We are hearing more and more about writing and Common Core State Standards. So why all the hype?
Writing has always been an interesting topic for educators and students alike. Teachers want students to be strong communicators, using all kinds of media. At times, the emphasis has been on getting young people to write without fear of perfection. Power writing was a term used about a decade ago to get people thinking about frequent, short period of writing that would boost student fluency. As technology has forged new pathways of communication, writing has taken yet another dimension, 140 characters at a time.
Clarification is needed about writing for academic purposes. Our national trend in student achievement has been very disappointing in recent years. Some of this decline could be attributed to a decline in writing skills. If we are thoughtful about what is required for students to write well, we can understand the importance of writing in the learning process. Writing to learn is a skill that has been overlooked in favor of writing to be assessed on what has been learned. There is a major difference.
If we want to know what students know, if we really want to understand how deeply students understand, we should be building extensive writing into our curriculum, everywhere. It is not enough for students to write papers, compositions, essays, or whatever else you wish to name these products, in English Language Arts classes. It is time to return to writing for all content learning.
The Common Core asks us to rethink the writing we ask students to do. Learning through writing just might lead us back to the level of academic achievement that leads industrialized nations.