Reading and Writing

Best Practices

According to the authors of Best Practice...

...it is common for reading to come first on everyone's list of basic academic skills. After all, literacy is essential for virtually every aspect of life: it's in things like driving (road signs) and working (safety instructions), on top of school.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards says that highly qualified reading teachers

- are avid readers themselves - model their own cognitive processess for reading

- explicitly teach reading strategies - tap students' curiosity and motivation

- create a climate of collaboration - invite students to make connections between texts - promote close readings of texts and their own life experiences

Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for Reading

Key Ideas and Details

1. Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.

2. Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

3. Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.

Craft and Structure

4. Interpret phrases and words as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.

5. Analyze the structure of texts, including how specific sentences, paragraphs, and larger portions of the text (e.g., a section, chapter, scene, or stanza) relate to each other and the whole.

6. Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

7. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

8. Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

9. Analyze how two or more texts address similar themes or topics in order to build knowledge or to compare the approaches the authors take.

Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

10. Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently.

The CCSS do not instruct educators on how to teach writing...

...but instead focus on outcomes of writing: how can the students demonstrate their knowledge and skills?


What these standards don't address, and what teachers can productively focus on, is the work of actually leading students to learn and produce good writing, and to carry their skills forward for "college and career readiness" - which is standards' stated goal.

Best Practices for teaching writing...

  • Instructing students on planning, revising, and editing compositions

  • Engaging students in prewriting activities

  • Conducting inquiry activities that lead to writing

  • Having students write collaboratively

  • Having students read models for writing

  • Using writing for learning content

  • All children can and should write

  • Help students find real purposes to write and real audiences to reach

  • Help students exercise choice, take ownership, and assume responsibility

  • Provide opportunities for students to experience the complete writing process

  • Help students get started

  • Guide students as they draft and revise

  • Show students how writing is created

  • Lead students to learn the craft of writing

  • Confer with individual students on their writing

  • Teach grammar and mechanics in the context of actual writing

  • Provide a classroom context of shared learning- students sharing their work out loud in a supportive classroom.

  • Using writing to support learning throughout the curriculum

  • Use evaluation constructively and efficiently