The Reading and Writing Connection In the Era of Higher Standards {and a FREEBIE!}

Hello everyone and happy New Year!

I hope all you had a great Christmas. We spent the holidays in Cincinnati with our family, and as usual we had a blast. This past week I have been working on my Pinterest boards, cooking some nice meals, and just savoring every minute with my sweet boys.

I don’t go back to school next week {which is quite nice!} but the week after next. As soon as I set foot in my classroom I need to get everything set to test my firsties reading and writing development, in what is known as the “middle of the year” benchmark or MOY.
Not one single day goes by without wondering what the best strategies  are.
what  the most effective methodologies are,
or just simply…
How  I can help my students with written comprehension.
I am sure you can relate.

Teaching with the standards in mind allows us the opportunity to “pick-and-choose”  about what truly matters in terms of our literacy instruction.  It is almost like separating your laundry. Like separating your whites from your darks.
It absolutely is.
We want our literacy instruction to be meaningful and engaging, not just busy work.
We need it to be deep and connected, not just cutesie.
We want to be intentional and purposeful with the reading and writing strategies that we teach our students.
But most of all, when we keep the standards in mind, we can transform our classrooms into true learning communities for both, students and teachers.
I made the following slide, and from the bottom of I my heart I say: THAT is the teacher I want to be. THAT is the teacher that I want for both of my boys.

So what do we know about the reading and writing connection?
Fountas & Pinnell (2011) tell us that:
Student’s written responses to what they have read provide evidence of their thinking. When we examine writing in response to reading, we can make hypotheses about how well readers have understood a text.  Written responses should be coconstructed through the use of interactive and shared writing before students are expected to produce them independently  as assignments.
The gradual release of responsibility model is crucial when it comes to teaching the standards, and guiding our students towards the mastery of written comprehension skills. I blogged about the gradual release HERE.

And what do we know about raising rigor?
One of the most valuable resources that I own and that I go back to every time (and I mean it, every time)  is “The Common Core Lesson Book K-5” by Gretchen Owocki.  I like it s much. Not only this resource, explains the standards to the point, but it also shows you the characteristics of effective classrooms in this era of higher standards:

Balanced literacy instruction where guided reading and strategy instruction are present.

Be proud of your literacy block. Cut the fluff and use your time (and your students’ time) wisely.

Integrate content area and make sure to write about reading across the curriculum.

Most importantly.
So how about the reading – writing connection in the era of higher standards?
This written comprehension matter has become so important. You’d think that because I write these blog posts and because I create materials for my TPT store, I would have it all figured out.
Well, I don’t.
Teaching written comprehension is the most challenging part of my day, but it is also the most rewarding. I have learned that written comprehension goes beyond the essential set of reading and writing behaviors. For our students to be truly proficient in written comprehension (per state expectations), they must be reading grade level text (or above) but most of all, they should have a full understanding of the complexity of each standard.
What does this mean?
It means that if you have a student that is reading below grade level {click HERE to see the F&P text gradient}, you should be addressing  the standards for that particular grade level. Or how many times we have students who can read the yellow pages but who cannot get passed the written component. Then again, it is all about the standards.
If you have a first grader, who reads at a third grade level,
then guess what?!
third grade standards is what you should be teaching.
You may think that teaching 3rd grade standards is developmentally inappropriate for a 7 year old.
I completely agree with you, growing a reader that is already high, is VERY hard.  In this regard, I feel that PD in learning about the similarities and differences in the progression of the standards, grade by grade, should be a must. 
Just my humble, Colombian, opinion.
And then, there should also be PD about the literacy continuum grade by grade in relation to writing about reading.
Just my two cents.

And just in case you are interested, I am developing a set of written comprehension units based on my observations above. The first product in this series, addresses written comprehension for standard RL.1.1. “Ask and answer questions about key details in a text.”
Take a peek at the pictures of this product in action:

Vocabulary strips related for this particular standard.

I can statements and essential questions. When your students are able to relate to a lesson or a goal, they are displaying ownership of their own learning.

A  small group matrix with reading and writing behaviors to address this standard. Click HERE  to download!!

Eighteen  passages  that are not leveled for any particular reading level or specific grade. As a matter of fact, leveled text is only done by trained professionals and approved by publishing companies. I am a teacher just like you! On the other hand, I wanted to focus on the written response/comprehension strategies and the scaffold our students need to be successful in this area. Each passage with one star has been scaffolded for those students who need more support. Each passage with two stars has not been scaffolded at all and will present a bigger challenge for your students.

The graphic organizers provided are to be used with the passages, they are a tool to add a reading/writing strategy that supports the full understanding of this standard. They, however, can also be used with any other text/leveled books that you own. At your discretion, these pages may be used at any point in the gradual release of responsibility model.

These mini-posters are the ideal resource for students with processing difficulties, English Language Learners, or students with poor linguistic experiences. You may use these mini-posters during whole group lessons, guided reading, strategy groups, or for your students to use independently during literacy stations.
You can get it  from my TPT store.
What kind of things do you do in your classroom to enhance the written comprehension of your students? Leave a comment and you might get this whole unit for free!

I better get off this computer now. I have to do a pile of laundry the size of Texas and I have to put all the Christmas stuff away!