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By Suzanne Klein on 7/18/2014 1:15 PM
By Emil Carafa (pictured on the left of the Cat in the Hat), Principal of Washington Elementary School, past President of the New Jersey Principals Association, and Educator's Leader Cadre Representative of New Jersey for PARCC National Conference

One of the most difficult challenges I have had in my career was to instill a culture of writing at my school. It’s not that we weren’t doing writing at our school, but the question was, “Were we doing the writing effectively across the grades to make our children better writers?” This has been challenge that needed to be met head on during the past years. My quest was to find a writing program where my school could create a culture of writing and utilize this program to improve writing and writing scores across the grade levels.

Collaboration is the key to any successful program or initiative that needs to be implemented in a school. To change the perception of writing in our school, I met with a committee of teachers to discuss writing and what we were looking for. We had been utilizing a grammar and writing program that was part of our reading series, but it wasn’t meeting our needs. 
                                                                                                       
Click the title to read more.

By Suzanne Klein on 4/15/2014 3:13 PM


Have you ever worked hard at teaching your class something only to discover that they don’t apply that learning on the test? I’ve noticed many students seem to struggle with on-demand writing during test taking.

On-demand writing: a situation in which students are presented with a prompt (question or scenario) and are given a specific time limit to complete it.

From the prototypes we are looking at, we are finding that on-demand writing is especially prevalent in Smarter Balanced and PARCC. On-demand writing is also an important skill for students to have in situations such as the rise of social media and college and career readiness.

Time management is the ultimate solution for student success with on-demand writing.  I’ve found that by teaching my students how to allot and judge time during their writing, they’ve become more confident when it comes time for on-demand writing. I did this by having my students practice writing with different timed allocations, beginning with 40 minutes. I then gradually lowered their timed writing to 10 minutes. As your students become more comfortable with timed writing, you will notice their skills improving, especially in their shorter on-demand writing pieces.



By Suzanne Klein on 9/23/2013 12:30 PM

The Common Core Standards call for both types of Response to Text writing. Arlynn King and I continued our conversation on Smarter Balanced and PARCC testing for the Common Core with an emphasis on text-dependent vs. non-text dependent questions. 

Non-text dependent questions ask students to communicate their own thinking, self expression and exploration.  Text-dependent questions ask students to respond to sources and answer questions by drawing on evidence from the text in support of their ideas.

Watch our vlog to learn more!

By Suzanne Klein on 9/1/2013 2:13 PM











What are the differences and similarities between Smarter Balanced and PARCC? Since Common Core is a national curriculum, why aren’t states using one test? How does writing play a role in the tests?

I spoke with Arlynn King, WriteSteps Coaching Director, to answer these questions. We thought it would be valuable to share what we’ve learned about the Smarter Balanced and PARCC tests, and how writing is going to play an important role. Watch the vlog (video blog) below!

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