Tuesday, April 2, 2013

College and Career Readiness: Writing — FAQs

Want to learn more about our new series, College and Career Readiness: Writing?

We sat down with the series creator, Doug Grudzina, and asked him a little bit about the program. Here's what he told us:

1. What is College and Career Readiness: Writing?
College and Career Readiness: Writing is a four-year writing series designed expressly to teach students the types and purposes of writing described in the Common Core State Standards as essential for a high school graduate.

Models and scoring guides at each level help students attain the high quality of writing necessary for their successful entry into college or a career.

2. What is “College and Career Readiness”?
“College and Career Readiness” is the phrase adopted by the Common Core State Standards Initiative to describe the ultimate goal of a standards-based educational program. In past state and national endeavors, the standard became an end in itself, and instruction was geared toward helping students “meet the standard.” The CCSSI, however, recognizes that the objective is not the standard but a state of readiness.

3. What types of writing are covered in the series?
Every type and purpose of writing described in the Common Core State Standards is covered: Narrative/Personal, Informative/Explanatory, Argumentative/Persuasive. Each assignment is designed to address the specific descriptors and criteria of each type of writing at every grade level.

Because the standards also describe long-term research projects as well as short, timed, and impromptu writing opportunities, these are also included.

4. Toward what grade levels is this series geared?
The complete series will be geared for grades 9 through 12.

5. Why did you begin the series in the middle with Grades 10 and 11?
The Common Core State Standards at the 9 – 12 level are divided into two clusters: 9 – 10 and 11 – 12. We decided to introduce our series by creating one book for each cluster, hence 10 and 11. When developed, the Grade 9 book will cover the introductory and “first-step” skills assumed in the Grade 10 book, and the Grade 12 book will complete what the student has almost mastered in Grade 11 to make him or her fully college and career ready.

6. Is this series sequential or recursive?
Like the standards themselves, the College and Career Readiness: Writing series is recursive. At each grade level, students revisit the same types and purposes of writing, but each level requires (and fosters) more mature thinking and reasoning, increased sophistication, and greater confidence and competence in every aspect of the thinking and writing process.

7. Who should use this series?
Certainly any school that is adapting its curriculum to address the Common Core State Standards will find this series essential as the core of its across-the-curriculum writing program. Even private schools and homeschool organizations that are not directly accountable to the standards will find that the instruction and assignments in this series will produce college-and-career-ready students by the end of twelfth grade.

In short, every student bound for college or a post-school career (and his or her teachers) will benefit from College and Career Readiness: Writing.

8. Is this book intended for use as core curriculum or as a supplemental text?
College and Career Readiness: Writing is intended for use as your core writing program, grades 9 – 12, across several disciplines, especially English language arts and social studies.

9. Can this series be used in an interdisciplinary writing program (writing across the curriculum)?
Absolutely. You will find this series especially useful in pairing English language arts and social studies reading and writing. Every type and purpose of writing covered invites topics from multiple disciplines. Many of the student models illustrate writing in non-ELA settings.

The research section includes two full research projects: an ELA/literary topic and something from another discipline.

10. Is this series compatible with the Common Core State Standards?
More than compatible, these books are written with the standards at the core of the instruction. Each teacher’s guide explicitly lays out the Common Core State Standard addressed by every part of every assignment. The language in the scoring rubrics is drawn directly from the standards to guarantee that everything the student writes — and the rigor with which it is scored — will foster the student’s meeting or surpassing grade-level and graduation-requirement standards as they are developed.

11. The standards are eventually going to be tied to a national assessment network or system. Will this series help prepare my students for success on these exams?
Absolutely. Several of the mini-lessons in the book address assessment essays with planning and timing strategies developed from our experience with SAT, SAT II, ACT, AP, and a number of state writing assessments.

12. There is a research component to the Common Core Standards. Is there a research component to these books?
Yes there is. Each book contains an extensive chapter on the Research Project, modeling the writing of two research papers, one on an ELA topic and one on a topic from another discipline.

The ELA project in every book models MLA-style citation and documentation. The non-ELA projects model APA and Turabian style.

13. Why isn’t this just another writing series?
First of all, this series is truly recursive. At every grade level, in the student models and in the scoring rubrics, growth is expected. For example, the type of thesis statement, depth of insight, or sophistication of organizational plan, that are perfectly acceptable in a ninth-grade essay simply will not receive a passing score in the eleventh (And this is explicitly explained to the students throughout the books).

14. My school’s students are advanced and brilliant. Must we start with the Grade 9 book in grade 9?
You know your students. If the instructions and models in the Grade 9 book do not reflect your students’ ability, by all means move them to a higher level. The series is truly recursive, so your students will learn and practice every type and purpose of writing every year. However, the instructions and models are rigorous, as the standards themselves are rigorous. The Grade 9 book might just be the right level for your students.

15. My school’s students are all working below grade level. Can I reasonably expect them to reach a state of college and career readiness?
Again, you know your students, their backgrounds, and their needs. Because the standards are clustered, and the books themselves are designed with those clusters in mind, you may find it beneficial to begin with the Grade 9 book and use it for two years; then transition to the Grade 11 book to use for two years.

All of the assignments are carefully scaffolded to help you take even a reluctant or challenged student to a higher level of achievement.

There you have it, straight from the man himself! Look for College and Career Readiness: Writing at our website on Thursday, April 4th.

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