Common Core Standards: Writing Clearly and Effectively in K-5 - dummies

Common Core Standards: Writing Clearly and Effectively in K-5

By Jared Myracle

The Common Core Standards for writing emphasize more than just putting together a five-paragraph essay. Starting in the early grades, the writing standards emphasize writing to inform, argue specific points, and narrate stories and events.

Students learn to use various sources and write with accountability to the sources used in order to strengthen their writing. The foundation established by the writing standards in kindergarten through Grade 5 is an essential building block toward developing student readers and writers that are college and career ready by the time they graduate from high school.

Refer to Appendixes A, B, and C of the English language arts standards for more resources on the types of writing addressed in the Common Core Standards.


Students draw, speak, and write to communicate their opinions, to inform a reader about a specific subject, or to communicate about a series of events. This represents their introduction to writing for the purpose of persuasion, argumentation, and narration. Students then learn to take feedback in order to strengthen what they have written, along with using technology to enhance their finished product.

Students also practice their skills in research by working independently and with partners to gather information about a specific topic from relevant sources. The major outcomes of the writing standards in kindergarten are focused on learning the essential processes that support effective writing, rather than on the end product of a written text. The emphasis on producing a finished writing product begins in Grade 3.

Grade 1

Students continue to write to express their opinions, inform readers about a specific topic, and produce a narrative. However, students also focus on additional details, such as providing supporting statements and evidence to enhance their writing, along with using words that signify the order of events and closure.

Students also continue to strengthen their writing by integrating feedback from their teacher and other students, and they produce digital forms of writing by working independently and with their peers in class. Students continue to practice researching and writing with a focus on gathering information from appropriate sources.

Grade 2

In Grade 2, the writing process extends to include adding introductory remarks that provide an effective beginning. This applies to writing that is done for the purposes of providing an opinion, explaining information, and describing a narrative. Writing also becomes more detailed through the use of supporting statements, facts, and evidence from sources and experiences.

The emphasis in Grade 2 is on developing the structure of writing so that the overall organization and the details within more effectively communicate the student’s purpose for writing. Students continue to revise writing, use digital resources, and work with others to conduct research in which they consult numerous sources on a specific topic and/or gather their own data if they are reporting on a scientific experiment.

Grade 3

In Grade 3, students begin to engage in the writing process, with the end result being a finished written product. As such, the standards in this grade are divided to provide more detail. Each type of writing has specific guidelines for introducing the topic; supporting it with evidence and details; making specific word choices, including linking words; and developing an effective conclusion.

Students continue to revise and enhance their writing, focusing on the processes of pre-writing and editing, along with practicing keyboarding in their use of technology. The use of research progresses into completing research projects focused on specific topics. Evidence used to support conclusions in their research is collected and organized into categories.

In Grade 3, students write in a more routine manner, with emphasis on the various aspects of the writing process and in order to write on various topics for different purposes.

Grade 4

In Grade 4, students use increasingly detailed steps in the writing process. For example, students not only use details to support their writing but also organize their writing to present related points together, thereby strengthening their ability to persuade or make an argument. Students also employ linking phrases, such as for example, to connect their thoughts with supporting evidence.

The increased use of details is also applied to the concluding section of writing, which is another way to convey convincing information. Editing in Grade 4 incorporates more detail, including an increased focus on appropriate usage of the rules of style and grammar .

The expectations for typing skills become more specific in Grade 4, as the writing standards indicate that students should be able to type at least one page in a “sitting.” Although the standards don’t give a specific timeframe, one can assume this means a reasonable amount of time that students may have in class to type their writing.

In Grade 4, students begin to connect the outcomes of the reading standards with the expectations of the writing standards. This includes using specific textual evidence, inferences and conclusions drawn from reading, and other information gathered from consulting multiple sources. Students use these skills and this information to produce writing of various lengths on given topics.

Grade 5

The writing standards in Grade 5 build on the many skills introduced in Grade 4, while continuing to add emphasis on providing supporting details and using writing conventions. The use of clauses is introduced to give students a tool to connect their opinions with evidence, and that evidence with a specific outcome in their writing.

Editing and revising to strengthen writing continues in Grade 5, along with increased expectations for student use of technology. Students are expected to type at least two pages in a “sitting,” which suggests that a considerable amount of a student’s writing should be done on a computer.

Students also expand their research skills by applying the expectations of the Grade 5 reading standards to the information pulled from sources consulted in their writing, resulting in more detailed evidence to support topics and deeper analysis of the purpose(s) of authors consulted in their research.