By Teachers, For Teachers
English or Language Arts classes are often designed to directly focus on writing skills. From arguments to analyses, letters to narratives, English teachers properly take their due time to introduce the wide range of writing skills to students. It is incredibly important that students can articulate themselves in a multitude of ways. Unfortunately, much of the responsibility for writing instruction falls onto the English teachers’ shoulders and is not underscored in other courses. While English teachers should take the leadership role in writing instruction, students can best develop these essential articulation skills when they have the chance to apply them across the curriculum.
So here are 50 ways teachers of subjects other than English can regularly incorporate different types of writing into their classrooms.
1. Find a pen pal in another country and exchange letters (or emails, blogs, etc.).
2. Translate a passage from one language into English (or from English into another language).
3. Summarize the events in a foreign film or television show.
4. Retell a classic story or fairy tale in a different language.
5. Freewrite on a random, engaging topic for a few minutes each day – in another language.
6. Complete fill-in-the-blank comics where empty word bubbles are completed in target language.
7. Create a business plan proposal.
8. Perform and record research on a specific company or businessman.
9. Create comparisons between products, such as cars, homes or credit cards.
10. Compose a presentation on a business, product or advertisement.
11. Make a personal financial plan complete with goals and objectives.
12. Describe their personal versions of their American dream.
13. Research and write about a famous historical mathematician.
14. Record applications of different kinds of mathematics in real-world fields.
15. Describe the logic and steps taken to solve a particular math problem.
16. Create original word problems.
17. Write about a real-life personal application of a mathematical concept.
18. Keep a self-reflective journal of how well you do on certain math concepts.
19. Conduct a lab experiment and compose a writeup on the results.
20. List original questions and hypotheses derived from natural observations.
21. Research a scientist and his/her contributions.
22. Summarize articles from the newspaper, magazines or online reports about scientific news and events.
23. Record applications of science, technology, or scientific concepts in real life.
24. Keep an online blog or forum open for multiple individuals to share questions, comments, and information about their science-related thoughts.
25. Record notes and ideas given by instructor via lecture, etc.
26. Write an essay based off of primary and secondary source documents.
27. Compose historical fiction stories designed to demonstrate understanding of a given era.
28. Write a first-person speech or presentation from the point of view of a historic person.
29. Make connections between elements present in today’s society and their origins from the past.
30. Create a map, graphic, or storyboard that summarizes the same concept from multiple historical eras.
31. Rewrite history and explain how the world would be today had one event gone differently.
32. Provide a report of a historic composer’s life and contributions.
33. Write lyrics to your own original song.
34. Compose your own original music to fit a certain theme or mood.
35. Produce your own film, complete with an original script and soundtrack.
36. Give a unique “user’s guide” explaining how to play a particular instrument or song.
37. Write about the different types of music used for different ads, films, shows or entertainment.
38. Create a fictional story of how a certain work of art “came to be.”
39. Research the real story behind how a certain work of art “came to be.”
40. Compose a poem that emotionally responds to experiencing a work of art.
41. Provide a report of a historic artist’s life, contributions, and style.
42. Write an “aesthetic” where you describe what art is and means to you.
43. Pretend to be curator of an art gallery and write an argument for or against allowing a certain work into the gallery.
44. Look at a painting and write a rich, deep, thorough description of every single detail inside of the painting.
45. Summarize and reflect on articles and news stories about athletics, fitness, etc.
46. Pretend to be commentator of the Olympics and write your own introductions to athletes and events.
47. Analyze your own diet for a week, recording and reflecting on every meal and snack.
48. Write an ideal exercise plan that would help you achieve your fitness goals.
49. Learn and record the rules, from basic to advanced, of any selected sport.
50. Write an argument on why gym class should or should not be a required class.
Each teacher doesn’t have to teach writing in a new and unique way. In fact, student writing skills can be best developed when multiple teachers are holding students to the same standards of articulation, even using the same rubrics to assess students’ ideas and clarity. While the English teachers might lead the charge, other instructors should come alongside them to help push students towards higher and higher standards of written expression. Then students will see how powerful they can become when they are able to effectively articulate their ideas to others on any subject.
Let’s not stop at 50 ideas. Contribute your own! What others ideas do you have for incorporating writing across the curriculum?
Jordan Catapano is an English teacher at Conant High School in a Chicago suburb. In addition to being National Board Certificated, he also sits as the District Leader for the Illinois Association of Teachers of English and serves as a school board member for a private school. You can follow him on Twitter at @BuffEnglish, or visit his website ACTWritingTips.com.