Those of you that follow my blog know that I teach in an elementary school. I swap classes with 1 other teacher. We both teach our own ELA, but I've always taught the math to both sections, and she has always taught all the science/social studies. We both get frustrated when it comes to teaching writing. We want to make writing authentic, we want it to be purposeful, and we want it woven into all content areas. We don't want it to be a stand alone subject, taught in isolation. Unfortunately what we want and what actually happens are two very different things.
With the Common Core coming, my grade level partner & I decided to try to make some changes in the upcoming year revolving around writing. The Common Core has 4 basics types of writing that are required in 5th grade:
- writing to persuade
- writing to teach
- writing to tell a story
- writing about research
With this in mind, we've both decided to eliminate writing from our day...I don't mean we won't be teaching writing, I mean we won't be teaching writing by itself. Beginning next year we will be teaching writing in all the other content areas.
Here is how we're going to break it down:
During math, my students will be doing the usual flipped classroom requirements (which, by the way, involve a lot of writing when they do their WSQ's). However, the change is going to come at the end of the unit. At the end of each unit the students always do some sort of performance based assessment...I guarantee you that each child will have to WRITE a lot of explanations on it. In addition to their performance based assessments, my students also blog. They will be required to write a blog entry at the end of each unit that teaches someone else about one of the learning goals from their unit. Last year we blogged with a few other 5th grade classes, but this year I want to kick it up a notch. I want to try to connect with another 5th grade class (hopefully John Fritzky's class will be on board again)...but I also want to connect with a High School or Middle School class...I want my student's writing to have an audience. So I'm hoping that somewhere out there I can find a Middle School or High School teacher who wants to blog with a group of 5th graders. I don't even care if it's a math class. Quite frankly, I hope it's not. I think it would be great if a group of 9th grade biology students wanted to blog with us. It would probably do wonders towards getting my kids to love science, who knows?!? Sorry, that got a bit wordy, I tend to do that when I get excited!
Persuasive writing is going to be covered in science and social studies. I don't know exactly how, because it's not my thing, but I am certain it will be :)
I dabbled in having a genius hour with my class last year, and it was A-MA-ZING! Research goes hand-in-hand with genius hour. That being said, the students will also be doing small research projects during our RtI time, as well as in science/social studies.
Our final writing topic is writing to tell a story...that seems like a no brainer to weave into our reading block.
The only way this whole plan is going to actually work, is if we extend our normal math/science/ss time. We used to meet 50 minutes each day. If our schedule works out the way we are hoping, our switch time will be bumped up to 75 minutes each day...I'm SO excited about the potential of extra time, now I just need to make sure I don't get carried away with the math & forget the writing :)
I'm also really excited about some of the new technology heading my way this year. We'll have a classroom set of iPads for my grade level partner & I to share, and we're going to put them to good use with all this writing!
I'd love to hear some feedback on what you think about our plan for next year. Has anyone out there tried this, and how'd it go. Also, are there any other classes that want to join me in my blogging adventure?