Consistent instruction in any content area can be difficult to find in many schools, especially those which do not emphasize vertical planning across grade levels. Writing is in an even more precarious position in schools, districts, and states that put more focus and effort into the tested subjects. However, we know that writing across the curriculum can support and strengthen student comprehension in whatever the subject about which they are writing.
All states have standards that address the different genres of writing in each grade level; opinion/argumentative, informative/explanatory, and narrative. In theory, this should mean that students are exposed to the three main types of writing every year with increasing complexity. However, with most grade levels putting more emphasis on the tested subjects and all but neglecting writing in their curriculum, students aren’t getting the instruction and practice they need in each grade. This makes it tough for upper grade levels to complete some of the more important assignments they require. Students who have had little exposure to writing don’t have the experience or tools they will need to compose essays for higher level classes or college admissions.
Vertical planning within schools allows teachers to see the curriculum that is being taught in other grades. With all grade levels teaching the three types of writing, it would be greatly beneficial to talk with other teachers to know what they are doing with each genre so that students are continuously being challenged with more complex activities.
There are tools available in MI Write that support all grade levels and genres of writing which teachers and students can use to close the gaps from year to year. The lessons provided by MI Write have three levels which can be determined by student or teacher regardless of the grade or scoring level assigned to the student. Teachers are able to create their own prompts, as well as recommend them to specific students to differentiate and ensure students are being appropriately challenged and supported throughout the year.
School and district administrator account holders also have the ability to create prompts and assign them to specific grade levels throughout their schools and districts. These prompts are best used as benchmark assignments and track progress not only throughout the year but over multiple years. One fun way to incorporate this is to create prompts on the same topic — maybe a holiday or a special school function — (adjust it for appropriate complexity) and have a school-wide contest! With this bird’s eye view of the whole school, admins can see where gaps are between grade levels and better address them with the teachers.
Ensuring consistent and appropriate writing instruction in each grade level can be tough to do without proper support. MI Write is here to help fill in those gaps and give educators the tools and the confidence to prepare their students for all writing needs. Reach out to us today to find out more about how we can help you support your teachers and encourage your students to grow their writing skills!