Entries Tagged 'Writing Across the Curriculum' ↓
October 23rd, 2013 — Writing & Journal Prompts, Writing Across the Curriculum
PIONEER stories of the wild frontier continue to enchant American children and teachers alike. This week, tempt your kids to sit down and journal with these pioneer writing prompts!
1. Westward Ho!
When pioneer families moved west, they packed only the most important belongings. Imagine your parents just sold your house and bought a covered wagon. You can keep only three outfits, two books, and one toy. Which items will you choose and why?
2. The Oregon Trail
Write a story using at least five of these words: Missouri, prairie, wagon train, dog, sunbonnet, Indians, campfire, thunderstorm, river, Idaho.
3. Little House in the White Snow
After one year on a new homestead, your family has built a sturdy, one-room log cabin. Describe this room on a winter evening, using your senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
4. The Language of Friendship
After settling into your new prairie home, you learn that your nearest neighbors are immigrants who don’t speak a word of English. Make a list of the first ten words or phrases you will try to teach your new friends. Now, make a list of three to five steps for how to teach these English words.
5. Now and Then
Farm life on the 1870s frontier was quite different from city life in the eastern states, where streets bustled with horses and carriages and homes were lit by kerosene lamps. In a letter to your cousin who lives back east, compare and contrast your old life in the city with your new life on a Nebraska farm.
Be sure to check back each week for more Writing Prompt Wednesdays!
February 25th, 2013 — Homeschooling, Writing Across the Curriculum
SPRING is just around the corner, and with it the joy of finally stepping outside for hands-on learning. Like many moms, you probably look forward to a new season of field trips. But if you always assign the five paragraph “What I Learned on my Field Trip” report the moment your family returns home, your kids may not quite share your excitement.
If you already use a writing program, an extra report can be overwhelming to an elementary child. Reports can also frustrate a student who spent so much time enjoying her outing that she forgot to take notes. Why not follow up your field trip with a writing activity that appeals to your squirmy son, imaginative daughter, or inquisitive preteen?
Make a Word Bank
After a fun but tiring excursion and a long drive home, your child might be overwhelmed at the thought of writing a report the next day. He can easily show some of the things he learned simply by making lists or word banks!
First, encourage your child to think of one or two things that stood out to him. Was your third grader especially fascinated by the jellyfish at the aquarium? Help him make a list of adjectives, nouns, and verbs that remind him of this awesome creature. Perhaps you’ll want to do this together (out loud at the dinner table?). Or, set your kids loose in the backyard with sidewalk chalk, and take a picture of the word lists they create.
Write a Story
Perhaps your book-loving daughter has just waltzed through the halls of a Victorian home or romped through the fields and cabins of a living history farm. She’s already aglow with dreams of adventure in other times and places. Why not encourage her to write a short story inspired by her day?
Structure the assignment to keep it manageable. Ask her to introduce the main character and the character’s main problem in the first paragraph. The middle paragraphs should show the character attempting to fix the problem. The final paragraph should provide some kind of resolution or closure.
The story might follow a wealthy man attempting to send an urgent message in the days before telephones. Or, it might revolve around a farm girl who wants to make her mother a present for Christmas. Whatever the story, make sure your child includes historical details learned on the field trip, such as the clothing, inventions, or entertainment of the time.
Super Sleuth Research
If your student displays a scientific bent, a trip to the science museum is merely the first step in feeding his ever-growing curiosity. Instead of asking him to rehash what he just learned in a post-field trip report, consider assigning a series of questions and answers—all prepared by the student himself, of course.
Begin by asking him to write one, two, or three genuine questions based on his new knowledge. Which exhibit in the museum left him wanting to know more? Which train of thought did the docent leave unexplored? Questions should focus on hows and whys that require explanation, rather than simple when or where questions that can be answered with a single phrase. For example: Why had no one invented a practical light bulb before Thomas Edison? How do scientists agree on carbon dating?
After you approve the questions, set your student free to conduct research. Then, ask him to write one (or all) of his answers in paragraph form. When finished, have him check his own work for organization, clarity, and proper grammar!
* * *
Your home may be the training ground for budding artists, novelists, and scientists alike. By combining the hands-on learning of field trips with customized follow-up assignments, you are teaching your kids that writing is not only relevant, but fun!
Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science. Daniella blogs at www.waterlilywriter.wordpress.com.
September 26th, 2012 — Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing Lessons
Extra! Extra! Read all about it!
Making a newspaper is a great way to learn more about a time period or even a specific day of a famous event. During our homeschooling years, we put together several, including a Jamestown settlement newspaper and a Victorian era newspaper.
This activity is perfect for an individual history project, but several students can also work together. Because there are so many different sections in a newspaper, there’s something for everyone, from the most advanced writer to the youngest child.
TIP: If your children are not especially familiar with newspapers, pick one up at the grocery store. Have them do this free Newspaper Scavenger Hunt (courtesy of Moms and Munchkins) before launching into their project!
Consider the period you are currently (or soon to be) studying. Create a historical newspaper that centers on a specific year, decade, or era. Whether children are working alone or together, their newspaper should include 5-8 articles or sections:
1. National news story
What was happening in the news at the time? (Consider political, social, and religious news of the day in your country of study.)
- Are you studying about Christopher Columbus? Then the national news story will probably be in Spain.
- Are you learning about the the Renaissance? Your national news story would be about events in Italy or France.
- Are you studying an American historical event? This news story needs to happen in the United States.
In addition to library books and other resources, web sites such as HistoryOrb.com, Animated Atlas, and Church History Timeline will help spark topic ideas. For specific help, try websites such as Roman Society, Elizabethan Era, Colonial Daily Life, or Victorian England.
Don’t forget to include a headline!
2. International news story
What was happening elsewhere in the world at this time? To find out, explore a timeline such as World History Timeline B.C. or World History Timeline A.D.
3. Letters to the Editor
Everyday citizens write letters to the newspaper expressing their opinions about current events. Your children might use this opportunity to tell why they think:
- the Church should not sell indulgences
- the Virginia Company is misleading new colonists
- Industrial-era factories shouldn’t hire child laborers
- the United States should practice isolationism
What sorts of jobs did people have during this time period? What were the common occupations of the day? What kinds of things did people buy and sell? Kids can do a little research to find answers to these questions. Then they can write:
- For sale ads
- Help-wanted ads (apprentices needed, etc.)
- Ads for lost animals, runaway slaves, traveling companions, etc.
5. Crossword or other puzzle
Most modern newspapers include games or puzzles for entertainment. Your children can put puzzles in their newspapers, too!
Crosswords are the most “educational” because they require the student to come up with clues. Invite children to come up with crossword vocabulary and appropriate clues that fit the time period. These websites will help them generate a printable puzzle:
6. Vital statistics
Newspapers often include information that tells more about the people of the day. As they create their own historical newspaper, your kids might want to include vital statistics such as:
- Casualty lists during war times
This can be especially interesting when they report about real people. What important people were born? Did anyone of importance get married or die? Was a notorious crime committed during this era?
7. Miscellaneous sections or news
Likewise, most newspapers have sections that provide other types of information or amusement. Invite your students to consider including:
- Advice column
- Doctor’s column
- Comic strips or political cartoons
8. Photos or other images
In addition to articles and sections, it’s fun to include images! Try a site like Historical Stock Photos.com for images you can download for free.
Edit: After posting this article, I received an email from the Historical Newspapers Database recommending Timothy Hughes Rare and Early Newspapers as a useful resource when creating your own historical newspapers. You and your students can look at pictures of real newspapers printed during the time period you’re researching.
Making a newspaper is a fun, educational way to practice new skills while writing across the curriculum. Have you ever had your children create a newspaper? What time period did you choose to write about?
Copyright 2012 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
August 6th, 2012 — Writing Across the Curriculum
SPECIAL PROJECTS can grow naturally from your children’s studies and interests. When they invest in a such a project, it can benefit them by:
- Providing the opportunity for delight-directed learning;
- Opening doors to more deeply explore a topic;
- Appealing to their unique interests;
- Allowing them to use their individual skills and abilities;
- Helping them experience greater success with writing.
When kids are inventive, artistic, or crafty, it’s important to find ways to incorporate those interests into other subjects. They’ll more readily embrace a history, science, or other writing assignment when they can use their gifts and talents alongside the writing.
Here are a few ways imaginative students can combine creativity with writing using these art-inspired writing projects.
