Madison County Schools
Writing and the College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS)
The College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS) give a lot of attention to writing. The reason for this area of focus is clear. According to David Conley (2007), "If we could institute only one change to make students more college ready, it should be to increase the amount and quality of writing students are expected to produce." Researchers from Vanderbilt University (Graham & Hebert, 2010) support Conley's decree. They conducted a meta-analysis of more than 100 studies on writing in the classroom and found that asking students to write regularly about the texts they read in science, social studies, and language arts has a significant and positive influence on student comprehension. The referenced research provides insight on why the Writing CCRS Anchor Standards include a mode of writing that is not typically embedded in other state standards: argumentative (W.CCR.1). Since survey results from university faculty members and employers indicate it is crucial for students to use sound logic and demonstrate ability in responding to varied perspectives, the argumentative mode of writing is powerful because it forces writers to think critically and consider multiple viewpoints.
An examination of our school district's ACT Aspire Assessment results, from the spring 2014 administration, for students in grades 3-8, revealed that writing is a subject area in need of improvement. Although ACT developed a writing rubric for the referenced assessment, annotated writing samples have not been disseminated. Therefore, it may prove beneficial for teachers and/or administrators to review the annotated samples of student writing at www.corestandards.org/assets/Appendix_C.pdf (also shown at bottom of paragraph). The referenced website provides sample writing for each grade level that meets or exceeds the minimum level of proficiency demanded by the CCRS. Student writing samples are also provided for each grade level across all three of the text types required by the standards: argument, informational/expository, and narrative. The annotations explain how a sample meets the requirements of the grade-level standards. Mr. Scott Weeks also located other websites that will be advantageous for teachers to review. Thanks, Mr. Weeks! They are listed below:
- Learning Forward Conference - December 6-10, 2014; Nashville, TN; Key Topics Include: Key Supports for CCRS Implementation, Inquiring into the Common Core State Standards, Common Core State Standards, Professional Learning Communities, and the Instructional Framework, and much more! http://learningforward.org/docs/default-source/annual-conference/annual-conference-program.pdf
- NCTM Institute - February 6 - 7, 2015; Charleston, SC; Effective Teaching with Principles to Actions: Implementing the College and Career Ready Standards http://www.nctm.org/winter/
- National Conference on Common Core Instruction - February 21 - 22, 2015; Las Vegas, Nevada; Key Topics Include: Assessment Practices that Drive Instruction, Instructional Implications of the New Assessments, and much more! http://www.commoncorevegas.com/
- ASCD Conference - March 21 - 23, 2015 ; Houston, TX; More than 350 sessions! http://annualconference.ascd.org/attendee/main.aspxgclid=CIPYl4rRgMICFSgQ7AodrzgAMA
Schools and District Share 1st Semester Happenings that Assist with CCRS Implementation
Sparkman Middle School
Riverton Elementary School
Sparkman Middle School
- There is a Reading-Writing Connection across content areas (ELA, Science, Social Studies)
- Instructional Shifts in Writing occur across the curriculum
- Close Reading across content areas (ELA, Science, Social Studies)
- 5 Myths About Rigor article reviewed
- Collaborative Planning of rigorous lessons using the EQuIP Tri-State Rubric
- Content teachers (ELA, Science, Social Studies) book study groups – Teaching Students to READ Like DETECTIVES: Comprehending, Analyzing, and Discussing Text by Fisher, Frey, and Lapp
- Focus on Productive Struggle in the classroom (Teaching Channel video clip)
- Common Core Resources Pinterest Board at http://www.pinterest.com/msarredondo/common-core-resources/
- MCSS Common Core Resources LiveBinder at http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=826731
- ACT Aspire Exemplar Writing Test Questions w/ ACT Writing Competencies Model (pgs. 27 & 28)
- Math Book Study- Teaching Student Centered mathematics for Grades 6-8- for all math teachers to gain insight into student misconceptions and develop higher cognitive activities
- Math Minute Newsletter to keep CCRS big ideas and activities in the spotlight
- CCRS Flipbooks printed for all math teachers to use
- “Never Say Anything A Kid Can Say” article reviewed
- We Dig into each grade level’s core standards
Riverton Elementary School
- Teachers utilizing the Exemplars
- Teacher book study using "Rigor is Not a Four Letter Word" - Administrator act as facilitator
- Project based learning activities for students occur across the curriculum
- Project based learning team of teachers
- STEM Mondays for 3rd grade - "Mad Scientist Theme."
