Content-Area Literacy

Composing Science (NWP Radio)

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Guests: Kim Jaxon and Leslie Atkins Elliott

Summary: In this engaging NWP Radio Show, Kim Jaxon and Leslie Atkins Elliott, authors of Composing Science: A Facilitator’s Guide to Writing in the Science Classroom, talk about teaching writing, teaching science, and creating classrooms in which students use writing to learn and think scientifically. In a lively conversation, Kim, a composition and literacy specialist, and Leslie, a science teacher educator with a Ph.D in physics, talk about concrete approaches for engaging students in practices that mirror the work that writing accomplishes in the development and dissemination of scientific ideas. Together they address a range of genres that can help students deepen their scientific reasoning and inquiry in this excellent resource for teachers engaged in inquiry into disciplinary literacy.
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College-Ready Writers Program Lesson Study (NWP Radio)

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Summary: Guests on this radio program were part of NWP’s College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) who participated in an online version of a lesson study focused on two mini-units. Guests talk about how the structure of the lesson study has impacted their practice, their experience with teaching the mini-units in their classrooms, and their experience with participating in the online community. Site leadership teams may develop a similar online lesson study using lessons learned by these educators about digital interaction in professional inquiry groups. This resource may be useful for sites who want to engage in continuity across rural areas, or teachers want to try the argumentative writing modules and compare processes and outcomes with other educators.
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Digital Storytelling for Language and Culture Learning

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Author: Judith Rance-Roney

Summary: Interested in introducing digital storytelling in a writing classroom? Rance-Roney, a teacher with the Hudson Valley Writing Project, explains digital storytelling, discusses its strengths in promoting literacy, and, by documenting her own multilingual classroom work, suggests a path for getting started with this technology.
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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.
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CRWP Mini-Units

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Summary: This resource from the College-Ready Writers Program features one-minute videos that define mini-units and explain the value of using nonfiction sources/texts. There are links to related pages on the CRWP website that focus on creating text sets and on developing and sequencing mini-units. These resources will take facilitators and teachers through both the content and implementation of researched argumentative modules, with space to supplement or customize. Teachers can write in response to some of the units to see how they might work with students.
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Online Event Supports Debate about Content Area Literacy

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Summary: Twenty-five participants from 15 sites met online to discuss provocative issues related to the recruitment and retention of content area teachers at writing project sites. The group shared thoughts about and experiences with content area literacy and the expansion of sites to include content area literacy teachers into the development of a site.
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Teaching Reading: A Semester of Inquiry

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Author: Antero Garcia

Summary: Interested in establishing a writing center at your institution? This resource describes all aspects of running a writing center and reviews the many issues to be considered by anyone seeking to establish one, from developing program goals to funding to staffing and staff training. Useful as the focus for a study group, advanced institute or program development meeting, this resource can serve to focus an inquiry into how teachers might take the idea of a writing center back to their schools.
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CRWP: Formative Assessment

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Summary: This resource from NWP’s College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) features two strategies that teachers can use to assess students’ source-based arguments. The “Using Sources Tool” focuses on the quality of students’ claims and how well they use evidence to support them. The “Claim, Evidence, Reasoning Protocol” can help students and teachers see how well they have developed source-based arguments. This page also includes student writing that has been annotated through the lens of the “Using Sources Tool” to illustrate how teachers can use the tool in their classrooms. These assessment strategies can be useful for teachers in any content area who are looking for effective ways to analyze students’ evidence-based arguments. Teacher study groups can examine and apply these two tools and discuss their impact.
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“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.
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Writing Across the Hidden Curriculum

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Author: William Strong

Summary: Pushing back against the “hidden curriculum” of school writing as teacher-centered and reductive, Strong asserts a model of student-centered writing to learn. This article explains the importance of writing across disciplines and gives practical examples of authentic content area writing skills. His 12-point description of “The Hidden Curriculum of Writing” can serve as a powerful conversation starter with any group of teachers.
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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.
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The Evolution of a Model Writing Teacher and a Model Writing School

