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Teaching Writing Across the K12 Curriculum

Professional development for teachers.

To teach Common Core effectively, teachers will have to share such teaching methods within their school districts, says Richard Vacca, professor emeritus of Kent State University and a co-author of Content Area Reading: Literacy and Learning Across the Curriculum. “Traditional professional development was always kind of an add-on,” Vacca says. “The difference (with Common Core) is that it’s going to be ongoing and embedded within a district rather than” about bringing an outside person in, he says.

And Barbara Kapinus, director of English Language Arts and literacy for SMARTER Balanced, adds that in the “best of all worlds,” professional development should entail “teachers sitting down in smaller groups looking at samples of kids’ work and talking about what they see and (how) they’d like the kids to do better.”

This is already happening in some states. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg (N.C.) Schools, teachers are sharing grade rubrics and student writing samples from the World War II performance task and using the information to write lessons on their own, says Jami D. Rodgers, humanities literacy specialist for the district.

By increasing information-based and argumentative writing with Common Core, educators believe teachers can elevate the level of discourse so that students can effectively communicate in every subject.

“What the Common Core is doing more than anything else is emphasizing literate behavior, teaching kids how to use literacy to learn and make sense of the world,” says Vacca. “That’s going to take a lot of concentrated instruction. It’s a process. To the extent that teachers focus on writing and reading across the curriculum, it’s going to be better than if they were just teaching their subject matter and assuming kids know how to learn it.”