Writing anchor standard nine states that students need to, “Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.”
When you look at how this applies to children in grades kindergarten, first, and second, and in this case, third, the authors of the Common Core decided to wait to establish clear guidelines for this standard until fourth grade.
When children begin applying this standard in fourth and fifth grades, the expectation is that students will “Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.” The Common Core authors recommend that students apply grade level reading standards such as “describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text” and “Explain how an author uses reasons and evidence to support particular points in a text, identifying which reasons and evidence support which points” to literary and informational texts.
In looking at this standard, we are particularly drawn to the language “Apply grade 4 (5) reading standards.” If this writing standard is driven by the reading standards, what are the reading standards asking of students and can writing help support primary students as they work to achieve the reading standards?
In order to answer this question, we again turn to the writing exemplars provided by the authors of the Common Core in Appendix C. Take a moment to read this reflection of Jane Yolen’s Owl Moon written by a second grader.
The opening line of this text, “When you go owling you don’t need words, or worm (warm), or anything, but hope” is a quote taken directly from Owl Moon. This writer seems to have decided to include this quote as a way of developing and supporting his/her argument that the character in the story feels happy. In this example, this second grade writer has drawn evidence from a literary text to support analysis and reflection because this student goes on to include that “happy kids make me happy.” In addition, it directly supports second grade reading standard seven that expects children to, “use information gained from the illustrations and words in a print or digital text to demonstrate understanding of its characters, setting, or plot.” It seems to us that this exemplar of second grade writing, selected by the authors of the Common Core, meets the expectations of writing anchor standard nine and supports efforts to meet grade level reading standards. This writing sample makes us wonder out loud why writing standard nine has no guidelines for children until fourth grade?
Once again, not only CAN children practice these skills with support in the primary grades, they SHOULD. Waiting until fourth grade to EXPECT students to “Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research” is short-sighted and could be creating the conditions for students to fail to meet this grade level requirement when it is finally expected of them.