The Common Core and the PARRC require the following instructional shifts. This information is summarized from the PARRC Model Content Framework, version 2.0, just in case you didn’t sit down with a cup of coffee for a close reading of the whole document!
Balance of text: The balance of student writing should be 65 percent analytical (30 percent opinions and 35 percent to explain/inform) and 35 percent narrative with a mix of on-demand and extended review-and-revision writing assignments.
Cite evidence: The goal of close, analytic reading is to be able to discern and cite evidence from the text to support assertions. By grade 3, students should refer explicitly to the text as the basis for answers (RL/RI.3.1). This means using direct quotes from the text in their analysis.
Conducting and reporting on research: This expands on “writing effectively when analyzing sources” to require students to demonstrate their ability to gather resources, evaluate their relevance, and report on information and ideas they have investigated. This requires students to find multiple pieces of evidence from various texts on their own.
Text-based responses: Studies show that learning to present important information in an organized piece of writing helps students generate a deeper understanding of a text. Indeed, whether taking notes or answering questions about a text, or crafting a summary or an extended response regarding what they have read, students improve both their reading comprehension and their writing skills when writing in response to texts. As a result, all students’ writing should incorporate text.
The two types of narratives: Narrative writing takes two distinct forms in the Common Core and the PARCC: narrative story and narrative description. The narrative story is about real or imagined situations and characters and uses time (temporal words) as its deep structure. Such writing includes the subgenres of creative fiction, as well as memoirs, anecdotes, biographies, and autobiographies. The narrative description differs from the narrative story in that it is used to create for the reader a vivid impression of a person, phenomenon, or event under study. This is a description from a narrator’s point of view. For example, in history/social studies, students might write narrative descriptions about individuals and events, selecting from their sources only the most relevant information. In science, students might write narrative descriptions of step-by-step procedures of investigations so that others can replicate their procedures to test their results.
Study and apply vocabulary: Focus vocabulary instruction on words that students would be encouraged to use in writing and speaking. Students should be given 5–10 Tier 2 academic words per week for each text they are reading. All vocabulary should come from the text.