adjusts the number of drafts for on-demand tasks.

Component 2.1: Adapts writing for a variety of audiences.

2.1.1 Applies understanding of multiple and varied audiences to write effectively.

  • Identifies an intended audience.
  • Identifies and includes information a diverse audience needs to know (e.g., explains prior events, makes no assumptions about audience’s prior knowledge, such as defining an ollie in skateboarding).
  • Anticipates readers’ questions and writes accordingly.

2.2.1 Demonstrates understanding of different purposes for writing.

  • Writes to analyze informational text or data (e.g., explains the steps of a scientific investigation).
  • Writes to learn (e.g., math learning logs, reflections, double-entry logs, steps/strategies used to solve math problems), to tell a story, to explain, and to persuade.
  • Writes for more than one purpose using the same form (e.g., a letter used to explain, to request, or to persuade).
  • Includes more than one mode within a piece to address purpose (e.g., descriptive details or narrative anecdote within an explanation.

2.3.1 Uses a variety of forms/genres.

  • Includes more than one form/genre in a single piece (e.g., a report about salmon that includes a poem, fact box, and story).
  • Maintains a log or portfolio to track variety of forms/genres used.
  • Produces a variety of new forms/genres. Examples:
    ~ interviews
    ~ autobiographies
    ~ business letters
    ~ expository essays
    ~ persuasive advertisements
    ~ field observation notes
    ~ book reviews
    ~ rhyming couplets
    ~ raps

2.4.1 Produces documents used in a career setting.

  • Collaborates with peers on writing projects (e.g., social studies reports, science lab reports).
  • Writes in forms associated with specific tasks or careers (e.g., fund-raising receipts, student council applications, data collection forms).

Component 3.1: Develops ideas and organizes writing.

3.1.1 Analyzes ideas, selects a narrow topic, and elaborates using specific details and/or examples.

  • Narrows topic with controlling idea (e.g., from general topic, such as baseball, to specific topic, such as “The Mariners are my favorite baseball team.”).
  • Selects details relevant to the topic to extend ideas and develop elaboration (e.g., specific words and phrases, reasons, anecdotes, facts, descriptions, examples).
  • Uses personal experiences, observations, and research to support opinions and ideas (e.g., data relevant to the topic to support conclusions in math, science, or social studies; appropriate anecdotes to explain or persuade).
  • Varies leads and endings in narratives.
  • Sequences ideas and uses transitional words and phrases to link events, reasons, facts, and opinions within and between paragraphs (e.g., order of importance — least, most).
  • Organizes clearly:
    ~ comparisons (e.g., point-by-point)
    ~ explanations (e.g., save most important point for last)
    ~ persuasion (e.g., if-then)
    ~ narratives (e.g., problem-solution-outcome).

3.1.2 Uses an effective organizational structure.

  • Writes in a logically organized progression of unified paragraphs.
  • Develops an interesting introduction in expository writing (e.g., leads with the five W’s, an interesting fact).
  • Develops an effective ending that goes beyond a repetition of the introduction (e.g., summary, prediction).
  • Varies leads and endings in narratives.
  • Sequences ideas and uses transitional words and phrases to link events, reasons, facts, and opinions within and between paragraphs (e.g., order of importance — least, most).
  • Organizes clearly:
    ~ comparisons (e.g., point-by-point)
    ~ explanations (e.g., save most important point for last)
    ~ persuasion (e.g., if-then)
    ~ narratives (e.g., problem-solution-outcome.

3.2.1 Applies understanding that different audiences and purposes affect writer’s voice.

  • Writes with a clearly defined voice appropriate to audience (e.g., informal versus formal voice).
  • Writes in appropriate and consistent voice in narrative, informational, and persuasive writing (e.g., a “how to” paper vs. a persuasive piece).

3.2.2 Uses language appropriate for a specific audience and purpose.

  • Uses precise language (e.g., powerful verbs, specific descriptors).
  • Uses formal, informal, and specialized language (e.g., photosynthesis, ratio, expedition) appropriate for audience and purpose.
  • Uses literary and sound devices (e.g., similes, personification, rhythm). • Selects words for effect.

