There are many benefits to having a consistent writing curriculum across K-5 grades in elementary schools.
When walking through classrooms, effective administrators like to see content consistency within and between grade levels. Teachers embrace curriculum that is:
- Effective for all students
- Manageable to cover all grade level specific content within a school year
- Easily implemented during the school day
This was a difficult task for a writing curriculum, until now. WritingCity will help you to observe consistent writing instruction throughout your school, because WritingCity supports teachers in delivering effective writing instruction that students love.
Even the most seasoned teachers and curriculum planners don’t realize the extent of the benefits that exist by having consistent writing curriculum across K-5 grades. Typically, they understand that when it comes to a solid writing curriculum, aligning standards across grades, vertical alignment, is just as important as aligning standards within a year at each grade, horizontal alignment. Standards that are aligned within a grade ensure that instruction is appropriately sequenced over a school year. With proper horizontal alignment, curriculum is designed so that students master the year’s standards by the end of the school year. Standards that are aligned across grade levels help eliminate instructional gaps between the years. Vertical alignment makes it so that what students learn in one grade level provides the foundation for what they will learn in the next. A coherent writing curriculum helps prevent achievement gaps and allows the current teacher and students to pick up where the previous year’s content left off.
However, knowing students’ learning capabilities and progress in writing from one grade level to the next is a luxury most teachers only dream of. In fact, the benefits of having a consistent writing curriculum across grades are too great to ignore! Further, a curriculum that aligns writing standards across grade levels saves teachers time, while also positioning them to be able to deliver effective writing instruction that picks up right where the student left off.
Here are the major benefits of a consistent writing curriculum across grades K-5:
- It builds a strong foundation in the early years for positive outcomes and progression in future writing. It’s important in the early years that writing curriculum be developmentally appropriate for kindergarten and first grade, as it provides strong basic instruction and the building blocks critical to have in place before progression is possible. It also must address standards, as the earliest possible opportunity to prepare students for graduation to the next grade.
- It provides a well-documented snapshot of where students are as writers. When performance and writing samples are stored in an archived student portfolio from one grade to the next, a teacher can get a detailed snapshot of quantitative and qualitative data about that student’s writing skills. Perhaps most useful of all is that the snapshot allows teachers to see where students were performing at the end of the previous year. The practicality of having a snapshot and picking up right where that student left off in the previous grade is obvious to nearly all educators. Finally, it can help significantly with pre-test writing assessments as the newest grade’s teacher learns where to place students.
- It decreases a student’s learning curve. When writing units are taught in the same order throughout the grades, performance goals and expectations scaffold from year to year. Further, review of the previous year is incorporated into each unit so students begin with familiar terms and procedures. The horizontal alignment provides students with multiple opportunities to master writing and grammar skills.=
- Remediation and enrichment are easier. Teachers have the benefit to look at the previous unit and re-teach certain concepts for students who need remediation. At the opposite end of the spectrum, teachers can also view the next year’s unit or modify lesson plans for students who could benefit from enrichment.
- It promotes stronger collaboration among teachers. Vertical alignment, as previously explained, a term that refers to a curriculum that is designed so that what students learn in one year prepares them for the next, ensures proper sharing, or what educational instructors, teachers and administrators refer to as ‘spiraling’ of standards and skills, making it easy for teachers who team teach, departmentalize or teach multi-age classes to plan together and ensure seamless instruction across grades. Vertical alignment helps districts, or schools, make sure that their students are prepared for the next grade. A writing curriculum that is already vertically aligned lets teachers spend their planning time analyzing student writing rather than writing lesson plans. Curriculum leadership involves working with multiple people to ensure that the curriculum is aligned both horizontally and vertically.
Despite the obvious benefits, sadly, teachers simply do not have the time to design lessons that vertically and horizontally align to standards. This is why a writing curriculum that already has the alignment to standards built in is so valuable. It ensures teachers’ time can be spent honing their instruction practices, working with students, and making sure there are no gaps in student writing instruction.