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: How does a Writing Project teacher become a leader? This brief portrait describes how award-winning elementary teacher Julie Johnson evolved into an exemplary teacher of writing and collaborated with colleagues to develop a model writing school. This resource can fulfill multiple needs for site leaders and leaders of advanced institutes or teacher inquiry groups if they are looking for examples of effective early-grade writing classrooms, evidence of content-based writing in elementary grades, or schoolwide efforts to find effective approaches to writing.
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Overview of the NWP’s College Ready Writers Program

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Summary: This overview provides key information about the National Writing Project’s College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) and how it works, along with the results from multiple years/areas of the country. In “About the Program,” teachers can find resources that complement each other in a year-round approach to teaching argument: routine argument writing, mini-units, extended research arguments, on-demand tasks, formative assessment resources, and videos of teachers who have used the resources. The “How it Works” sub-link offers a model for an Advanced Institute for CRWP. The last sub-link provides the results of a 2-year random assignment evaluation which found CRWP had a positive, statistically significant effect on the four attributes of student argument writing—content, structure, stance, and conventions. Points of use include: site leadership team review of CRWP to see how it might be used in their region/locale; and teacher leadership or teacher inquiry related to bringing CRWP into their writing instruction.
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Students Write Tabloid Tabulations in a Math Gossip Magazine

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Author: Joe Bellacero and Tom Murray

Summary: If you are looking for an example of work that integrates mathematics and writing, this one is creative and supported through research related to math. This is a teacher and teacher-consultant’s account of a “writing and math” strategy used in the middle school classroom. Students are asked to connect writing, math, and real-world problems. You may find “nuggets” that appeal to you as a teacher and/or facilitator.
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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!
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Working at the Intersections of Formal and Informal Science and Literacy Education

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Author: Tanya Baker and Becky Carroll

Summary: This resource describes the multi-faceted work of the NWP (and partners) Intersections Project which supported local partnerships to design programming and innovative projects that connected science and literacy learning. The authors present two cases and their benefits to participants: one focuses on enhancing museum/science field trips and the other describes a STEAM partnership project (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Mathematics) between a writing project and a local science/engineering “discovery” center. Video, art, and student reactions are embedded. This resource could provide schools and teachers with ideas about partnerships with area museums or science centers, as well as literacy integration for science or STEM learning.
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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.
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Green(ing) English: Voices Howling in the Wilderness?

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Author: Heather Bruce

Summary: Noting that “in literature and language arts classes at the secondary level, where we do not hesitate to study the impact of ethical mores in human lives, where we do not hesitate to teach respect for life, we have fairly well ignored our impact on the natural world or our relationships with it,” In this article, Heather Bruce argues for teachers to engage students in considering a range of difficult issues related to climate, environment, and the future of humanity. A useful resource for launching a content-area study that brings current environmental questions into the reading and writing curriculum.
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What Is Reading? An Excerpt from Reading for Understanding

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Author: Christine Cziko, Cynthia Greenleaf, Lori Hurwitz, and Ruth Schoenbach

Summary: Reading is a complex process that involves much more than the ability to decode. This short article offers a foundational way to conceptualize what readers need to do as they develop in proficiency for reading different kinds of texts for different purposes in various situations. This is an important introduction to an book that offers an instructive framework for “apprenticing” adolescent readers. The article would be interesting to read and discuss in light of conflicting contemporary reading policies and beliefs.
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Reimagining Learning in Libraries and Museums (NWP Radio)

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Summary: Imagine out-of-school learning spaces where museum and library educators create digital access for youth. The discussion focuses on students as makers rather than as consumers. Organizational partners discuss ways in which YOUmedia Network has impacted educators’ commitments to teen learning.
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Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing

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Summary: Developed collaboratively among representatives from the Council of Writing Program Administrators, the National Council of Teachers of English, and the National Writing Project, Framework for Success in Postsecondary Writing describes the rhetorical and twenty-first-century skills that are critical for college success based on current research in writing and writing pedagogy. This short introduction includes a list of the habits of mind identified as essential for success in college writing and includes a link to the complete Framework which is of particular interest to study groups and teacher leaders planning and facilitating professional development in the teaching of writing.
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Improving Assignments With the Writing Assignment Framework

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Author: National Writing Project and Mary Ann Smith

