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Writing in All Classrooms

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Writing in All Classrooms
"Writing Across the Curriculum"
Writing to Learn
Writing to Demonstrate Knowledge
Additional Resources

Writing in All Classrooms

What are universal writing and reading tools for all classrooms?

There are many Routine Writing and Reading strategies that can be used in any classroom. These tools help students write about what they are learning, and they help students prepare for what they are reading.  Visit The English Teacher's Companion to access a variety of writing and reading tools for every classroom, such as:

  • Cluster Notes
  • Continuum Notes
  • Conversational Roundtable
  • Cornell Notes
  • Episodic Notes
  • Hierarchical Notes
  • Judges Notes
  • Make Your Own Test
  • Prereading Notes
  • Spread Sheet
  • Think in Threes
  • Textbook Feature Analysis

"Writing Across the Curriculum"

In response to the need of students to learn content using a variety of strategies, and their need to practice writing in a variety of contexts, many teachers have adopted the strategies associated with "Writing Across the Curriculum" (WAC).

The following basic principles underlie "Writing Across the Curriculum":

  • Writing promotes learning.
  • Integration of writing and the writing process promotes student participation, a diversity of student voices, and engages students as critical thinkers while promoting their texts as important resources and thinking tools.
  • Effective writing instruction integrates disciplines.
  • The opportunity to write in every class develops good writers.
  • Using writing as part of instruction can be used in every classroom.
  • Only by practicing the thinking and writing conventions of an academic discipline will students begin to communicate effectively within that discipline.

Writing is not simply a process of developing an essay. Writing across the curriculum is an effort to use writing to demonstrate knowledge and understanding.  At times, using writing to learn can show a disconnect in a student’s understanding of a concept.  Writing can also show a student’s mastery of a concept. Specific strategies can be used to help students understand, retain, master, and synthesize learning.

- Source: Michigan Department of Education

Writing to Learn

Writing to learn fosters critical thinking, requiring analysis and application, and other higher level thinking skills. It is writing that uses impromptu, short or informal writing tasks designed by the teacher and included throughout the lesson to help students think through key concepts and ideas. Attention is focused on ideas rather than correctness of style, grammar or spelling. It is less structured than disciplinary writing.This approach frequently uses journals, logs, micro-themes, responses to written or oral questions, summaries,free writing, notes and other writing assignments that align to learning ideas and concepts.

A writing-to-learn strategy is one that teachers employ throughout and/or at the end of a lesson to engage students and develop big ideas and concepts.Teachers use "writing to learn" strategies to enhance the learning in the classroom.  Writing exercises can be used prior to a lesson to assess prior-knowledge. Students can use Cornell Notes and then write a paragraph that summarizes their learning. Students can use marginal notes to analyze charts or create metaphors to describe a process.  Students might also write summaries after a mini-lecture or after reading sections of a chapter. The summary may be written without the aid of notes to assess their recall or it could be used with the notes to help them clarify their understanding.

- Source: Michigan Department of Education

Writing to Demonstrate Knowledge

When writing to demonstrate knowledge, students show what they have learned by synthesizing information and explaining or applying their understanding of concepts and ideas. Students write for an audience with a specific purpose. Products may apply knowledge in new ways or use academic structures for research and/or formal writing. Examples include essays that deal with specific questions or problems, letters, projects, and more formal assignments or papers prepared over weeks or over a course. They adhere to format and style guidelines or standards typical of professional papers, such as reports, article reviews, and research papers and should be checked before submitted by the student for correctness of spelling, grammar, and transition word usage.

- Source: Michigan Department of Education



Online Resources for Teachers and Students:

Audio & Video:

  • Video: Literacy in Other Disciplines (The Hunt Institute, from Common Core State Standards, A New Foundation for Student Success series)

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