cross-disciplinary

Living History: Reading, Writing, and Learning in a National Park (NWP Radio)

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Summary: What happens when an NWP site teams up with a nearby National Park to create a learning experience for young people? Guests on this first of two NWP Radio episodes exploring the partnership between the National Writing Project and National Parks talk about the design and impact of summer youth writing programs for elementary and secondary students inspired by the rich treasures available inside a National Park.
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Bioethics, Informed Consent, and Open Networks: The Story of Bioethics Day

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Author: Jennifer Smyth

Summary: This collection of materials, inspired by a shared reading in English and Biology classes of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, describes the planning and presentation of Bioethics Day as a “day of learning” for students from three high schools. The materials include explanatory videos and planning information, as well as a description of how the project demonstrates connected learning, and a frank discussion of privacy and the pros and cons of open network projects. This resource may be useful in working with teachers across content areas who are interested in creating projects that invite students to share their learning beyond the classroom. 
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Overview of the Common Core State Standards Initiatives for ELLs: A TESOL Issue Brief

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Summary: This issue brief, from the TESOL International Association, is an overview of the Common Core State Standards that also outlines some of the initiatives in place to address the needs of English learners (ELs) in relation to the Standards. Excerpts from this resource may be useful in study groups and professional development sessions focused on the needs of English learners, particularly within the contexts of assessment practices and content-area text complexity.
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Joined at the Hip: The Joys and Travails of Teaching “Linked” Courses

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Author: Matthew Teorey

Summary: This article features one university’s program offering “Freshman Learning Communities” in which two instructors from different disciplines work together developing curriculum by coordinating two sets of complementary readings and assignments. In this cross-disciplinary approach, a community environment helps the students succeed in their freshman year. The resource provides an example of co-teaching and of coordinated literacy integration with specific writing and critical thinking skills across disciplines and has the potential for adaptation to the high school curricula.
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Book Review: Rethinking Rubrics in Writing Assessment

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Author: Meg Petersen

Summary: This review describes the work of high school teacher and author Maja Wilson, whose book examines what assessment without rubrics looks like and where it may take us. The sample chapter, “My Troubles with Rubrics,” advises that instead of reviewing student papers based on prescribed categories, we should engage students as fellow thinkers in our respective fields and have them consider the different ways that others might respond to their work. For teachers who are rethinking rubric use or seeking differentiated or better practices for assessment, this would be a useful book for study.
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The Story of SCORE: The Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute Takes on a Statewide Reading Initiative

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Author: Lynette Herring-Harris and Cassandria Hansbrough

Summary: The SCORE monograph (Secondary Content Opening to Reading Excellence) from the Mississippi Writing/Thinking Institute offers an overview of programming for content area teachers as part of a statewide reading initiative. A useful resource for teacher leaders, the monograph includes a rich description of five days of workshops (p. 14-19) along with timelines (p. 24-25), and agendas (p.26-31) that structured and organized this work.
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Planning for Writing Instruction

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Author: Mark Overmeyer

Summary: In this brief tip from his book, When Writing Workshop Isn’t Working, Mark Overmeyer describes a process of collaborative backward planning that provides a scope and sequence for the year that meets district curriculum requirements, allows for the study of genres connected to various disciplines and units (e.g., research, narrative, memoir, and technical writing), and culminates in a student-generated magazine that draws from strategies learned throughout the year. This would be a useful resource for school-based planning teams as well as for professional development focused on writing workshop and cross-curricular planning and assessment.
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Putting the “Shop” in Reading Workshop: Building Reading Stamina

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Author: Amanda N. Gulla

Summary: How might teachers motivate students who identify as “non-readers” to find purpose in reading? In this article, Amanda Gulla, a teacher consultant with the New York City Writing project, offers a portrait of the ways in which co-teachers orchestrated an independent, reading-workshop model classroom for their urban CTE (career and technical education) students who developed fluency and agency as readers.  Teachers planning and leading professional development, study groups and classroom teachers interested in exploring solutions to the challenges of reading instruction will find inspiration in this easy-to-read ethnographic study.
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Reading, Writing, and Mentor Texts: Imagining Possibilities (NWP Radio)

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Summary: Mentor texts can support writers and inspire writing in all genres in the classroom and beyond. This NWP Radio show is of particular interest to study groups and teacher leaders designing professional development that explores the use of mentor texts to support writing in academic disciplines. Presenters share resources for identifying and using effective mentor texts. Highlights include: a definition of mentor texts (2:00); a discussion of using picture books as mentor texts (14:01); advice about choosing 15-25 texts as anchors for the year (15:50); a discussion of the concept of “deeper writing” (24:40); and using mentor texts as resources for teacher inquiry (36:43). Also included is a discussion of how a broad definition of “text” can enrich a thematic approach to history along with an example of using texts in a history unit on The “Other” in America. Included links contain valuable resources on mentor texts in general and in history in particular.
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Making the Right Connections in High School: Developing Teaching Teams to Integrate the Curriculum

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Author: Carla Gubitz Jankowski

Summary: Integrating high school curricula isn’t easy, but it is worth the effort and produces powerful results for students and teachers. In this resource, a teacher describes her award-winning project to develop teaching teams that designed cross-curricular units in order to foster students’ personal and intellectual connections among ideas and skills. Students created personal family trees in art, held a medical symposium as geneticists, physicians, or therapists, and integrated the study of animals with the creation of fables. The teachers’ professional learning community, which benefited from administrative support and professional development time, can be a model for other schools who want to help students make connections among disciplines.
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