1. Alphabet Book
Create an illustrated alphabet book or scrapbook representing a historical era, single historical subject, civilization or country, or science topic.
- First, make an alphabetical list from A to Z. Brainstorm and write down several words, phrases, or terms for each letter of the alphabet that directly relate to your overall topic. Narrow your choices and make your final selections before creating pages.
- Make one page for each letter. Choose a word or phrase that relates to your book’s theme. Example: xylem (Plant theme, letter X)
- Write a sentence that offers a brief explanation. Example: Xylem are plant tissues that transport water and minerals from the roots to other parts of a plant.
- Draw pictures or cut photos from a magazine or online source to illustrate the sentence and embellish pages.
Possible Themes: Japan, Incas, the Renaissance, the Civil War, the Victorian Era, nutrition and health, plants, rocks and minerals, weather
2. State Birds or Flowers Book
Research the birds or flowers for each of the 50 states, and make an illustrated booklet.
Include the name of the bird or flower. In your own words, write a few sentences telling interesting facts about each.
This activity will take time, so spread it out over several months, perhaps drawing and coloring two birds or flowers each week. This would also make a great family or group project!
Official US State Birds
Official US State Flowers
What period of time are you studying? Design and make a collage about a certain decade, historical era, invention, or historical figure. Collect pictures from online sources or old magazines such as National Geographic, which you can often pick up at library sales or thrift stores for pennies.
Alternatively, create a college that reflects the popular cultureof a particular time period. Your collage could include painters/artists, books/authors, sports figures, entertainers, musicians/music titles, and clothing for a certain decade or era.
Either way, prepare a written guide that explains the symbols, people, and other images you chose, telling the importance of each.
How to Make a Collage
14 Tips on How to Make a Collage (see “Paper Collage”)
Make Collage Art Using Magazine Clippings
4. Coloring Book
Do you draw or sketch? This would be a great way to use your artistic skills!
- Create 12-15 outline drawings that illustrate the life of a famous historical figure, the historic events of a particular era, sea creatures from an oceanography study, leaves or flowers from a plant study, or other subject-specific area you’re learning about.
- Add a caption to each page.
- Include an appendix for the back of the coloring book that features a brief paragraph about each of the coloring pages.
- Design and color a cover.
- Assemble the pages into a book, which you can have bound inexpensively at most office-supply or copy stores.
Consider photocopying the originals to create several coloring books to share with others.
January 21st, 2011 — Essays & Research Papers, Teaching Writing, Writing Across the Curriculum
Writing across the curriculum is a phrase homeschoolers hear more and more. With many students struggling under the weight of their various courses and moms juggling lesson plans and schoolwork for their large families, your response may well be, “That’s nice. But can it simplify my life?”
Two Birds with One Stone
Unfamiliar with the expression “writing across the curriculum”? Simply put, it means using writing assignments as a vehicle to help kids explore other areas of study.
Those who use a writing program “as is” tend to teach writing as a separate subject, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. But if you’re teaching many children or you want to streamline your schedule, writing across the curriculum may be ideal for you. Rather than approach writing as a separate discipline, students apply generic writing lessons to subjects like history, literature, or science. Not only does it boost writing ability, it helps them better understand the content and specialized vocabulary of a particular subject.
Writing across the curriculum increases knowledge of the subject matter while helping students develop critical thinking skills. To prepare for the assignment, they must do a bit of reading or research. As they take in the information, brainstorm, and write, they gain greater understanding of the topic.
Second, it makes everyone’s life simpler. Instead of a “writing” assignment here and a history or literature composition there, the two can be easily combined. The result? Less writing for the kids and less grading and lesson planning for Mom.
Students can use writing across the curriculum to write descriptively by examining details of food, costumes, or objects from a culture they’re learning about. They can write about an oriole’s nest for science, a carved African antelope for geography, a coonskin cap for literature, or a Peruvian flute for music.
If you don’t have the object on hand, a vivid photograph can serve as an acceptable substitute. DK Eyewitness Books make excellent choices because of their clear, intricate photos.
Consider a news article. Students can use the five Ws—who, what, when, where, why—to explore an incident they’re studying in another subject. What a great opportunity to learn more about an historical event, an archaeological find, or a scientific discovery and write an article about it.
Other kinds of informative writing, such as biographies, news articles, or short reports, can also dovetail with current areas of study. That’s what writing across the curriculum is all about!
