Writing Across the Curriculum:
A Methodical Approach
Writing is one of the most critical skills a student develops in high school. It is also one of the most frustrating for students to master. By using a methodical approach, you can defuse some of that frustration, while helping students learn that writing is as much about process as product.
This Week's Tips
Help Students Narrow Essay Topics (Monday)
Give students a list of essay topics to choose from rather than open-ended assignments. While some students would prefer to choose their own topic, many will benefit from a focused teacher-approved list. You can still approve student-suggested topics on an individual basis. This also will make it easier for you to spot plagiarism.
Use Rubrics to Improve Writing (Tuesday)
Give students a grading rubric and explain it thoroughly. It is important for students to see how assessment works and that it is a fair and unbiased system. It will also help them understand that there are many components in writing to keep in mind such as grammar, consistency, accuracy, and style.
Models Help Improve Student Writing (Wednesday)
Use writing models to demostrate the type of paper you are expecting
. You can draw upon papers from previous years, but be sure to keep authors anonymous. Consider asking students to work in pairs or groups and assign the paper a grade based on the rubric you will use for their own papers. Then, reveal the grade given and the justification for the grade. This is an excellent way for students to learn to critically analyze a piece of writing, including their own.
For an excellent example of annotated writing models, check out the Glencoe Writer's Choice.
Writing in Class Improves Student Work (Thursday)
Make time for writing during class. It is helpful for students to actually spend time writing in class. Whether you give students time to work on a draft or assign them a short writing task, it helps students to value writing as a process. You may be able to use individual students' questions as a teaching opportunity for the entire class. It also will allow you to monitor students as they write.
Ask Students to Write in Stages (Friday)
Structure writing assignments so that students must plan their essays in advance. Require students to complete writing assignments in stages that can be reviewed for credit. First they can hand in an outline, then an introductory paragraph with thesis statement, then a rough draft, and so on. This teaches students that writing is a process that requires organization and revision. It also helps prevent them from writing the whole paper the night before itís due!