- Standards based lesson plans
- Usage of Alabama Insight Tool
- Eight Mathematical Standards of Practice Posters
- Flip Books used from AMSTI Math Trainings
- Turn Around PD Article Study - "Never Say Anything a Kid Can't Say"
- Teacher book study "Daily 5" - Teacher as facilitator
- Power Planning and Faculty Meeting PD Sessions - Close Reading, Fluency, Formative Assessment, Effective Questioning Strategies
- Data Walks via our school's Data Den Focus for Instructional Rounds
- Student Centered Instruction
- CCRS Express Newsletter
- MCBOE CCRS Website at https://www.madison.k12.al.us/departments/instruction/studentassessment/Pages/CCSS.aspx
- CCRS Implementation Team attends SDE Quarterly CCRS Meetings
- The CCRS implementation Team shares the activities they learn from the SDE Quarterly CCRS Meetings with the instructional leaders, of each school, in Assistant Principals' meeting
- Assistant Principals share the CCRS activities learned in their 'CCRS Turn Around' AP meeting with their faculty: How to analyze a unit plan using the EQuIP rubric, How the standards connect across multiple lessons to provide scaffolding during Tier One instruction, and formative assessment strategies
- Instructional Rounds continue in elementary schools with a focus on rigorous lessons (fine-grained evidence) and active student engagement/collabo-ration.
- NMSI (formerly LTF) training - Individual grade level binders created by Shannon Pitts, Tina Hamlet and MCBOE Instructional Department. Binders contains: Table of Contents, Madison County Pacing Guide, CCRS Domain Plan with CCRS listed and tagged with the lessons that address that specific standard, All of the NMSI lessons listed in the domain plan, Formative assessment question that correspond to the NMSI lesson
CCRS Websites Every Teacher Should Explore!
The ALSDE's CCRS website (ALEX) also contains a wide variety of resources that include teacher videos, games, lesson plan activities, high-impact strategies, and more! Additionally, handouts from each CCRS Implementation Team meeting can be accessed from the Resources tab. Simply go to http://alex.state.al.us/ccrs/ to access the referenced site.
Seven Myths About Rigor
During a recent College and Career Ready Standards (CCRS) Implementation Team meeting, Mr. Solley asked members to discuss what was still needed in schools to ensure full-fledged implementation of the CCRS. The comments generated from the discussion were intuitive. "I believe some of the teachers are not really clear about what rigor means," responded one team member. "There is a misconception that a rigorous lessons means teaching a 4th grade lesson to 3rd graders," she further elaborated. The viewpoint cited was very astute. The CCRS reinforce the need for increased rigor in lessons. So, it is important that instructors realize that rigor is simply creating an environment in which each student is expected and supported to learn at high levels. It is also crucial they are aware of the seven myths about rigor, as defined by Blackburn (2011).
Myth One: Lots of homework is a sign of rigor.
For many people the best indicator of rigor is the amount of homework required of students. Realistically, all homework is not equally useful. Some of it is just busywork, assigned by teachers because principals or parents expect it.
Myth Two: Rigor means doing more.
"Doing more" often means doing more low-level activities, frequently repetitions of things already learned. Such narrow and rigid approaches to learning do not define a rigorous classroom. Ultimately, it is the quality of the assignment that makes a difference in terms of rigor.
Myth Three: Rigor is not for everyone.
Often, teachers think the only way to assure success for everyone is to lower standards and lessen rigor. This may mask a hidden belief that some students can't really learn at high levels. However, every student can complete rigorous work at high levels, whether they are advanced or a student with special needs.
Myth Four: Providing support means lessening rigor.
Supporting students so that they can learn at high levels is central to the definition of rigor. As teachers design lessons moving students toward more challenging work, they must provide scaffolding to support them as they learn.
Myth Five: Resources equal rigor.
The right resources can certainly help increase the rigor in classrooms. However, raising the level of rigor for students is not dependent on the resources instructors have in the classroom. For instance, students can use a worksheet to rewrite all false answers into true statements. This simple activity requires students to demonstrate understanding. It's not the resources; it's how you use them that make a difference.
Myth Six: Standards alone take care of rigor.
Standards alone, even if they are rigorous, do not guarantee rigor in the classroom. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are designed to increase the level of rigor in the classrooms across the nation. However, if implemented without high levels of questioning or applications, the standards themselves are weakened.
Myth Seven: Rigor is just one more thing to do.
Rigor is not another thing to add to your plate. Instead, rigor is increasing the level of expectation of what you are already doing. For example, if you are teaching vocabulary, instead of asking students to write their own definition of the word, ask them to write a riddle. It's the same end result, but at higher levels of Bloom's Taxonomy.
District's CCRS Implementation Team
- Lorraine Boone
- Tim Solley
- Mary Stump
- Nancy Curry
- Karen Jensen
- Vickey Sullivan
- Janet Slaughter
SYSTEM MATH REPRESENTATIVES
- Kim Gulledge
- Leanne Helums
- Sharon Walker
- Sara Harris
- Shannon Pitts
- Ryan Dennis
SYSTEM ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS REPRESENTATIVES
- Melanie Cullen
- Dawn Kirby
- Lora Snell
- Linda Arredondo
- Mary Hughes
- Jessica Aguire-Cantrell
- Amanda Skelton
SYSTEM CONTENT AREA REPRESENTATIVES
- Keri Glass
- Scott McMickin
- Whitney Boggus
- Deanna Sanders
- Brenda Lewis
- Melissa Mann
- Holly Whitt