Common Core Tip 46—Writing Anchor Standard 5 and the Importance of Feedback
Writing Anchor Standard 5 expects that students learn to "develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach."
In other words, they must learn to use the writing process. It’s challenging to teach children to care about improving their writing (or using the writing process) unless they have some awareness of who their readers might be.
Donald Graves, a trailblazer in writing instruction for children, often said that if students couldn’t return to a piece of writing at least three times a week, it wasn’t worth doing. That’s because improving our writing takes a lot of thought and perseverance. It also takes feedback. We need to know if our writing is clear to the reader. We need someone to tell us where they got confused or when they needed more information to make sense of what we are trying to say. We also need to know when our writing worked.
In many classrooms, the audience for student writing has been limited to the teacher and potential test scorers. To get students to take the work of improving writing seriously, we need to expand their understanding about who their readers might be. We also need to teach them how to ask for and consider feedback from those who represent their audience. In most cases this will be their peers and the adults in the classroom.
As you read through and think about the following spiral across the grades for Standard 5, note the role of guidance and support of adults and peers at every level. When you are teaching Being a Writer lessons, take into consideration not only the feedback you are giving students, but also the opportunities to teach students to give one another helpful feedback. Getting the right kind of guidance and support will be critical for developing independent and proficient writers.
With guidance and support from adults:
- In kindergarten, respond to questions and suggestions from peers and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
- In grade 1, focus on a topic, respond to questions and suggestions from peers, and add details to strengthen writing as needed.
With guidance and support from adults and peers,
- In grade 2, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.
With guidance and support from peers and adults,
- In grades 3 and 4, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing.
- In grade 5, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.