Looking for more ways to write across the curriculum? Look no further than the personal narrative. Your student might choose to become Joan of Arc (history), Albert Einstein (science), the Apostle Paul (Bible), or George Frideric Handel (music).
After reading about an especially exciting event in her subject’s life, the student must personalize the information to write a brief first-person narrative as if she herself were that individual: journaling with a twist!
Alternatively, she can “interview” the famous person and write a third-person narrative. Writing from a different point of view challenges critical thinking skills.
In junior high and high school, you can incorporate essay writing into just about every subject. It’s important for your teen to articulate an argument, write a defendable thesis statement, and support it with facts, logic, and examples.
Essays can describe, define, persuade, or discuss cause and effect. Students can compare and contrast battles, Bible characters, or ideologies. They can write an exposé on the Virginia Company and its dealings with Jamestown, an opinion about whether the earth is round, or a letter to the editor complaining about the conditions in London factories during the Industrial Revolution.
Projects and Activities
Look for projects and activities that involve writing but don’t necessarily result in formal compositions. Here’s one idea: ditch the traditional—and boring—book report (“This book is about…”) and ask your child to make a mobile by cutting shapes from sturdy paper. On the front, have him color pictures of significant characters or scenes from the book, and on the back, write a colorful description or brief character analysis. When finished, he can string each shape with yarn and dangle the papers from a wire hanger. Such an activity can be adapted to all ages.
Your student’s talents and interests can also play a part in creating out-of-the-ordinary projects. Instead of explaining a process the traditional way, one clever student created an unusual instruction manual for a literature assignment based upon The Lord of the Rings: she explained how to make an Elvish sword. Rather than use notebook paper or a computer printout, she copied her final draft onto parchment paper whose edges she had carefully burned. Then she embellished each page, writing runic characters with a calligraphy pen to create a beautiful project worth keeping and treasuring.
- Draw and label a diagram for science to explain photosynthesis, a volcano, or the water cycle. Include a short written explanation of the process.
- Make a scrapbook of a historical period, famous person, or country (Renaissance, Vikings, Australia), or create one featuring art, music, or science. Depending on the nature of the scrapbook, elements could include daily life, journals, maps, timelines, sketches, flags, plant taxonomies, pressed leaves, photos, biographies, summaries, definitions, and news articles.
- Design a brochure about an historic location. Include drawings and brief descriptions about key events, people, and places.
Inside of "Come to California" brochure
Colonial newspaper advertisements
If “writing across the curriculum” has thus far been a mystery to you—one of those terms that everyone tosses around about but never actually defines—hopefully you now feel better equipped to give it a try with one or more of your children’s writing lessons.
Some of you may decide to use each and every writing lesson for the purpose of writing across the curriculum. Others will only apply a couple of assignments in this manner. Regardless, everyone in your family will benefit.
Copyright 2011 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
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If you’re a WriteShop I or II user, you’ll be excited to know there’s a Writing Across the Curriculum section in Appendix B to help you tie each WriteShop assignment into other subjects you’re studying. No projects here, but at least you can direct the lesson toward history or science and kill two birds with one stone! WriteShop Primary for your little ones also offers Writing Across the Curriculum ideas with each lesson.
February 2nd, 2010 — Poetry, Resources & Links, Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing Games & Activities
Math poetry—who would have thought?
I’ve always been a big fan of writing across the curriculum. After all, it just makes sense to tie writing into as many subjects as possible. Why separate the two when they’re so much happier married?
It was’t hard to assign related writing when studying history, art, geography, Bible, or literature, though I must confess that dovetailing math and writing was a stretch for us. (I did sometimes have the kids write their own word problems. That counts, right?)
My new friend Jimmie at Jimmie’s Collage took up Math Mama’s challenge to write a poem that puts a positive spin on math. I think it’s a brilliant idea, and both she and her daughter Sprite wrote some very creative math poems. Here’s one by Sprite. Isn’t it clever?
Untitled, by Sprite
Dividing is divine,
And four plus five is nine.
Adding is just fine,
Four plus five is nine.
Negative and positive are always great.
But four plus six is is not eight.
There are no prizes involved, and no deadline, so why not plan a time to squeeze this activity into your homeschooling—and join Math Mama’s challenge. And if you’d like to share your poems here as well, you know I’d just love to see ‘em!
