I decided to take the summer off and not post here. Out of habit, out of sight, out of mind! Result: it has been very difficult to get back into writing regularly. Not only has my habit of posting been disrupted, but my ease with the writing process has been adversely affected. Words don’t flow as easily, and my new idea generator seems stuck in neutral. It occurs to me that the same thing happens to our students when we don’t expect them to write on a regular basis!
The ability to communicate is a life skill. It’s one of the 4 C’s in the 21st century skills set and encompasses several standards in the Common Core. Furthermore, developing students’ abilities to communicate effectively is just common sense–it’s an every century skill!
Teams need to work together to build their students’ ability to communicate in a variety of ways, including writing. Here’s a terrific article about one very low performing high school that tackled writing together and found improvement in students’ skill levels in other areas: “The Writing Revolution” in The Atlantic.
Everything students write does not need to be corrected and graded. Sometimes the assignments are just practices–like shooting hoops on the school playground. Providing students opportunities to try out new words, sentence structures, and genres will have dividends as students become more comfortable with the written word.
A few ideas to get started as a team…
- An idea from the article above–have students summarize in writing the big ideas from the lesson of the day (in any class) using sentence structures they have studied in Language Arts class. Write a compound sentence summarizing ratios. Write a sentence beginning with “although” that explains the process photosynthesis.
- Use journals or writing logs in every class.
- Discussion starter prompts
- Practices for citing evidence in an argument piece
- Creative writing (The creative economy generates personal income & revenue for state and federal governments–we shouldn’t ignore this aspect of our students’ education)
- Write sentences using words from Word Wall
- Keep a team blog that informs parents and the community about what is happening on your team. Have students write the different posts.
- Plan interdisciplinary units where students synthesize information from several disciplines–have you looked at the Webquest site recently for ideas?
- Teach students to access online writing resources in all classes (OWL. Grammar Girl, thesaurus)
- Browse ReadWriteThink together to identify ideas for working as a team on literacy skills.
Our students will not improve as writers unless they write. Working as a team to provide daily opportunities for students to experiment with words, sentence structures, and different genres is an important educational goal.
Additional sources on writing across the curriculum in middle school:
West Virginia DOE–specific strategies