But, with our new Common Core standards, it isn't enough for the students to read and discuss anymore. Writing is equally as important to use as a vehicle with which to convey your thoughts and learning. So I wanted my students to take their reading and discussions a step further and convey their thoughts through a written essay.
But it wasn't.
This was actually REALLY hard for them. Let me explain why.
The focus of the essay was to relay to the reader both the positive and negative effects of the Columbian Exchange. Easy enough. What was difficult was the next part. They needed to include evidence from the text, the very evidence they were highlighting, annotating, and discussing, into their written work. That was where things got hard!
They then used that organizer, as well as the texts themselves, to create their paragraphs. What actually made this entire process a bit easier to handle was the fact that the kids have been doing Paragraph of the Week for quite some time now, so the format is old hat to them. They were able to see that the "detail" sentence was their idea and the "explanation" sentence was evidence from the text.
However, writing the evidence so that it flowed well and made sense within the context of the paragraph was tricky. Knowing when to paraphrase and when to quote directly was very, very, very hard. Heck, it is hard for me. But the kids tried. They were discussing their evidence in partner talks. Thinking aloud their paragraphs. Deciding upon what textual evidence should be used and which shouldn't. Lots of heavy talking was going on in the planning/drafting stages of this piece.
So while the final products aren't perfect and don't represent a complete grasp of the standards at hand, the kids DID *understand* what it was that I was asking them to do. They know what it means to cite evidence and back up your statements with examples from the text. So even though the writing isn't the most awesome thing ever....that doesn't matter. They get it and are working towards mastery of this very, very difficult skill.
So I say that our first attempt at bridging the CCSS gap between reading and writing is an overwhelming success!
What have you done to connect your close reading and writing?