Meanwhile, you can visit a page filled with fun number poems you’re sure to enjoy. Here’s the first one to whet your appetite!
Penny, penny, easy spent,
Copper brown and worth one cent.
Nickel, nickel, thick and fat,
You’re worth 5. I know that.
Dime, dime, little and thin,
I remember—you’re worth 10.
Quarter, quarter, big and bold,
You’re worth 25, I am told.
Half a dollar, half a dollar, giant size.
50 cents to buy some fries.
Dollar, dollar, green and long,
With 100 cents you can’t go wrong.
Edit: Jimmie duly chastised me, wondering why I wasn’t writing math poetry. So I too am rising to the challenge! Here’s my humble offering.
Of Sides and Angles
Geometry, ordered and tidy,
Pyramid, circle, and locus;
Precision of sides and of angles,
A midpoint that keeps me in focus.
Symmetry, area, compass,
Diameter bisects a chord;
Distance, dimension, and drawing,
You see why I never get bored.
Parallel planes and perspective,
The measure and tilt of a line;
Volume and ratio and surface,
Geometry suits me just fine.
January 4th, 2010 — Editing & Revising, Reluctant Writers, Stumbling Blocks to Writing, Teaching Writing, Writing Across the Curriculum
Sometimes, your teen’s opposition to writing has nothing at all to do with laziness, procrastination, perfectionism, or confidence—and everything to do with relevance. In other words, she resists writing because she wonders: What’s the point?
This brings us to today’s article in the series on 10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing.
Stumbling Block #9
Problem: (1) Your student can’t see a purpose for the assignment itself, or (2) she can’t understand why she has to go through all the steps of the writing process.
Solution: (1) Make writing assignments relevant, and (2) help your student see the value of refining her work.
Make Writing Assignments Relevant
Though it’s nice to give our children choices and options, the kind of writing (such as a short report, book summary, or compare/contrast essay) — and even the specific topic of that composition — will be dictated to them from time to time. Like it or not, sometimes they have to write on a subject of our choosing, and there’s just no way around it.
Still, for the most part, students are more willing to write if the assignment feels purposeful. Writing for writing’s sake—to describe a sunset, for example—may not motivate them at all. But writing as it applies to their Civil War studies or a lesson on botany will make more sense to them—and may even spark enthusiasm—especially if it’s a subject they love.
So whenever possible, look for ways to tailor the topic to your students’ interests and passions. After all, the more relevant the writing assignment, the more likely they’ll cooperate.
Writing across the curriculum is one way to accomplish this. You retain control over the general subject matter while offering your child more specific topic choices. Some of these ideas may help get you started:
Demonstrate the Value of the Writing Process
Getting kids to write can be challenging enough, but getting them to embrace the whole writing process is another thing altogether. Each step of the writing process is vital, from brainstorming to final draft, but students often think of these “extra steps” as time wasters.
Editing, revising, and rewriting, for instance, can be downright painful—for both of you! Most kids hate this part of the writing process. They like what they wrote; therefore, they’re highly resistant to making any changes. Regardless of how loudly, tearfully, or convincingly they protest, this is a necessary part of the writing process, and something all writers—including your children—have to do.
Other Skills Take Many Steps
Illustrate how other skills require many steps too, and how these steps are quite similar to the prewriting, brainstorming, drafting, and revising that comprise the writing process.
For instance, playing a musical instrument, a sport, or a video game requires investment of time and a working out of many steps. After all, how do you get to a new skill level except by practice? This makes perfect sense to your teen.
She can also grasp that in order to create a new recipe, a chef has to prepare a dish several times so he can figure out how to improve it. Is it too bland? Too dry? Could it use a topping? Is the texture pleasing to the palate? How would it taste with less salt? More vanilla?
The chef tastes each batch, adds or removes seasonings, and adjusts ingredient quantities. When he’s satisfied, he prepares the dish for others and asks for feedback. Then it’s back to the test kitchen once again!
No Author Publishes His First Draft
A chef would never add an untested item to his restaurant’s menu until he’s sure it’s the best it can be. Refining and perfecting his recipe is a process, and it takes time and patience.
