In my April newsletter article, I introduced Paula Freiermuth’s eight steps for teaching the Writing Standards. I also shared three examples of her reading-writing tasks at Levels A-C. In this article, I will share her six writing task tips and three more of her examples at Levels C-E.
Writing Task Tips
Paula provides six tips for creating high-quality writing tasks based on close readings of text*:
- Use the language of the writing standard or leveled skill
- Require students to gather, organize and present evidence from the text
- Expect students to return to the text
- Give writers an opportunity to explore what they learned from the text
- Have writers explore the most essential ideas from the text
- Create tasks that are reasonable in terms of the time and energy allotted for completion
* Remember that text can be presented in oral (voice, audio), visual (image, graphic, video), and print (word, sentence, paragraph, passage) formats. Effective instruction at all CCRS/ELA levels should include oral or visual supports such as read alouds, talk alouds, group discussions, paired readings, and related print or digital images. Intentional teacher scaffolding helps students work effectively and independently with a variety of texts across the reading and writing anchors.
Here are three more of Paula’s reading-writing tasks at Levels C-E or GE 4-12:
Anchors 7- 9, Level C: Research Project Task for career investigation using multiple print texts and digital sources.
We have spent the last few weeks looking at different careers. You have looked at several careers you might be interested in. You have researched job duties, pay and benefits, and required training or education. Write one to three paragraphs about the career you are most interested in and why. Include a summary of your research and organize your paper with an introduction, body, and conclusion. List all of your sources at the end. Type your final paper and follow the rules for grammar, usage, and mechanics. You may include graphs, charts, or photographs – if appropriate.
Anchor 2, Level D: Informative/Explanatory Task for “What It Means to be Colored in Capital of the US”, an excerpt of a 1906 speech by Mary Church Terrell.
Write one or more paragraphs that explain Ms. Terrell’s theme or message. Cite specific evidence to support your writing. Your paragraphs should do the following:
- State what you believe is the central theme, message, or idea of the speech
- Explain, cite, and/or paraphrase at least 3 details from the speech
- Be organized and use transition words to move from one idea to the next
- Use correct grammar, punctuation, and spelling
Anchor 1, Level E: Opinion/Argument Task for Vaccines at vaccines.procon.org.
Write an argumentative essay about the topic of vaccines. Identify an issue connected to this topic and develop a claim in favor of or opposed to vaccinations. Research for claim and counter-claim evidence and include supporting details, examples, and expert opinions. Your last draft must be reviewed by a peer editor or the teacher. Your final essay must be word-processed and include a “Works Cited” section at the end.
One of Paula’s cited sources was Achieve the Core at achievethecore.org. In my June article, I will share more reading-writing tasks from this comprehensive Common Core website.