Last month, I blogged about one of my favorite reading strategies, T4. This month, I’m going to share some of the ways I teach and use writing in my classroom and crowd source great ideas from you.
Being a high school social studies teacher is a blessing and a curse when it comes to teaching writing: we are not as constrained as ELA teachers (especially those with a scripted curriculum), but sometimes having a lot of freedom is overwhelming – what type of writing instruction is best for my students right now? I’m frequently asking myself these important questions: what writing strategies will help my students…
- stretch intellectually and approach new, challenging writing tasks with a growth mindset?
- excel in specific writing tasks, like AP-style Free Response and Document Based questions?
- meet and exceed standards for nonfiction writing?
Here are some strategies that I’ve found helpful in my specific context (A.P. Government and U.S. History):
- Using the A.P.-style FRQ (Free Response Question) in both AP and non-AP classes. The short-answer format is less intimidating to reluctant writers and they get practice writing concise arguments using evidence. Regularly asking students to write and revise FRQs also provides an abundance of evidence to assess students on the Common Core Standards for writing (Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, & Technical Subjects): Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.
- Creating my own DBQs (Document Based Questions) from Library of Congress and National Archives materials available online and using primary sources, including pictures, as prompts. DBQs are great for assessing students on CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.1 (standard specific to History/Social Studies): Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.
- Full-length partner (research) essays. Students collaborate on writing a five paragraph essay, assess their own writing (and their contribution as a collaborator), edit multiple drafts, and use technology to publish their writing. Partner essays are great for assessing students on standards about the production and distribution of discipline-specific writing (including maintaining formal style and revising/editing).
In the comments, please share the strategies you use to facilitate writing in your content area. Write on!
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