Writing Across the Curriculum/Planning Instruction for Content Literacy

In these readings I expect to learn some good reasons to include writing in content courses and some good strategies for writing to learn and planning curriculum in a way that includes reading and writing.

It Says……Chapter 9

Writing mirrors thinking.  Writing facilitates learning by helping students to explore,clarify and think deeply abut the ideas and concepts they encounter in reading.  Social writing is not perceived as real writing….academic writing is.  In order to play with abbreviated forms of writing you must have already intuited that there is a standard.  Teens believe that the writing instruction they receive in school could be improved.  Three good reasons to look at role of writing in the classroom.  1) writing improves thinking 2) it facilitates learning 3) writing is closely connected to reading.  Teachers of every discipline share in the responsibility of showing students how to think and write in the context of their subject.  Integrating reading/writing helps students to think about what they will read and to understand what they have read.  Writing can be a motivational tool to get students reading.  Writers…exploration and clarification…making meaning. The more they work with the writing….revise, rethink and clarify what they have say about a subject.  Experience of integrating reading and writing….students are likely to learn more content, understand better, and remember it longer.  Writing promotes thinking.  Writing to Learn and Writing in disciplines:  two major instructional components.  WTL–short and informal, explore ideas, clarify.  Tap into prior knowledge–brainstorming, quick-writing. Microthemes–help summarize and extend their thoughts.  Microthemes:  more isn’t better-mini essays–index card/half paper.  POVGs–interview format, speculation inferential thinking, and elaboration, role-play.  actively contribute their own experence, first-person writing.  Unsent letters:  role-play-interpretive and evaluative thinking.  Biopoems–structured, used to synthesize learning.  Admit Slips and Exit Slips.  Admit beginning for class, react to what they are studying or what’s happening in class.  Exit slips-end of class, summarize, synthesize, evalute, or project.  Academic journals–response, double-entry, and learning logs-about thinking/learning–not grammar/spelling.  Response journals–emotional/imaginative.  Historical character journals–role-play, assume role and view events from perspective of the character.  Sketchbooks in Art.  Math journals. Double Entry journals–two columns, can use many ways.  Learning Logs-students write what they are learning, their questions, and concerns.  Can be shared with teacher.  Writing in Disciplines:  RAFT: role, audience, form and topic.  Teachers create prompts.  Provides context for writing.  Research-based writing.  Teacher helps with questions/problems.  Guiding the writin process.  discovery, drafting and revising.  Discovery/prewriting–ideas, topic, plans, begin.  Drafting–ideas on paper, sticking to the task, developing fluency/coherence.  revising–for meaning, responding to the writing, for clarity, editing/proofing, polishing. 

I Say…..

This is a very thorough chapter on writing in the classroom.  The text gives an excellent overview along with many good strategies and examples.  This will be a good reference as I start lesson planning to include writing to learn and learning to write projects in the classroom.  I am convinced that this is good practice.  The students will get double return on their efforts, in learning to write better and to use writing as a tool while they learn content in way that will be more meaningful and memorable.  I really like some of the write to learn activities.  I had heard of many, but the unsent letters and historic character journals were new to me and I think they would be a lot of fun for students.  I also liked the microthemes, especially when they prompted the students to use their imaginations.  I sure they would remember the information better if they connected it to a fun story.  I hadn’t until now understood RAFT although I had heard of it.  The text explained it in a way that makes perfect sense.  This is a helpful tool in learning to write.  In giving the students the role, audience, form and topic, a teacher can help them get started with writing.  It will also help them learn to think of these points when they are writing to communicate.  They may know their role and their topic, but having used RAFT exercises will help them remember to consider their audience and the form.

And So…..

