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LANGUAGE ARTS :: SECONDARY RESOURCES :: WRITING HANDBOOK :: MY STUDENTS DON'T THINK THAT THEY HAVE TO WRITE ON MY CONTENT AREA. HOW CAN I HELP THEM SEE THE RELEVANCE OF WRITING IN MY CLASS?

MY STUDENTS DON'T THINK THAT THEY HAVE TO WRITE ON MY CONTENT AREA. HOW CAN I HELP THEM SEE THE RELEVANCE OF WRITING IN MY CLASS?

Bachman-Williams (2001), a science teacher, argues that teachers need to teach literacy in the content areas because "… literacy opens up avenues to teach the higher thinking necessary in our classes. Students need to read, write, and think to comprehend and learn in the content areas. If we have literate students, then we can teach our content" (p. 8). Although students may initially question why writing is being done outside of English classes, teachers can help them understand that, in many ways, writing is thinking, so they benefit from using it as a tool in other disciplines as well.

One way teachers can show the importance of writing in the content area is to expose students to documents in the field that have had a profound influence on the direction of the discipline. For example, in science teachers can provide excerpts from works by scientists such as Einstein, Oppenheimer, and Copernicus . Another way is for teachers to identify some of the kinds of thinking that students need to be able to do in the content area and explicitly instruct students in how to use a variety of kinds of writing to help develop different kinds of thinking. For example, in geometry students need to be able to use logic to solve a problem, and writing analytically can help develop that skill. Another way is to have professionals in the field discuss the kinds of writing that are part of their job. Finally, teachers can engage students in meaningful writing activities in class as a way for them to "believe" in the power of writing as they see its purpose and benefits.

Example
In Technical Math I, students keep a learning log as they progress through a unit. They use the log for not only recording information about how to solve problems but also as a place to reflect on their learning. The teacher helps students see the value of this by encouraging them to reread the entry from the previous day as review at the beginning of each class and modeling how they can use the learning log to help them prepare for a test on a unit.

Example
In Early Childhood Education II, students participate in a day of "shadowing" a professional in the field. The teacher creates a list of topics that students must ask the professional during their day together, with at least one question relating to the writing that is a necessary and everyday part of the job. Students then share what they learned about writing in that profession with the rest of the class.

 

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