How do we help teachers do a better job implementing writing, specifically the Collins Writing Program?

Lisa Lucas, Featured Blogger

By Lisa Lucas, Ed.D, Consultant, Collins Education Associates

As a Collins Associate, I find that this is now one of the most common questions I receive. In my former role as a Curriculum Director, I was responsible for implementation of programs and translating the state and national standards into student expectations that were clear and concise. This often took the form of matrices that prioritized the essential skills to be taught. One of the most valued documents created was the Focus Correction Area Writing Matrix.

Today, as schools prepare for the implementation of the Common Core Standards, they will need new matrices, crosswalks, and grade-level priority standards: a concise document that delineates the writing focus correction areas for each grade level providing writing priorities at a glance. Creating a Focus Correction Area (FCA) Writing Matrix benefits all stakeholders: students, administrators, teachers and parents. The section below identifies the benefits for these stakeholders and provides two sample grade level FCA matrices.

Administrative Benefits
Creating a K-12 FCA Priority Matrix is a meaningful professional development process. Grade level representatives, building principals, and supervisors can collaborate to determine the priority FCAs, first by grade level, then aligning the focus corrections areas vertically to view a clear progression of writing skills. Teachers can talk about what, when, why and how they teach writing in their classrooms.

The FCAs chosen will be the focus and priority at each grade level, although teachers also have the flexibility to differentiate. Differentiated instruction using Collins writing is not only possible, but also easy by simply customizing the FCAs. A glance at the matrix allows teachers to choose a more complex area of focus or the opportunity to scale back the expectation.

The completed FCA matrix should have DRAFT stamped across it so that the matrix can be revisited and modified. The opportunity for teachers to examine student work and revisit the priority FCAs is yet another meaningful professional development opportunity. The result is a user-friendly document that isn’t in a binder collecting dust, but is instead posted and utilized as a quick reference.

Teacher Benefits
Paging through manuals, curriculum guides, and standards can overwhelm even the most veteran educators. Teachers crave clarity and want to know specifically what to focus on. The FCA matrix provides clear grade level priorities and eliminates redundancy from grade level to grade level.

Student/Parent Benefits
Publishing the FCA matrix is precisely what students and parents desire―clear communication. Parents and students appreciate knowing in advance the focus correction areas that will be assessed.

Here are two samples of the grade level Focus Correction Areas. If you’d like support to develop your own FCA matrix, contact a Collins Associate.