Secondary Writing Across the Curriculum September 23-24, 2013 Susie Mohrmann, Cheryl Peterson Instructional Facilitators
Goals for Tonight • Demonstrate the use of Nearpod and SMART software • Learn about Writing Across the Curriculum, it’s history, and how it can benefit you and your students. • Improve SCSD1’s quality and quantity of writing done by all students.
What is Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC)? - a pedagogical movement that began in the 1980s - purpose was to weave writing assignments into all academic areas - writing is seen as the responsibility of the entire academic community - uses writing as a method of learning
Traditionally, writing has been used to demonstrate learning (ex. summary of science chapter, essay about WWII, literary analysis of Hamlet). In the last few decades, schools have come to see the power of writing to discover, to express, and to learn. Content area teachers can use writing to benefit both students and teacher.
Writing is exciting because it’s productive and creative; it’s where the rubber hits the road. You can’t write and not think. There are no Cliff Notes for writing. Written expression is one of our primary means of reflecting on what we think and what we know. -Jim Burke, teacher and author
Myths - Writing is a skill that should be taught outside of academic content - WAC centers on grammar - WAC is a fad
Why is WAC important? Reason #1: Written output is a great way to assess student knowledge. Reason #2: Writing is the essential skill students need as they enter adult life. Reason #3: Helping students learn to express themselves with confidence in all subject areas can contribute to improvements in behavior and self-esteem. Reason #4: Students who write clearly, think clearly. And students who think clearly have a better chance of navigating their way through the obstacles of adolescence. Reason #5: Writing is power. Steve Peha. Teaching That Makes Sense, Inc. • Web www.ttms.org
Why do I care? –“[F]requent informal writing opportunities along with sequenced formal writing assignments play an indispensable role in developing critical thinking skills, learning discipline-specific content, and building competence in the modes of inquiry and communication specific to each discipline and profession.” (from Georgia State University WAC)
Benefits for students (& teachers) • Think independently • Develop insight • Explore thoughts and feelings • Develop intellectual courage • Reason logically • Follow the thread of the lesson in their minds • Visualize a concept and make it more concrete by writing down their thoughts • Promotes learning and construction of knowledge • Promotes literacy school wide
Stop, Think & Talk 1. What is one thing you heard that is a reinforcement of what you already know? 2. What is one thing that is new knowledge?
TERMS - “Writing Across the Curriculum” - goal is to improve the quality of writing school wide using the writing skills learned in Language Arts, make writing relevant in different contexts - “Writing to Learn” - uses writing as a tool for thinking and learning (falls under the umbrella of WAC)
Writing to Learn - pedagogical approach that values writing as a method of learning that aids in comprehension and retention of information –short informal writing tasks (in or out of class) –help students think through key concepts –limited to less than five minutes of class time –brief out-of-class assignments - examples include writing and reading journals, summaries, response papers, learning logs...
Here we go………. the meat of tonight As I share information tonight about Step Up to Writing, writing across the curriculum, technology and effective teaching strategies please…. stop me if you have questions or want to add how you incorporate these things into your classrooms. We are here to learn from each other. Jot down ideas for incorporation into your classes, or questions for Cheryl or Susie.
Think to yourself….. What have you heard about Step Up to Writing? Share.
Step Up to Writing is About Tools James Belasco and Ralph Stayer in Flight of the Buffalo tell the story of a president of a $6 billion company and his groundskeeper who was using a rake with only five teeth to rake leaves. Since rakes ordinarily have as many as 30 teeth, the president asked his employee why she was using that particular rake. Her response was simple, “because that’s what they gave me”.
Two Kinds of Writing Narrative Beginning Middle End Expository Introduction Body Conclusion
Why do we need to teach expository writing? 1. Most of the writing that students will be asked to do in school and in the workplace will be expository writing. 2. Expository writing teaches writers to think clearly and logically. 3. Expository writing helps students learn content. 4. Expository writing prepares students to write speeches and give oral presentations. 5. Learning to write clear paragraphs, reports, and essays gives students confidence. Learning to write clear paragraphs, reports, and essays helps students perform better on writing assessments. 6. Mastering expository writing helps students be productive citizens who are able to take an active role in community affairs.
Generic Expository Paragraphs Expository Paragraphs: Need a title Have a topic sentence Use transitions Explain and give examples Have a conclusion Everyone can learn to write expository paragraphs if they are given: Direct instructions step-by-step guidelines examples opportunities to practice specific feedback
Organization: Do you Recognize the Difference? The following examples were written by middle school students. The examples are written by seventh grade girls in response to the book Tuck Everlasting.
Example 1a Tuck Everlasting is mainly about life. What I mean about this is that the Tuck family fell off the wheel of life. The Tuck family drank some water from a special spring that kept them living forever. During the story Tuck and Winnie had a talk about this. Winnie had been kidnapped by the Tucks and she could have lived with them forever. At the end of the book Winnie gives the frog the water. He then falls off the wheel of life. In conclusion, I thought the book was good and explained life very well.
Example 1b When I read Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbit, I was forced to think about life, death, and the possibility of living forever. First, I learned that life is a good thing, and I shouldn’t spend time thinking about dying. I also realized that I wouldn’t be really happy living forever. Life is like a wheel, and if I lived forever, I would see things change but I would not change. Finally, I saw that death is not so bad. When a person dies, it’s like the world is going a step further, moving on, and developing new things. Before I read this book, I was afraid to die, but now I believe it’s not anything to be afraid of.
Stop and Draw Draw a visual representation showing the two types of writing.
Keys to an effective expository paragraph Expository paragraphs need: •A title •A topic sentence •Transitions •Good explanations and examples •A conclusion
Topic • Green means “go.” • Green asks the writer to decide— • “What am I going to prove?” (reason) • “What am I going to explain?” (detail) • “What information will I share?” (fact)
Reasons/Details/Facts • Yellow means “slow down.” • Introduce key concepts to support the topic sentence. • The main supporting ideas (reasons, details or facts) for the topic sentence. • Look for common patterns or categories in the brainstorming.
Examples • Red means “stop and explain.” • Present evidence. • Provide explanation and examples.
Guided Highlighting Practice highlighting a paragraph. • Green for topic • Yellow for RDFs • Red for Es • Green for conclusion/restatement
We are going to pause here and switch to making a foldable as an organizational tool for writing expository paragraphs of varying lengths.
Other handouts in your packet • Framed paragraphs – samples to use for differentiation of prompts (pg. 12-13) • Sample topic sentences (pg. 14), different ways to write topic sentences • Templates for writing (color on green, yellow, pink/organge paper) • Sample prompts by subject area (pg. 15-18) • Checklists and sample rubrics (pg. 19+)
Your assignment for October meeting • Give an expository writing prompt to one class. • Purpose is to find out if students know YOUR content. • Use the rubric (pg. 18), give it to students. • Bring papers and copy of your prompt next time. You can score if you want immediate feedback, or wait until our meeting. • Sample prompts on page 15 – 18 • If you need help designing a prompt, ask Susie or your Language Arts teachers.
Nearpod Wrap Up • Revisit goals • Questions • If time permits, look at other Nearpod presentations at www.nearpod.com , set up an account. • How might you use nearpod in your class?