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Integrating Writing Into Content Areas

In the elementary classroom, there is only one way to fit it all in, by integrating subject areas. As a fourth-grade teacher writing was integrated into every subject nearly every day, out of pure necessity, but it also lead to a deeper understanding of the content. Even the most reluctant writers can find success when writing in a content area, and their confidence will flow over into general writing too. 

Why Should We Integrate Writing In Content Areas?

First of all, writing is a life skill. It will continue to benefit our students long after they leave our classrooms. Writing is a tool for communicating thought and will never go out of style, although it may change how it is done. 
Writing also aids in understanding. When you write about a subject you increase your depth of knowledge in the same way you would if you have a conversation. Writing helps us to cement vocabulary we have learned and use it in context. 
Writing also ups student engagement and requires them to think critically about their topic. 

The Benefits of Integrating Writing with Content Areas

There are just not enough hours in the day to teach each subject in solitude, but also why would you want to? When we integrate subjects we accomplish more and go deeper. 
Writing can be used to save time and encourage collaboration. Additionally, it can be used to assess students’ learning all while putting them in the position of being an expert. 

Strategies for Integrating Writing with Content Areas

There are many ways to integrate writing, but these are a few of my favorites! Be sure to stick around until the end for a freebie that you and your students are sure to love!

Silent Conversations-

  • Students form partners
  • Each student has their own piece of paper and writing utensil
  • A topic is given
  • Think time is given
  • Students start by writing a question or comment on the topic
  • Students trade papers with their partners
  • Partners respond to one another
  • Continue this process until time is out

Quick Writes-

  • A topic is given
  • Think time is given
  • A timer is set
  • Students write everything they know about the topic
  • Students share their writing
I love to support my students during quick writes by providing them with either a photo as stimuli or content vocabulary for them to use, sometimes both. You can check out resources for photo and vocabulary quick writes here. 

Sticky Note Summaries

Check out these five strategies for integrating writing into any content area. The 2nd one has been the most powerful in my classroom. #integratedwriting #elementarywriting #writing For this strategy, you will need three different sized sticky notes.
  1. Index card sized sticky notes
  2. Regular sized sticky notes
  3. Small page marker sized sticky notes
This strategy is especially great for reviewing content ahead of an assessment, but can also be used to check prior knowledge. 
  • Each student is given one sticky note of each size
  • Topic is given
  • Think time is given
  • Starting with the largest sticky note students write down everything they know about the topic
  • Students share what they wrote
  • Moving to the regular sized sticky note students write as much as they can fit, in normal sized handwriting,  about the topic again
  • Students share what they wrote
  • Finally, students write their best summary of the topic on the smallest sticky note being sure to include all important information
  • Students share their summaries

Draw and Label

Drawing and labeling should absolutely be considered writing and serves a definite purpose in content areas. 
  • Topic is given
  • Think time is given
  • Each student draws a representation of the topic
  • Students label their drawing using content language and vocabulary
  • Students share

Point of View Writing

  • Topic is given
  • Students write a narrative from the point of view of the topic e.g. a piece of sediment, a person on the Oregon Trail…
I love to have my students complete dice simulations that inspire their writing. You can check out dice simulation resources here. 

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Rizwan Ahmed
Rizwan Ahmed
AuditStudent.com, founded by Rizwan Ahmed, is an educational platform dedicated to empowering students and professionals in the all fields of life. Discover comprehensive resources and expert guidance to excel in the dynamic education industry.


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