Summary: Featuring a range of protocols, tools, and student samples, the Writing Assignment Framework and Overview was designed as a resource for use in planning instruction and professional development. Growing out of work NWP did with the Authentic Intellectual Work framework, these tools aim to support teachers in all disciplines to think critically about the effectiveness of their assignments in supporting intellectual work that “is similar to the type of problem solving that adults face in their everyday lives and helps prepare students to be critical, analytical thinkers.” At page 10 in the document, teachers share designs for professional development sessions using the tools and forms.
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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.
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How Language Minority Students Can Learn in the Content Areas: An Alternative to Silence

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Author: Beth Winningham

Summary: A teacher researcher who studied the experiences of five minority students over the course of a school year offers concrete suggestions for improving the learning experience of middle/high school students in general, and ELL students in particular. This article could be examined as a model of teacher inquiry and student advocacy.
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Why I Write: Scientist Arvind Gupta Plays with the Words of Science

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Author: Arvind Gupta

Summary: In this short inspiring piece, Gupta explains critical moments he has been motivated to write, including chances to explain scientific phenomena. He urges readers to appreciate the human mind and the joy of experimentation. This piece could be used as a model “why I write” piece and/or to start a discussion of content area writers/writing. There is a link out to a great TED Talk.
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CRWP: Extended Research Arguments

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Summary: This resource from NWP’s College-Ready Writers Program (CRWP) includes actual assignments, student work, and interviews with teachers about one student’s process. The “Extended Research Argument” video is a good introduction to the resource, inviting you to explore the ideas behind extended argument and demonstrating how to use the “Inside the Life of Piece of Writing” website in both high school and middle school. For teacher study groups or professional development experiences centered on extended research argument, this resource provides authentic examples of teacher process and student writing.
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Building Culturally Responsive Units of Study: From Texas to Mexico and Back

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Author: Katie McKay

Summary: By crafting units of study that cast immigration as part of the American historical process, a teacher-consultant at the Heart of Texas Writing Project creates opportunities for her bilingual fourth-graders to explore immigration in a trusting and productive classroom environment. This article can support discussions about how to connect curriculum to students’ own knowledge, how to explore sensitive topics with younger children, or how to use writing to support students’ understanding of history or current events.
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Thinking Across Civic Education Work

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Guests: Erica Hodgin, Nicole Mirra, Perry Bellow-Handleman, Eddie Lopez, John Rogers

Summary: In this conversation, fourth in a series, two secondary history teachers and educational researchers discuss what happens when students are civically engaged in social justice and advocacy. The teachers share fundamental teaching challenges and opportunities that a curriculum that engages with participatory politics offers them and their students in this digital age. The introduction ends and the conversation begins 10 minutes 35 seconds into the webinar. For the full webinar or podcast and related resources, visit Thinking Across Civic Education Work.
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Incorporating Multigenre Writing in the Social Studies Classroom

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Author: Kari Scheidel

Summary: Noting the gap between the level of sophistication of her students’ writing in writing workshop and in social studies, teacher Kari Scheidel reflected upon her teaching practice asking “How do I use writing effectively in social studies?” and “How do I find time for it?” In this article she shares how she developed inspiring ideas for having students practice multi-genre writing to learn in social studies. In the process, she also shares samples of student writing in American History and suggests how students’ individual and collaboratively authored pieces inspire their creative engagement at the same time that they build their subject area knowledge.
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Math Blogs: Fostering Voice, Ownership, and Understanding Online

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Author: Howard Rheingold

Summary: This article describes how a mathematics teachers became a connected educator, and how he and his precalculus students in Winnipeg began blogging. Students took turns with daily scribing — reflecting, summarizing, and connecting with each other locally and, serendipitously, with others beyond their school, e.g., a 5th grader in Georgia. Other forms of social media provided opportunities for their teacher to share student strategies and resources through live tweets with teachers and other students across the globe. This practical piece provides inspiration and wisdom for educators seeking ideas to jump start and support digital learning in mathematics.
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Multiple Texts: Multiple Opportunities for Teaching and Learning

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Author: Laura Robb

Summary: Offering a vivid glimpse into her middle school classroom, author Laura Robb illustrates how making available a range of texts at different reading levels and from a variety of perspectives on a subject promotes the engagement and success of all students in her heterogeneously grouped classroom. Noting that multiple texts help all students engage as active members of a literate community of readers, Robb also shares a list of sources for locating a range of nonfiction texts along with a variety of effective teaching strategies. Sharing both theory and practice, this article could be easily the basis for a single workshop session or a series of workshops demonstrating strategies for strengthening students’ content-area literacy skills.

