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Common Core Standards: ELA

Grades 9-10

Writing W.9-10.4

Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)

This standard requires that students demonstrate their ability to attend to the writing context they are given. First, students need to examine what the assignment is and what type of writing will best address the assignment. They’ll need to know the genre conventions and be able to choose a structure and style that’s appropriate to the given genre. Next, students must know what they hope to achieve through their writing. Their purpose will determine how their ideas develop and what information will be included or left out. Finally, students must identify their audience. Who will be reading this text or to whom is it addressed? Students need to be able to identify the knowledge and concerns of their audience and tailor their writing to meet those needs.

Take a look at the following example for how students might make some of these choices for a writing assignment. Refer to standards 1-3 for specific information about each type of writing.

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Example

Assignment Example

We know, we know…we love to give you advice, and sometimes you actually take it. Now the tables are turned, and it’s going to be YOU giving advice to the incoming underclassmen. Your teacher has assigned the task of putting together an essay or letter that would include helpful advice to a student coming into ninth or tenth grade. It’s your chance to be Helpful Hannah. Who better to give advice than one who’s just gone through the experience? So, you understand the purpose (give advice on surviving the next school year), and you know who your audience is (incoming ninth or tenth graders). Next, it’s time to brainstorm some ideas of what you might write about in your assignment.

To write your essay or letter, you need to determine some sub-topics. What experiences stand out most in your mind? Can you group different ideas together? For example, perhaps you want to mention how to deal with MONSTER upperclassmen. Or, perhaps you want to talk about finding help if you’re TEARING YOUR HAIR OUT over grades. Or, maybe you want to write about the FUN activities available for ninth graders. You can create an outline or mind map for your ideas. By grouping these ideas together, you are giving your paper a sense of organization. You’ll talk about all the advice you want to give on one sub-topic, and then move on to the next. Or, rather than sub-topics, perhaps you’d like to use chronological order. Tips for first quarter, pointers for second. Sounds like Survivor, doesn’t it? The important thing is to keep your task, purpose, and audience in mind when developing your structure. What will be the most helpful organization of ideas?

You’ll craft an introduction in which you address your audience and explain what your paper will be covering. You’ll then write body paragraphs designed around your sub-topics or timeline, making sure these pieces serve as topic sentences within your paragraphs. You’ll give plenty of advice, and a few examples of your experiences. Finally, you’ll give some useful advice at the conclusion, including some team talk that they will not only survive but THRIVE as well. You want your audience to know that you feel their pain. You should be talking to them as a freshman who has experienced the same things they might bump into in the halls. First person is appropriate for this context, so you’ll be using the pronoun I. It’s okay to use slang in this assignment since you are talking in a conversational tone as you do with a friend. Maybe you’ll also use humor to make light of things. Perhaps you had truly bad experiences, so the words you use will show caution. This will be the tone of your writing. These elements, voice, point-of-view, personality, and word choice combine to create the writing style for this particular task. It’s the you behind the message.

Drill 1

Put the following steps in the correct order when addressing a writing context.

a. Determine who you audience will be.
b. Understand what the assignment is asking you to do.
c. Decide the organization of your paper.
d. Brainstorm possible topics.
e. Write a rough draft.
f. Determine the purpose of your task.
g. List possible sub-topics.
h. Settle on your voice, tone, and style.

ANSWERS:

1. The correct answer is (b). First you’ve got to know your task.
2. The correct answer is (f). Next, you need a purpose for writing. What will you accomplish?
3. The correct answer is (a). Who will be reading this? What do they already know about the subject? What do they need to know?
4. The correct answer is (d). What information is appropriate for the task, purpose, and audience?
5. The correct answer is (g). What is the best way to develop each topic?
6. The correct answer is (c). You need a structure that will make sense to your audience and fits the given genre or task.
7. The correct answer is (h). Is this a formal or informal writing context?
8. The correct answer is (e). You’ve made all the important decisions; it’s time to start writing!

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