3.2.3 Uses a variety of sentences.

  • Writes a variety of sentence lengths.
  • Writes a variety of sentence beginnings (e.g., starts with a participial phrase: “Laughing loudly, they walked down the hall.”).
  • Writes a variety of sentence structures (e.g., “Tran, busy with his homework, didn’t hear the telephone at first. Although he wanted to keep working, Tran took the call. He kept it short.”).
  • Writes with a rhythm pattern.

3.3.1 Uses legible handwriting.

  • • Maintains consistency in printing or cursive handwriting (e.g., size, spacing, formation, uppercase and lowercase).

3.2.2 Spells words appropriate for the grade level accurately.

  • Uses spelling rules and patterns from previous grades.
  • Spells high-frequency words correctly.
  • Uses multiple strategies to spell. Examples:
    ~ Visual patterns (e.g., -ion endings)
    ~ Sound patterns (e.g., easily confused endings -able / -ible, -ant /-ent)
    ~ Affixes (e.g., pre-, in-, un-, -ed, -ing, -graph)
    ~ Rules (e.g., “i” before “e” rule).
  • Self-corrects spelling errors.
  • Develops a personal spelling list.
  • Uses resources to find correct spelling for words identified as misspelled.

3.3.3 Applies capitalization rules.

  • Uses capitalization rules from previous grades.
  • Capitalizes brand names (e.g., Nike).
  • Capitalizes geographic regions (e.g., the West).
  • Uses resources.

3.3.4 Applies punctuation rules.

  • Uses punctuation rules from previous grades.
  • Uses periods in abbreviations (e.g., pg., ft.).
  • Uses commas to set off interjections (e.g., Okay, if you say so.) or
    explanatory phrases (e.g., They stood together, away from the pile of stones in the corner, and their voices were quiet.).
  • Uses comma after date or address within text (e.g., June 1, 1993, was an important day in my life.).
  • Uses quotation marks in dialogue correctly (e.g., “How’s it going?” the boy asked.).
  • Uses hyphen in numbers (e.g., twenty-three).
  • Uses hyphen to join numbers (e.g., pages 1-3, The Mariners won, 17-6.).
  • Uses ellipsis ( . . . ) correctly:
    ~ to show omitted words
    ~ to show a pause.
  • Uses semicolon correctly between two independent clauses.
  • Uses resources to check punctuation.

3.3.5. Applies usage rules.

  • Applies usage rules from previous grades.
  • Uses subject vs. object pronouns correctly (e.g., I vs. me).
  • Uses resources to check usage.

3.3.6 Uses complete sentences in writing.

  • • May use fragments in dialogue as appropriate.

3.3.7 Applies paragraph conventions.

  • Uses paragraph conventions (e.g., designated by indentation or block format, skipping lines between paragraphs).
  • Uses new paragraphs to change speakers in dialogue.

3.3.8 Applies conventional forms for citations.

  • Cites sources in research using a bibliographic format.

Component 4.1: Analyzes and evaluates others’ and own writing.

4.1.1 Analyzes and evaluates writing using established criteria.

  • Identifies professional authors’ styles and techniques (e.g., leads,
    conclusions, word choice, purpose, character, and plot development).
  • Critiques peers’ writing and supports the opinion using established criteria (e.g., content, organization, style, conventions).
  • Explains accuracy of content and vocabulary for specific curricular areas (e.g., in science — looking for conclusions drawn from data).

4. 1.2  Analyzes and evaluates own writing using established criteria.

  • Explains strengths and weaknesses of own writing using criteria (e.g., WASL rubric and anchor papers, checklists, 6-trait scoring guides).
  • Uses criteria to choose and defend choices for a writing portfolio.
  • Provides evidence that goals have been met (e.g., “My sentence fluency has
    improved because I now vary the beginnings of my sentences.”

4.2.1 Evaluates and adjusts writing goals using criteria.

  • Writes reflection about growth in writing and creates an improvement plan (e.g., “My introductions are getting better, but I need to learn about different kinds of conclusions.”).
  • Evaluates own use of writing process and sets goals (e.g., “After I brain-storm, I need to organize my ideas so my writing flows in a logical order.”).
  • Maintains a written log of goals.

Realistic goals? Remember this is one part–writing–of one course–English Language Arts–for fifth graders.  We’ll know more in June when the first class of Washington’s fifth graders completes this curriculum.