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Integrating Science and Language Arts in First Grade Using a Culturally Relevant Lens

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Author: Mike Rose

Summary: Rose offers an in-depth portrait of a writing project teacher integrating the study of science and language arts in her first-grade Baltimore classroom, all while advancing and honoring the cultural knowledge and understanding of her thirty African American students. This chapter, from Rose’s Possible Lives, not only highlights curriculum development, but also offers a model for integrating student dialogue and student work while writing about classroom learning.
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Disciplinary Literacy and Reading Across the Content Areas

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: A valuable resource for professional development planners and facilitators and content area classroom teachers, this article poses the questions: What does it mean to be a successful reader and writer in English class, in science, in history, in mathematics? With those in mind, Elizabeth Birr Moje argues that focusing on disciplinary literacy will help us understand the thinking and learning demands students face as they move through different content area classes that make up a typical high school day. Noting that since each discipline has its own literacy, the author argues for stripping away the one-size-fits-all literacy “strategies” and engaging students in the way historians and scientists and others actually read and write in their disciplines.
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Cultural Landscapes for Literacies Learning: An Innovative Art Museum and Teacher-Research Community Partnership

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Author: Ralph Cordova and Michael Murawski

Summary: Documenting the cross-disciplinary literacy activities supported by a partnership between teacher-researchers and a local art museum, this excellent resource offers both activities and practical strategies for taking writing about art into the classroom using resources from local art galleries and online virtual art museums.
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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.
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Why I Write: Scientist Timothy Ferris on Writing to Learn

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Author: Timothy Ferris

Summary: Ferris explains that he writes as a way to learn science and describes the vital role that science has played in changing the world for the better. He discusses how writing for general audiences can help scientists to “clarify their own thinking, by obliging them to put specialized ideas into wider contexts and to express them simply.” This short piece could be motivating for science students and teachers to read aloud and discuss before prompting them to write their own ‘why I write’ narratives.
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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.
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Non-Fiction Writing in the Science Classroom

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Author: Nancy Lilly

Summary: Fourth grade science teacher, Nancy Lilly, describes how she helps her students recognize that the skills that elevate fiction are the very skills that can be useful in writing strong nonfiction, including writing about science. Sharing a writing session with one of her students, Lilly describes her process when working with students to improve writing using mentor texts and other examples. This glimpse into classroom practice could be a useful resource for a content-area study group thinking about teaching writing in science.
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Why Science Teachers Should Write

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Author: Marsha Ratzel

Summary: One science teacher explains the importance of students writing to learn in science and science teachers writing to clarify their teaching. Although it is short, it gives examples of student work and is a powerful piece to share with science teachers.
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Scientific Writing and Technological Change

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Author: Mya Poe and Julianne Radkowski Opperman

Summary: Looking for specific ways to incorporate technology into teaching while leading students through the scientific research process? Noting that writing in science “is a dynamic process that changes quickly with technological change,” this chapter explores specific examples from both high school and college settings that invite students’ dynamic engagement as writers through proposal writing, literature reviews, storying research findings, and peer review. This resource will be of interest to both classroom teachers and those involved in designing professional development programs or seeking ideas for teacher inquiry.
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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.
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Aims and Criteria for Collaboration in Content-Area Classrooms

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Author: Roni Jo Draper, Paul Broomhead, Amy Petersen Jensen, and Daniel Siebert

Summary: If you are looking for a book chapter that will help you think through content area reading and writing beyond taking tests and basic writing, read this. Facilitators planning and/or framing the thinking of a group that includes content and literacy specialists will appreciate how the authors propose powerful common “aims” for adolescents’ content area learning and offer specific examples to illustrate their thinking.
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Expressive Writing in the Science Classroom

