The responsibility for writing instruction shouldn’t all fall on the shoulders of English teachers. Writing can be done, taught, and improved in any subject area! Studies have shown that writing in any content deepens students’ comprehension and confidence in the subject.
Here is a suggested timeline of ideas on how to use writing throughout the year in all different content areas. Take them and make them your own to meet the needs of your students. These suggestions are by no means exhaustive, but hopefully enough to give you somewhere to start.
September - use writing to get to know your students, what do they already know about your subject area, and what do they hope to learn
November - opinion/argumentative writing
Example argumentative topics:
- what is the best way to solve this problem? Why? (math, science, technology)
- choose a side in a debate and explain why it’s better (history, science, art)
- students should (or should not) be allowed to bring their own lunches to school (health)
- choose an amendment to defend (civics)
- what is the best economic system? Why? (economics)
December - check in - Whether your class is a semester class or full year, take this time to check in with them. Remind them of their goals from the beginning of the year and see where they are in reaching them.
January - informative/explanatory writing
Example informative topics:
- describe a newly mastered concept (math, technology, music)
- explain why a theory works (science, math)
- summarize an event and explain the effects it has on today (history, science, technology)
- examine the process to complete a particular type of art (art)
- analyze and determine the validity of a primary/secondary source document from a particular time period (history)
March - narrative writing
Example narrative topics:
- first-person account of an event (history, science, math, technology)
- news article of an important discovery (history, science, math, technology, health, art)
- interview with a famous person in a particular field of study (any)
- letter to a famous person explaining how their life has impacted the world (any)
- Letter to a family member explaining a new concept or purpose of a topic/technique (any)
April - explore writing during poetry month - This one can be fun. Have students read or write poetry that is relevant for the topic you’re teaching, or your content area on the whole.
May - reflection on the year - what went well, what was learned, what is left? Create a prompt in which your students can think about their progress over the course of the year and share those thoughts with you. Ask them to share ideas on how they’d like to spend the rest of the year. Maybe they really liked a project or assignment that they want to do again for a different topic. Or they didn’t quite understand a new concept and need more practice with it. This would be a great time to give students some control on how they spend their time with you.