How to Build Better Engineers: A Practical Approach to the Mechanics of Text

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Author: Ron E. Smelser

Summary: How do engineers write—in what ways, for what audiences, and for what purposes? How do we as teachers support novices in developing an understanding that learning to write clearly to communicate arguments in proposals and presentations may make all the difference in moving an idea to a product that is economically and practically feasibile? This article presents a structure that emulates what engineers encounter in a peer-review proposal process. Those planning and leading workshops grounded in real-world practices for aspiring engineers or other related professions will find useful ideas here.

The Authenticity Spectrum: The Case of a Science Journalism Writing Project

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Author: Angela Kohnen

Summary: Although learning to write like science reporters was initially designed to help students develop scientific literacy, the SciJourn project became much more — a key to high school students’ engagement as learners, researchers, and writers and their teachers’ opportunity to explore “real world” genre-based writing assignments and assessment. This article provides a rich discussion with specific examples for learning to develop assignments and learning experiences that take into account “functional authenticity.” Those designing professional development, grants, summer institutes, or study groups on topics such as disciplinary literacy, genre, or authentic learning/writing will find ample food for thought!

Historical Fiction in English and Social Studies Classrooms: Is It a Natural Marriage?

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Author: KaaVonia Hinton, Yonghee Suh, Lourdes Colón-Brown, and Maria O’Hearn

Summary: What happens when history and ELA teachers form a study group to develop understandings of disciplinary literacy and ways this new knowledge might affect each person’s practice? As members read and reflected together on historical fiction and nonfiction, they found that reading texts from both disciplines helped to more fully contextualize a historical period and promote historical empathy. This piece could generate ideas for forming similar study groups and provide an opportunity for teachers to delve into questions and issues related to disciplinary literacy within a professional development forum.

Content Area Literacy and Learning: Selected Sources for the 21st Century, An Annotated Bibliography

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Author: Judith Rodby

Summary: Those looking for materials related to content area and cross-disciplinary reading may find this annotated bibliography useful. It is organized around three general categories of research and practice: 1) generalized reading strategies; 2) adapting/applying generalized reading strategies to specific content areas (math, science, history); and 3) content area-specific approaches that focus on genres, discourses, and identities implicit in the ways of knowing in subject areas and disciplines.

Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design

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Summary: “Connected learning is realized when a young person is able to pursue a personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults, and is in turn able to link this learning and interest to academic achievement, career success or civic engagement.” This report—which emerged from the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative, of which the National Writing Project is a key member—describes a set of design and learning principles meant to support a new approach to learning and presents the latest findings in the design and implementation of Connected Learning principles in education.

“Why I Write” Resources

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Summary: The “Why I Write” series highlights people who write as professionals across disciplines including science, geology, music, environmental studies and education among others. This collection includes a few short videos that accompany the articles and is especially useful in connecting writing in school to the real world purpose of writing in various disciplines and occupations.

VoiceThread Ties Together Student Voices, Images, and Writing

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Author: Shullamuth Smith

Summary: Writing Project teachers discuss ways in which they have used the website VoiceThread with their students to create online, multimodal presentations that allow for a range of feedback. In addition to enabling students to add voice narratives to their own work, VoiceThread allows teachers and others to record comments to students. The resource includes a video and responses to student work in response to the Day of Tolerance that featured the stories of survivors of Japanese internment camps.

Disciplinary, Content-Area Literacy: An Annotated Bibliography

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Author: Judith Rodby

Summary: Elizabeth Birr Moje offers some of the most provocative viewpoints in content area literacy research today. This annotated bibliography serves as a primer of some of her recent works. It offers an effective starting point for teacher leaders looking for resources to discuss disciplinary literacy across content areas.

On Becoming Change Writers

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Author: Pamela Bodnar and Gail Desler

Summary: For sites interested in creating opportunities to use writing and technology to connect students, teachers and community partners to explore intersections around issues of social injustice and to empower them to take social action, this curated collection of videos, images, and written words of children and their teachers provides a host of powerful stories and resources to inspire and begin to plan. The rich collection of resources demonstrate what it means for learners to have spaces and tools that enable them to use multimodal writing for inquiry and to “find a place in the world,” to connect historical events of social injustice to experiences of today and their own lives and identities.

Writing As a Mode of Thinking

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Author: Danling Fu and Jane Hansen

Summary: What’s missing in writing instruction that focuses on organization, vocabulary and sentence structure? What is the role of thinking in writing, and how can we make thinking visible in writing? This article, which could provide a useful focus for a study group or other professional development session, captures a discussion of writing as a mode of learning and the role that evaluation plays in writing across the disciplines.