A breakdown for teachers who teach W.4 in middle school ELA. In this post, we’ve included learning targets, concept breakdowns, resource suggestions, and activity and assessment ideas!
The fourth standard in the Common Core Writing Standards is actually a really fun one. This is the standard that gives you free rein to allow your students to write for a variety of different audiences and contexts.
I fondly think of this standard as the ‘catch-all’ writing standard because it feels like W.1 is about formal, evidence-based writing, W.2 is about informative and explanatory writing, W.3 is about narrative writing, and W.4 is about…well, everything else.
That makes this standard both really easy to prepare for and maybe a little overwhelming to prepare for.
Let’s dig into it to learn more about the expectations surrounding this standard.
Let’s start with the learning targets!
These checklists go through each and every middle school ELA standard and give us space to lay out how we plan to meet them throughout the year.
I love this kind of organization of the standards because it allows me to explore the nuances of each standard at each grade level and make a plan for how I will make sure that each is covered, reviewed, and assessed throughout the year with my middle school students.
Here are the learning targets we used to develop our W.4 middle school resources.
7th Grade Standard: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience.
7th Grade Learning Targets
- I can determine an appropriate writing type for a specific task, purpose, and audience.
- I can organize a text appropriately to task, purpose, and audience.
- I can develop ideas and a writing style to convey my tone and meaning to the audience.
8th Grade Standard: Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience.
8th Grade Learning Targets
- I can produce clear and coherent writing in which the development is appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience.
- I can produce clear and coherent writing in which the organization is appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience.
- I can produce clear and coherent writing in which the style is appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience.
This particular writing standard is so broad that we may have to work through it many different times over the course of a semester in a variety of ways.
As we’ve discussed in some of the other blog posts covering the first 3 writing standards, writing instruction has greatly been changed by technology and the introduction and common use of AI. This relates to the W.4 standard because the sheer number of potential products students have to choose from to ‘produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience is much greater than it used to be.
Here are some potential products you may consider encouraging your students to use as they master this standard.
- Social Media Posts
- Portfolio (physical or digital)
- Multi-media presentations
- YouTube Videos
- Podcast Episodes
…and so much more!
As you try to figure out what to expect from students, consider taking a more project-based approach. Let the students figure out which type of product is best for the message they want to convey and the audience they hope to reach. In fact, make explaining that choice a part of the project!
Resources for teaching W.4
As you decide how to teach W.4 in middle school ELA, you’ll want to reference some resources that you may be able to use as part of the foundational learning for this standard. We created our standards-based product line with foundational learning in mind. We built our products straight from the learning targets we identified for each standard and created activities and resources to supplement teachers as they aim to help their students master the standards.
Learn more about our W.4 resources for 7th and 8th grade by clicking on the links below.
The resources include a lesson/activity for each specific learning target or concept and also include assessments, posters, and answer keys.
Activities and Projects for Practicing and Assessing W.4 in Middle School
- What’s the Purpose: Most writing falls under the categories of inform, persuade, and entertain, but then you can also add in the audience. It is not enough to just identify the basic category; students also need to be able to identify and make choices based on the task they are being asked to complete. In the 7th grade resource, we work through identifying the category of writing and pairing it with the task to then decide the best kind of product to present our ideas.
- Deconstructing Texts: Spend time deconstructing texts written by other people. Examine their choices, their audience’s needs, and how they met (or didn’t meet) the task. In our 7th grade unit, we have an activity that is built off this concept.
- Identifying Purpose, Task, and Audience from a Prompt: In our 8th grade unit, we take students through an activity that asks them to pull the purpose, task, and audience from a writing prompt. These types of writing prompts are common in advanced writing assessments, and knowing how to lay out these three pieces of information will give students a baseline from which to start developing their writing.
As you continue to explore how to teach W.4 in middle school, we hope that the resources and ideas in this post provide a good starting point for you to build from. We know that helping students master the standards is tough, especially with all of these different writing standards. Still, we try to save teachers time with our standards-based writing units built specifically to meet the learning targets we have identified at each grade level. Click on the resource links below to learn more about our W.4 resources!