Having learned about writing to learn and learning to write, I am really sold on the idea.  I guess the and so, is that I will use these strategies in my classroom and know that I will be able to explain why it is important if I ever have to defend the practice.  The more I learn about writing to learn/learning to write, the more I am convinced. As I learn more strategies and see more examples of ways to use writing the more excited I am to try them.  I really think this time of learning will engage the students and make class more interesting and fun while helping them learn better.  As a substitute teacher, I have to follow the plans left by the classroom teacher.  But, I do have a little room to experiment.  I had to cover reading in a 6th grade classroom.  They were use to read alouds.  I told them we would do it a different way for the day.  We did a read/write exercise.  I read and they followed along.  I paused every so often and had them write their thoughts at the end of the reading, they shared what they wrote with their classmates.  As a sub, a read aloud can be a class management nightmare.  Changing to a read/write, kept the kids engaged.  I had one or two protesting, but the majority were reading along and writing.  I could tell they really enjoyed sharing at the end. 

Chapter 5  It Says…..

Plans are nothing…planning is everything.  Instructional planning brings students and texts together in way that support content literacy. Explicit Strategy Instruction.  Instructional scaffolding.  Helping learners to do what they cannot do at first.  What to do, why and how and when.  Awareness and explanaton, modeling and demonstration, guided practice, and application.  Students must understand the rules, work on technique, and practice.  Teacher feedback, guide, inspire and share.  Strategy awareness and Explanation.  First, informal assessment–try-out.  Try the strategy, observe students, ask them what they did, was it difficult.  Discuss strategy–why useful, rules, guidelines. Let them practice.  Strategy Demonstration and Modeling.  Review the steps, demonstrate the strategy, think-aloud to model.  Guided Practice.  Short selections, debrief.  Learning-log entries.  Strategy application. Encourage students to use in regular classroom assignmens.  Frame assignments to use the strategies.  Planning Lessons.  Learners respond well to structure.  Lesson Plan Formats.  standards, instructional goals, essential questions, instructional strategies and activities, instructional materials and resources, new literacies, assessment.  B-D-A Instructional framework-before, during, after reading–activities to support students efforts to construct meaning.  Before/prereading phase.  motivating readers, building and activating prior knowledge, introducing key vocabulary and concepts and developing metacognitive awareness of the task demands of the assignment. Vocab:  keywords, heavy concept loads.  During-reading.  admit slips, discussions, buddies.  After-Reading Activities–After-Reading Activities:  extend thinking.  Planning units of study.  Components:  title/theme; major concepts; texts and information sources; unit’s instructional activities; provisions for assessing. Content objectives–Content analysis–What.  Instructional Activities and Text Resources.  Single text–branch out, or multiple text.  An inquiry/research emphasis in Units of Study.  Steps and Stages:  how teachers guide is key!  steps/stages.  Identifying questions as important and finding answers.  compare/contrast and synthesize information; present finding of research in a variety of products and formats, discuss possible sources of information.  Multiple text emphasis in Units of Study.  Use of trade books. 

I Say…..

This topic is a little harder for me to grasp than the write-to-learn.  Probably because I haven’t been exposed to these activities much in my own learning.  I really love the idea of branching out from the texts, with trade books.  I also can see how the B-D-A activities can work, but haven’t experienced them much or seen them used. 

And So….

This is an area that I need to explore a little more. I should watch for examples of my professors using these strategies and for my mentor teachers using them so I can see more how they work.  I know that as a substitute during  social studies lessons, I did some activities that could fall into this type of strategy. So the teachers guide had said to have the students think about sites in their own area before learning about sites in Babylonia.  I did a brainstorm, pair/share activity and then we read the passage on sites in Babylonia and compared/contrasted.  These could be before/after reading activities.  I read the rest of the text to them with the students following along.  The teacher’s guide was marked with questions that corresponded to sections of the text.  Before reading the section, I introduced the question and asked them to think about it as we were reading the text.  Then we discussed the questions at the end of the reading.  Mostly, I did this to keep control of the class because I was a sub, but they actually were pretty engaged and we had good discussions. 





About susanm2012

I am a teacher licensure candidate at University of St. Thomas. This blog is an assignment in my Reading for 5-12 students.
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