Would your child dream of playing a brand-new or unfamiliar sonatina at her piano recital? Of course not! It’s the piece she’s practiced and refined that she feels more comfortable presenting.
Similarly, no author ever publishes his first draft. His book or article goes through repeated self-editing—and numerous revisions—before he feels ready to submit it to his editor, who in turn adds his own suggestions for improvement. Your child would not enjoy her favorite novels nearly as much had a wise editor not repeatedly put the author through the steps of the editing process.
Remind your resistant writer that she goes through the writing process with a goal in mind: the final draft. After all, it’s not the rough draft that becomes her published writing project; it’s the polished and revised version that she’ll want to share with others.
Once she’s gone through the revising process, ask her to compare her first draft with the final version. When she can see the progress she’s made from that rough beginning to her very best attempt—the final draft, the purpose for the steps in the writing process becomes clearer. Hopefully this means less whining as she learns to approach the steps of the writing process with an improved attitude!
Next week we wrap up our 10 Stumbling Blocks to Writing series with a special focus on special needs: Stumbling Block #10– Learning Challenges.
Share a comment: Which step of the writing process does your child most resist—brainstorming, writing, or revising?
2010 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
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The Teacher’s Manual for WriteShop I and WriteShop II includes ideas for writing across the curriculum. Suggestions for applying each lesson’s skills to a topic of current study appear in Appendix B.
Photo of girl courtesy of stock.xchng
September 24th, 2009 — Essays & Research Papers, High school, Writing Across the Curriculum
Another question from the WriteShop mailbag . . .
Q: Can you help? I’d like to learn how to use Write Shop II with topics from my high schooler’s history studies. For example, I’d like to give her an assignment such as: “Write a 3 paragraph paper on Gregory The Great.”
A: You will be glad to learn that you can use almost all WriteShop lessons to write about things you’re studying in history.
Writing Across the Curriculum
To write about history, you have several choices. First, take a look at Appendix B of your Teacher’s Manual, specifically TM pp. B-4 to B-7. This section, called “Writing Across the Curriculum,” gives you all sorts of ideas for using each WriteShop assignment as a springboard for writing about other subjects such as history or art (the WriteShop II ideas begin on TM p. B-6).
This way, you could give your daughter important practice writing the short report from Lesson 19, having her write a biography instead of an animal report. She could certainly write about Gregory the Great or any other figure from history. This important assignment is the first WriteShop lesson that teaches how to organize a longer composition.
The remaining essay section (Lessons 25-30) will then teach a new set of skills: beginning with Lesson 25, your student will write short essays that give her opinion, compare or contrast, and describe or define. Each one of these essays can be used with history lessons.
In addition to the suggestions on TM p. B-7, you can also find loads of recommended topics and essay ideas on TM pp. B-21 to B-25. For example, here are some ways you could use Gregory the Great as a subject for some of the upcoming essay assignments:
- On TM p. B-23, one of the suggestions says: “Discuss the significance of a famous battle.” You could tweak this topic to say: “Discuss the significance of the reign of Gregory the Great.”
- Also on TM p. B-23, instead of describing “what made George Washington a great president,” you might suggest: “Discuss three major accomplishments of Gregory the Great.”
- On TM p. B-25, one of the suggestions says: “Compare or contrast two presidents (scientists, explorers).” Instead, have her compare Pope Gregory I with Pope Leo I.
Once you’ve completed the lessons, it would be wise to continue re-assigning essays from Lessons 25-30 on a regular basis to keep your daughter in practice. So, once she’s used up her lesson-specific checklists, you can provide her with photocopies of the all-purpose essay checklists on pp. C-3 to C-6 (Teacher’s Manual Appendix C). With these checklists, you will be able to give your own parameters for each assignment’s length, enabling you to teach longer essays if you so desire.
. . . . .
WriteShop I and WriteShop II have a proven track record! Using the program will help prepare your teens for advanced high school and college writing. For beginning and average writers in 7th-10th grades, consider WriteShop I. For students in grades 8-11 who need a bit more challenge, take a look at WriteShop II.
September 29th, 2008 — High school, Resources & Links, Writing Across the Curriculum
In Journaling . . . with a twist I talked about how much our family enjoyed using journaling ideas for writing across the curriculum. Even though the journaling tips and examples would work for all ages, they are especially effective with younger children, even pre-readers.
