NYCCLS: Writing Instruction

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Good educators use a standards-based curriculum to guide their instruction. The New York Common Core Learning Standards in Writing focus on preparing students to be college and career ready in writing by focusing on specific topics and skills, which we'll review in this lesson.

Why Use Learning Standards?

Believe it or not, not too long ago teachers were given a lot more freedom in curriculum design and instruction than they are today. Many districts and schools didn't have specific goals and objectives for grade levels or defined outcomes for students. Teachers also had a lot of say in what they taught in their classrooms. This worked well for some educators who were fluent and confident about what children need in order to succeed.

However, there were some problems with this type of freedom. For one, many teachers want and need guidance for curricula. It's also important for there to be continuity between grade levels and schools. If Billy transfers to a new school, he should be learning roughly the same concepts there as he was at his old one. Finally, by identifying standards, goals, and objectives, we set the bar for learning and make sure we're preparing students for a bright future.

The New York Common Core Learning Standards

At first, different states adopted their own learning goals and objectives. Later, a move to create more uniform, national standards was the focus. You may have heard of the Common Core, the proposed standards for all states to adopt. Though many states now use the Common Core State Standards, several states have chosen to use their own. For example, New York uses a version titled the New York Common Core Learning Standards, or NYCCLS.

These standards focus on core subject content, such as math, reading, writing, and science. The primary goal of the standards is to prepare students for college and career readiness. In other words, in following these standards, students will be prepared for life after graduation. Let's take a look at the specific standards identified for writing.

NYCCLS and Writing Instruction

The NYCCLS focuses on the types of writing students should produce, such as narrative or information. It also contains a strand focusing on how students produce and distribute their writing as well as on the research they conduct and the amount of time they spend writing daily. Finally, these strands are broken down by grade level to make specific concepts age-appropriate. Let's go ahead and break this down for you a bit.

Types and Purposes

The NYCCLS first divides their standards into three types as mentioned above. Over the course of the year, students will write:

  • Opinion pieces that allow them to form and support a stance on a particular topic. For example, a fifth grade student may write an essay on banning homework. He will need to research the legitimacy of his claim and provide evidence to support his stance.
  • Informational pieces that teach and inform the reader. A ninth-grade student may write about Winston Churchill, focusing on his time before becoming Prime Minister. This student will also be required to research the topic and support information with citations from her research.
  • Narrative pieces with the intention of entertaining. Narrative writing can take a wide variety of forms, such as poetry or fiction. A 12th grade class may study poetry by Langston Hughes, then attempt some of his style in their own writing.

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