Writing Standard 10 calls for students to “write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.” This range of writing has implications for all classrooms.
Students should be writing “routinely.” This means that writing is happening daily, and throughout the school day in various classrooms. The standards require that writing be shared responsibility amongst all teachers. While writing within the disciplines will not include a focus on the language standards, the intent of the core is to hold students to the high standards expected within each discipline. What would count as “quality” in a science journal? in a industrial tech’ review? in a college-level art classroom?
Creating a “range of tasks, purposes and audiences” means purposeful planning of units. Teachers must carefully consider how authentic writing purposes will support the learning within the unit. So, for example, in science students may be writing a habitat guide for the local state park, while in history students might be evaluating various perspectives on immigration, and in family and consumer science students might be writing reviews of new recipes being tried in the school cafeteria. Some days, the “audience” will be the students themselves, as they organize, reflect and analyze ideas. For example, one day’s writing may be a brief reflection on the moral strengths and weaknesses of a character in a book, while at another time students might be engaged in taking notes for their arguments on energy use and resources. “Writing doesn’t fit” is no longer an option for teachers.
On the College and Career Readiness Page for Writing, the “Note on range and content of student writing” says this:
To build a foundation for college and career readiness, students need to use writing as a tool for learning and communicating to offer and support opinions, demonstrate understanding of the subjects they are studying, and convey real and imagined experiences and events. They learn to appreciate that a key purpose of writing is to communicate clearly to an external, sometimes unfamiliar audience, and they begin to adapt the form and content of their writing to accomplish a particular task and purpose. They develop the capacity to build knowledge on a subject through research projects and to respond analytically to literary and informational sources. To meet these goals, students must devote significant time and effort to writing, producing numerous pieces over short and extended time frames throughout the year.
While the Iowa Core emphasized three text types–argument, informative/explanatory and narrative–this is not meant to limit the variety of writing students might do. Page 23 of Appendix A notes that the narrative category does not include all of the possible forms of creative writing, such as many types of poetry. The Standards purposefully leave the inclusion and evaluation of other such forms to teacher discretion. In addition, page 24 of Appendix A says, “Skilled writers many times use a blend of these three text types to accomplish their purposes.” So, for example, a student might learn to use a brief narrative as an anecdote to support an argument or illustrate a point in an informational piece. In addition, writing in today’s world often means the inclusion of various media, such as illustrations, podcasts, or videos.
Appendix C offers examples of student writing to help teachers and students study the range of writing students might be doing and to understand what counts as “quality” at various grade levels.