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Author: John Dorroh

Summary: In this account of expressive writing in the science classroom, teacher John Dorroh introduces writing to build students’ curiosity, inviting them to wonder, to ask questions, and to imagine. In the process Dorroh wrestles with the issue of assessment and also demonstrates the importance of teacher-as-writer as he writes along with his students.
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Our Grandparents’ Civil Rights Era: Family Letters Bring History to Life

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Author: Willow McCormick

Summary: What happens when teachers asks elementary students to conduct research about relatively recent history? In this article, a writing project teacher offers a wonderful model for integrating authentic writing and social studies instruction. By exchanging letters with grandparents, her students build a deeper, personal connection to history while deepening their understanding of the Civil Rights era.
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What Is Connected Learning?

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Summary: This webpage offers a perfect introduction and framework to explain how principles of connected learning can inform environments and practices that engage adolescents. This resource is a springboard for discussion of additional related materials that offer illustrations of teaching with connected learning principles in mind.
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Book Review: English Learners, Academic Literacy, and Thinking: Learning in the Challenge Zone

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Author: Debra Schneider

Summary: How can we best support English language learners in classrooms where rigorous curricula focuses on intellectual practices across content areas? How can we engage in practices that enable students to construct rather than reproduce knowledge, develop deep understanding of disciplinary knowledge and forge connections between school and the outside world? In this book review, Debra Schneider shares insights and successful strategies emerging from her own practice and study group related to the chapter on Academic Literacy [see PDF], suggesting that teaching content “”deeply”” enables teaching standards in authentic ways. An excellent resource for study groups, inquiry groups, or those leading professional development.
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Introducing Girls of Color to Science

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Author: ASU News

Frame: Girls Writing Science, a program of the Central Arizona Writing Project that is funded by an NWP/NSF Intersections grant, aims to improve participants’ science writing and encourages them to consider professions in a science-related field.
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Literacy, ELL, and Digital Story Telling: 21st Century Skills in Action

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Author: Yumi Matui and Clifford Lee

Summary: This video documents how high school history students created digital stories as part of the American Immigration Project. The semester-long multimodal project incorporated interviews, transcription. discussion, writing voiceover scripts, and digital production. Composing images and audio to create powerful presentations, students shared their stories at a final Exhibition Night screening. Teachers interested in project-based learning will find inspiration as well as practical strategies in the related resources.
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Literacy in the Digital Age: Nine Great Speaking and Listening Tools

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Author: Natalie Franzi and Steve Figurelli

Summary: This blog post showcases nine different digital tools and links to related resources useful in engaging students and/or teachers in sharing stories or other work through a variety of media and to a variety of audiences. Thoughtful use of digital tools enables both students and teachers to be “active creators of content.” This entire could be used in professional development on digital learning.
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Book Review: Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry into the Value of Work

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Author: Britton Gildersleeve

Summary: In the ever increasing focus on college-readiness, we lose sight of connected learning, career-readiness and the joys inherent in making. This book review, which includes a video excerpt of the author’s talk, suggests that reading “Shop Class as Soulcraft” will provoke important discussion about out of school literacies, what counts as learning and the ways in which skilled, hands-on making requires critical thinking.
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Disciplinary Literacy: Why It Matters and What We Should Do About It

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Author: Elizabeth Birr Moje

Summary: Why should we help students learn how to read, write, and speak in different disciplines (e.g., science and social studies)? Watch this keynote address to meet Elizabeth Birr Moje who believes that when students learn the literacy particular to each discipline, they gain access to advanced learning opportunities. Moje positions disciplinary literacy as an equity issue and offers rich questions that could serve as writing prompts and lead to challenging, substantive discussions.
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A “Connected-Learning” Style and Fashion Program for Adolescents Leads to Career Opportunity

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Author: Kiley Larson, Erin Bradley, Tonya Leslie, Bryan Rosenberg, and Nathan Reimer

Summary: This case study features two Hive Fashion hubs, in Chicago and New York, in a youth program for adolescents interested in fashion as a career field. The program design is built on the recognition that young people need relevant personal relationships and career-relevant opportunities for their learning to make a difference in the real world. The youth viewed their work through the lens of social justice by incorporating social, political, economic, and cultural perspectives into their projects. From ideas to production, teen designers leveraged digital technologies to write posts on social media and to produce their creations. Useful to gain ideas for similar youth programs and to develop ideas related to connected learning, out-of-school literacies, and career education, this resource takes readers to the hubs with photos, detailed descriptions, and a video.
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What’s Next: Possibilities for Literacy and Content Area Learning (NWP Radio)

