The Write Stuff

Photo of Suzanne Klein of WriteSteps presenting Common Core writing strategies to elementary principals at the 2012 NAESP conference. Suzanne Klein presenting at March, 2012 NAESP conference.
A report on Suzanne Klein’s Common Core writing presentation to the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

I was drawn to this breakout session not only because Common Core was included in the title, but because writing is an area of challenge for my school, and from what I understand from my peers, for many others.

How many schools have a dedicated “writing time”?
WriteSteps is a Common Core based program that teaches writing to elementary-age students. One of the things I picked up early on in this session is that it is not just the process, but also an attitude, that will make the difference. If teachers are afraid of or unsure how to go about the teaching of writing, the time that is dedicated to writing will continue to be negligible. It seems that most everyone thinks it is important, but the proof is really in the intentional time it is given.

Ms. Klein said “You get what you give.” Schools will continue to get low scores on writing skills if they continue to give it lip service in regards to time. The minimum recommendation to just meet the new Common Core Standard is 50 minutes three days a week for K-1 and 50 minutes four days a week for grades 2-5.

The group had a great discussion on why it is so hard for teachers to implement writing instruction.
One of the biggest obstacles is time. Many teachers feel they don’t have the time, as it would cut into other curricula they feel are more important. The group felt that the teachers themselves do not feel like they are competent in the area of writing. Scoring writing samples is another area that keeps teachers away from giving time to writing instruction. It is evident that that the new Common Core Standards will increase the rigor required when state assessments are conducted.

Writing will take on a new level of importance with the upcoming Common Core State Assessments! WriteSteps has been updated to meet the new Common Core. I would encourage you to check out the WriteSteps website for more specific information.

Guest blogger David M. Hanson is principal at Wyndmere Elementary School in North Dakota. This post appeared first in The Principal’s Office, the blog of the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP).