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Target Skills Instruction and Assessment


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Target Skills Instruction and Assessment

What are Target Skills?

Teaching with Target Skills within the writing workshop is the central instructional technique of the CraftPlus K-8 Writing Program. CraftPlus arranges these skills into organizational, composing, and conventions categories.

Target Skills are the specific writing-craft skills and techniques that teachers chose and explicitly teach to young writers. They include genre-linked organization strategies, beginning and ending techniques, and transitions, as well as composing skills, literary techniques, writing conventions, and writing process stages. These single-skill concepts are correlated with the age and developmental stages of students.

Can Target Skills be Taught Before a Child Learns to Read?
Yes. Emergent writers can learn many Target Skills orally even before they learn to read. At any developmental level, the first steps in teaching a Target Skill are to show a young writer how an author has used the skill, discuss why it helps a reader, and then ask young writers to try out the skill orally.

Young writers will learn Target Skills best if you understand, recognize, and honor their current developmental stages.

How are Target Skills Taught?
Teachers follow the curriculum using the Daily Writing Lessons within the 30- to 45- minute daily writing workshop format. They model the Target Skill using the literature, example or teacher or student models that illustrate the same Target Skill. Students then try out the Target Skill in a practice piece of writing. Students then respond to their peers in a variety of ways.

Descriptive Target Skills, which are used across the writing genres, are taught in all grades for the first 20-lesson instructional unit. CraftPlus also models how to teach genre-specific organizational and composing Target Skills as a part of instructional units that prepare students to write in all assessed genres.

How are Target Skills Assessed?
The Target Skills become the points of assessment for weekly formative and unit-end summative assessments. The weekly formative assessment provides a diagnostic tool for teachers to guide and inform instruction. The summative assessment becomes a piece that can be used for further revision or kept as a record of student progress.

The formative weekly assessments are built into the Daily Writing Lessons. For the end-of-unit summative assessments, students take two or three writing pieces through all of the stages of the writing process. Students are accountable for some combination of the Target Skills that they were taught during that unit. Teachers or students may develop the topics for their pieces, or follow suggested topics, some of which incorporate technology.

Why is Teaching with Target Skills Effective?
Target Skills:

  • transform the daily writing workshop into a goal-directed activity in which specific writing craft-skills are explained, modeled, and practiced. Students have immediate success and see that their writing is “like a real author’s” because they are using the very same techniques.
  • are taught in a logical progression, from concrete to abstract, through the grades, which both exploits the natural learning and language abilities of children and takes their age-related abilities and limitations into account.
  • leads to an objective assessment of writing that children can understand. All children have the opportunity to “hit the target” that they know the assessment requires.
  • teach young writers that revision is the key to good writing, and gives them specific techniques to help them improve organization, composing skills, and conventions.