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Summary: This NWP Radio show captures the conversation among planners, presenters and participants in the 2010 National Reading Initiative Conference in New Orleans. The conference grew out of and captures the learning from a series of inquiries that several NWP sites engaged in to understand the work they were doing with professional development related to reading. Of particular interest to teacher leaders looking at the reading/writing connection and disciplinary literacy, the conference examined the intersections of threads of work related to adolescent literacy and content area learning by addressing the following questions:

  • What is a text and what should we know about reading and writing texts in different disciplines?
  • What does strong interdisciplinary work look like?
  • What is the role of inquiry in content area learning?
  • What is discipline-specific in reading and writing?
  • What role do digital literacies play in content area learning?
  • How can writing project sites and schools organize to work toward deeper understanding and new practices?


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A Snapshot of Writing Instruction in Middle Schools and High Schools

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Author: Arthur N. Applebee and Judith A. Langer

Summary: This 2011 article describes research which updates earlier work and which addresses the following questions: How much writing do students do? Who reads what students write? What is the effect of high-stakes tests on writing instruction? What kinds of writing instruction do teachers emphasize? How has technology influenced the teaching of writing? From writing tasks and genres to standards-based writing and writing in the disciplines, the authors present readers with reminders that writing can contribute to learning and deepen understanding. Teachers and teacher groups may use this article to spur discussion of ways to go beyond test-focused writing assignments by offering students the chance to develop writings based on their reflections, interests, and contemporary connections to learning.
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The Diversity of Writing

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Author: Charles Bazerman

Summary: In this article, Bazerman writes of the various things writers do with words, describing how writers enter a complex and deepening engagement with a “symbolic environment” that coincides with the culture’s social, economic, and civic possibilities. He describes the many purposes, forms, and impacts of writing, and discusses how real-life reading/writing connections can frame how we design reading and writing for students. From legislators to journalists to technical writers in various contexts, this resource can be used as a study text that undergirds teacher inquiry into disciplinary literacy and varied forms and genres of writing.
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Publishing Students’ True Stories

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Author: Rus VanWestervelt

Summary: Creative nonfiction? What better way to engage students in all disciplines than to write real stories about life events that matter to them! And what if there were opportunities to publish these pieces in a journal designed and edited by youth? In telling the story of the creation of a journal that eventually encompassed the state, the author provides a resource list of models of creative nonfiction as well as an example of one student’s narrative that focused on her family’s evacuation from the American compound in Saudi Arabia following terrorist bombings. Even without a goal of publishing a journal, there are excellent suggestions that could be used for creating and supporting collaborative writing spaces (e.g., in classrooms, student writing clubs, supporting Scholastic Awards).
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Teaching in the Connected Learning Classroom

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Author: Antero Garcia, Christina Cantrill, Danielle Filipiak, Bud Hunt, Clifford Lee, Nicole Mirra, Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, and Kylie Peppler

Summary: This collection of compelling firsthand vignettes written by NWP educators illustrate “connected learning principles” and depict teachers designing opportunities for all students to have access to, participate in, and thrive within the ever-shifting demands of the twenty-first century. This resource will be exciting for teachers looking for inspiring curriculum design that is based in solid research and theory about teaching and learning while engaging the affordances of new media and networked technologies. For further reading, visit Educator Innovator.
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Creating a Pedagogy of Facilitation: Ideas From the Philadelphia Writing Project

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Authors: Christina Puntel and Carol Rose

Summary: Created by Philadelphia Writing Project teacher-consultants, this guide and related resources invite emergent leaders to consider how they might plan, lead, and facilitate specific professional development series. Included are facilitation scenarios (e.g., planning a PD series on Writing Workshop and Conferencing or Writing Across the Curriculum) and protocols designed to provoke discussion. There could be additional questions to consider, for example, what kinds of “writing experiences” would you design into the series? What sorts of “readings” would have participants engage with?
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