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Writing: A Core Skill
April 10, 2014 | Volume 9 | Issue 14
Table of Contents
Writing in the Other Core Content Areas
How do you respond when your teaching team, principal, or superintendent says, "You must teach writing in your classroom?" As an arts teacher, my defenses go up and I tend to think either "I am already doing it" or "When do I teach my own content area?" Instead, those of us who don't teach English and language arts (ELA) and math can advocate how we create lessons that intentionally integrate the Common Core State Standards for writing into our content areas. Your content area is important. Moreover, students need to use reading and writing skills in your content area to truly gain the knowledge and abilities necessary to perform in that content area. Use this article as an easy and practical reflection guide to infuse writing in your classroom while still prioritizing your content area.
The writing process is similar to many of the processes, practices, and thinking found in content areas other than math or ELA. Knowing this helps a teacher assist students in transferring their learning from one content area to another. For example, as an arts teacher who sees students for about 40 minutes once a week, I know I cover the artistic practices listed in the Figure 1. However, I know arts teachers may not have time to do full writing lessons that include all of the writing process steps. By substituting imagination for prewriting; investigation for drafting; and the construction and reflection process for the rough draft, proofreading, revising, and publishing steps in writing, I have linked the writing process with artistic practices. I can easily have students draft a brief reflection to showcase writing during the artistic process. Figure 1 links you to resources for teaching your subject area's specific writing processes and serves as a reference guide to the steps within each subject area's specific approaches to writing.
Figure 1. Writing Process Steps by Subject Area
Science/ Engineering Practices
Artistic Practices and Thinking
Figure 2 lists the Common Core anchor standards for writing, with lesson planning questions to help you determine where and when you might infuse writing standards in your classroom. Remember, standards are not curriculum; your own personal curriculum and pedagogy bring the standards to life. Start small (i.e., one standard for one class), have fun, and see what works while keeping the focus on your content area.
Figure 2. Planning for the Common Core Anchor Standards for Writing
Common Core Anchor Standards for Writing
Reflective Questions for Lesson Planning in Non-ELA Classes
Text Types and Purposes
Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.
Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective techniques, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
Production and Distribution of Writing
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.
Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions to demonstrate understanding of the subject under investigation.
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.
Range of Writing
Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.
Gerry Petersen-Incorvaia is an education consultant and an instructor at Concordia University.
ASCD Express, Vol. 9, No. 14. Copyright 2014 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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