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Elementary students embrace core challenges

New Orleans Advocate

In the early elementary school grades, Zachary Davis and his classmates at Belle Chasse Primary School in suburban New Orleans wrote almost entirely from personal experience: describing their ideal vacation, trying to convince readers that a longer school year would be a good (or bad) idea, penning a letter about their adventures during summer break. That all changed this school year. As a fourth-grader, Zachary rarely writes stories or essays based solely on his experience or imaginative musings anymore. Instead, it’s all about citing "textual evidence." "In third grade, they would just ask us to, like, describe your dream store. It was easy to me," said Zachary, adding that he enjoys the new challenge. Much to the delight of writing enthusiasts, the curriculum standards known as Common Core stress the importance of students putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) across all subject areas. The standards also specify that students — even those in the youngest grades — should cite evidence from readings as they write and not just invent stories or opine based on prior knowledge.

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"The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read." — Abraham Lincoln