Studying Real Historical Journals
Here’s a great idea for for a project that springboards from actual historical diaries—true living books written by men and women who lived and experienced the times.
Because of the more challenging vocabulary found in most old journals, this activity is probably better suited for your high-school aged students, though some junior highers with more advanced reading skills could do this as well.
Writing Diary Entries
- Historical journals, narratives, and diaries abound, both in books and online. Have your student read the actual narrative or journal of a person you’re learning about in history.
- Ask her to choose five key events or times in this person’s life.
- Then, in her own words, have her write five diary entries for those pivotal times or incidents.
- She must include the time and location for each entry.
- If the incident is a major historical event, she must show the role the person played.
- In addition, she needs to weave into her diary entry any background information that’s needed for context and understanding.
Below you’ll find some links to resources for online journals. As always, parent preview or supervision is recommended.
The Diary Junction – Internet resource linking to hundreds of historical diaries. Search alphabetically or chronologically
Copyright © 2008 by Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.
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Looking for a more structured program to incorporate writing writing across the curriculum? WriteShop lessons can help your teens learn important writing skills while offering flexibility of topics. Visit our website at writeshop.com to learn more!
July 7th, 2008 — Teaching Writing, Writing Across the Curriculum
Who says writing must always mean a report or an essay?
While it’s important that our kids know these skills, let’s face it: not everyone loves to write.
A More Painless Approach
Ben wasn’t so keen on writing when he was a kid. Even as a young teen, writing gave him no end of grief. Imagine his joy when I would give him a choice between a history report and some sort of project. The project always won.
One year, he made an amazing tri-fold display of the Renaissance and Reformation. He loved searching through old National Geographics (bought for a dime apiece at our library bookstore) for the perfect photos. Then he spent hours arranging them just so for a beautiful display. Writing a short report on the Renaissance didn’t seem so painful when it accompanied the project.
And what young boy doesn’t love all things soldier-ish and warlike? So it came as no surprise that Ben opted to make a Greek Hoplite helmet and shield as his 6th-grade Ancient Greece project. The little article that accompanied it, on the subject of Hoplite soldiers, was actually fun for him to write because he’d had such a great time learning about their armor, weapons, and ways of war.
Projects as Writing Alternatives
Special projects allow students to explore a subject in more depth without having to prove their knowledge the “traditional” way—via a long, dreary report.
Projects make great hands-on ways to study topics of special interest. Sure, some might end up as reports, but often a project will incorporate writing while allowing the student’s skills, talents, and passions to shine through. A project can:
- Appeal to different interests and learning styles.
- Immerse your student in a subject he’s crazy about.
- Call upon his unique skills and talents to create the project.
- Incorporate writing without the need for the writing to dominate.
One of Ben’s favorite projects was the construction of a sand pyramid and Sphinx. Living just an hour from the beach afforded us the freedom to head south for the day so Ben could make his project. He carefully carved and sculpted a fabulous Great Pyramid with a really cool replica of the Sphinx. We preserved his efforts on camera, and for his actual project, he made a flip book detailing the steps of the process in photos and words. The waves long ago washed away his sculptures, but they remain forever captured in his imaginative flip book.
Disguising the Broccoli
Writing across the curriculum gives students a chance to dovetail writing with other subjects you’re studying. Combining writing with history, art, music, or literature gives a child greater reasons for writing than “because I told you.” And just as hiding broccoli under cheese sauce makes it easier for veggie-phobes to eat their greens, combining a writing activity with a fun project makes the writing part easier to swallow too.
So as you begin to plan your lessons for summer or fall, why not provide your struggling or less-than-enthusiastic writer with an opportunity to gain some success through a project?
Projects shouldn’t take the place of other writing. After all, your kids still need to know how to write stories, essays, reports, and letters. But a project that includes writing will expand your student’s knowledge, vocabulary, and writing skills as he builds, draws, sculpts, paints, cooks, compares, or composes.
I’ve got so many great ideas for projects that appeal to all sorts of learners. Check back now and then for more ideas to spark writing in a brand-new way!
And if you’re a WriteShop I or II user, you’ll be excited to know there’s a Writing Across the Curriculum section in Appendix B to help you tie each WriteShop assignment into other subjects you’re studying. No projects here, but at least you can direct the lesson toward history or science and kill two birds with one stone!