Writing and Social Studies

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Writing and Social Studies. “Good writing causes writers to think” (W/P 6) Thinking leads to learning. How can I promote good writing?. To Begin…. I came into this class thinking that teaching writing in Social Studies was a matter of just “doing it the way I did” when I was in school.
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Writing and Social Studies “Good writing causes writers to think” (W/P 6) Thinking leads to learning. How can I promote good writing? To Begin…
  • I came into this class thinking that teaching writing in Social Studies was a matter of just “doing it the way I did” when I was in school.
  • The way I did it was write, get it wrong, fix it, and never know why it should “be that way.”
  • In the article “Demystifying Reflection” there is a quote that says, “I think you’ve got to reflect. If you don’t reflect, you’ll never improve” (1407)…
  • Who Cares About Reflection?
  • I didn’t before but I do now; this skill was developed over the dozens if not hundreds of papers I’ve written in college.
  • I never read my writing before I handed it in. I wrote one draft and that was all I cared about. Having to do more than one draft was annoying.
  • Today I can say that I never send an email, send a message, or write a paper without reading it over and reflecting on what I wrote. I can bring this skill into the classroom, but how?
  • Teaching Reflection
  • “Reflective thinking begins with a state of doubt, hesitation, or perplexity and moves through the act of searching to find material that will resolve, clarify, or otherwise address the doubt” (“DR” 1394).
  • In other words, as a Social Studies teacher I assign high stakes writing such as DBQ Essays, Thematic Essays, and Topical Essays. I tell students to provide information from their knowledge of history or from the content.
  • I have learned to tell students to reflect on their papers. Find the doubt. “If you were to be writing this to little old lady in Florida, would she understand your argument and what you’re trying to say?”
  • Search for the doubt and find/remedy what is needed (content, grammar, theme) to resolve the doubt in the paper.
  • What about non high stakes writing? What about projects?
  • “If you fail when you’re passionate, you’ll suffer terribly” (W/P 25).
  • A HUGE part of teaching that I have learned during my teaching career is how passionate students are about specific topics.
  • For instance, I am passionate about local history and that passion was conveyed in my Multi-Genre.
  • Students are not given the opportunity to express their passions in class like in college papers and projects. How can I remedy this?
  • “Classroom community is essential” (TNW 131).
  • I can evoke passion in students through the writing community. “In my experience, passion in students has usually led to strong positions, critical thinking, further analysis, and stirring, often eloquent language” (W/P 25).
  • Speeches, group activities, sharing of work, and discussions help the students feel a sense of community and thus make them more comfortable to share their passions.
  • If these passions can be adapted to the curriculum there is a teachable moment presented to me. For example, if a student enjoys Japanese anime can I help the student understand the Japanese culture by presenting its history? Yes!
  • The Multi-Genre project is a great way to assess passion, promote passion, aid learning, and to follow the curriculum. But how should such a project be graded?
  • So Many Ways, So Many Possibilities
  • Out of the many means of assessment offered in Inside Out, I find that to promote the writing community students must maintain personal collaboration with their peers.
  • One technique I’m extremely excited to try is Roundtable Grading- “Students read papers, establish criteria, and evaluate” (221).
  • This technique affords: 1) empowerment to the students to develop grading techniques, 2) students the opportunity to see how their classmates write, 3) presents the world of teaching and grading to a student that may aspire to become a teacher and 4) maintains the collaborative community.
  • But What is the Teacher to Do?
  • “Students need to hear your opinions, and they expect you to deliver content knowledge to them. They need your sophisticated and caring responses” (IO 106).
  • In order to give my sophisticated and caring responses I must establish the difference between teaching and facilitating.
  • Through teaching, I am delivering new knowledge, skills, and techniques.
  • Through facilitating, I am allowing students to use the knowledge, skills, and techniques to promote higher level thinking skills on their own.
  • Teaching and Facilitating
  • “As the student writer gains confidence and a sense of personal voice and worries less about getting words on the page, your role changes gradually to that of editor” (IO 107).
  • Confidence, personal voice, and words on the page are partially my job to teach to students- Confidence of the material, opinions of the material through their voice, and the knowledge of the content to write.
  • The editing is the facilitation role I assume; the students will reach higher level thinking skills through their writing and it will be my job to guide that thinking to conclusions.
  • To reach those conclusions, I can teach effective, passionate, and knowledgeable historical based writing content, skills, and techniques.
  • The Future
  • Though technology that reduces the amount of writing needed is rapidly changing in the classroom it is vital as teachers that we insist on upholding the practice of writing for students.
  • Humans will always think. Thinking leads to good writing. Good writing is an exercise in thinking.
  • I will employ the methods offered in this presentation to uphold this cyclical theory of writing.
  • Through these methods my students will gain knowledge and skills of social studies, writing, and thinking that they can use throughout their private and professional lives.
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