Who Owns the Writing Instruction?

Who Owns the Writing Instruction?

Actually, what does the Common Core say about who teaches writing?

For this assignment, examine various artifacts related to writing instruction and participate in a Discussion Forum.

At the end of this task, you will understand:

1.      All subject areas need to teach writing.

2.      ELA faculty has specific knowledge, skills, and responsibility for composition instruction.

3.      Each discipline has its own writing conventions.


Read and consider the resources below. Use the focus questions to guide your thinking about the resources. Jot down your bulleted thoughts in response to the focus questions.

1.      Look at the Common Core State Standards. Examine the Common Core State Standards for ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS for Writing (pp. 41 – 47) and Language (pp. 51 – 56.) Then examine the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (pp. 63 – 66). View the documents side-by-side to compare.

Focus Question – What are the similarities in both sets of Standards? What do the ELA Standards contain that is different that the Standards for History/Social Studies, Science and Technical Subjects? What are the implications for writing instruction in the different subject areas?

2.      Examine the Vallenti syllabus and table of contents in the Hacker and Summers (2016) textbook (pp. 2 – 3) for a typical course in freshmen composition. On the Amazon page, scroll down to read the author bios. Note - you do not need to purchase this text. 

Focus Question – What is the content of this course? How is composition an academic discipline unto itself?

3.      Look at the Next Generation Science Standards and the C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards. Notice the crosswalks between the CCSS Writing Standards.

Focus Question - What is the role of writing instruction in these Standards? What are these Standards asking of Science and Social Studies Teachers?

4.      In your school, find and read the same-grade curricula for ELA, Social Science/History, and Science.

Focus Question – Are there similarities in the content of the different curricula? If so, what are they? What would you say is the main difference?

Discussion Forum: Considering Composition

At the end of this task, you will understand:

1. There are differences between the writing instruction curriculum for ELA teachers and subject-area teachers.

2. ELA teachers are required to provide instruction in composition - writing as the subject area in itself.

3. Subject-area teachers are required to provide instruction in the kind of writing particular to their discipline.

4. Content area teachers are not required to teach composition.

Consider the following:

How would you define the writing instruction required of an ELA teacher? How would you describe the writing instruction required of a content area teacher? What is the difference?

In two to three well-developed paragraphs using a collegial tone and any necessary education terminology, explain your thinking regarding writing instruction. Please cite the references from your reading in your response. Please post by ____________.

Read over your colleagues’ posts and respond authentically to at least two of your peers. Your response should be at least one paragraph (written in a collegial tone) and related to your colleague’s post. Use any necessary educational terminology. Include questions and/or comments expressing your interest/questions/viewpoint, etc. to raise the level of the conversation and add to the groups’ thinking. Please post your response by ____.



Learning the Role of the School Librarian; Researching Writing Samples

At the end of this task, you will understand the following:

1. Each discipline has its own particular writing conventions and textual characteristics.

2. Subject-area teachers need to know these particular discipline-related conventions in order to include them as part of their writing instruction.

3. Because of their understanding of resources and texts, librarians can improve subject-area writing instruction by raising awareness of discipline-related conventions and providing instructional resources.


ELA teachers have writing as part of their content. Other disciplines have their subject area content, some of which involves writing. Historians write differently than scientists who write differently from mathematicians. Each discipline has its own particular conventions and stylistic markers useful for communicating its content.

So what makes a historian’s writing different from a biologist’s? From a mathematicians? From an economists? And how can the school librarian support historians to teach writing like a historian?

For this assignment, your will begin to understand librarians as a resource and partner for content area teachers’ writing instruction. Read several discipline-related texts to understand the different styles and conventions for different subject areas. Your faculty will assign a subject area. Consider what you can do for and with writing across the disciplines in your school.

1.      Read the AASL brief on the Role of School Librarians in Implementing the Common Core. Informally summarize your understanding of your role in supporting writing instruction for content area faculty. Use this summary as a resource for your work on this assignment. (Although you will not submit this summary, you will need it as a reference to complete the summative assignment.)

2.      Find some examples of the writing used in the subject area assigned by your faculty. Look at math books, science articles, history resources, etc. Find samples at various grade levels. Ask your content-area colleagues for examples of the type of writing typical in their subject area. What were some of the things they read in their content courses in college?

3.      Carefully analyze the examples using the question guide found in the resources below.

4.      Get online and research various resources providing instruction in specific discipline-related writing. Evaluate these resources. Compare the information with what you noticed from your own analysis.

5.      Create a graphic using a particular subject-area writing sample. In this graphic, identify, label, and explain particular traits, styles, and conventions of the discipline evident in this sample. To get you started, look at the exemplar in your resources below. Yours does not need to look exactly like the exemplar, but it has to achieve the same communication as the exemplar: someone looking at your graphic will know the characteristics of that discipline’s writing style. 

6.      Post your graphic to share with your colleagues.

7.      Examine your colleague’s graphics. Be ready to participate in a (video) discussion (board) to build understanding about subject area writing instruction.

Creating an Informational Tool about Writing Instruction for Content Area Teachers

At the completion of this assignment, you will understand:

1.      All subject areas need to teach writing.

2.      ELA faculty has specific knowledge, skills, and responsibility for composition instruction.

3.      Each discipline has its own writing conventions.

4.      Subject-area teachers have the responsibility to teach the writing conventions of their discipline.

5.      Subject-area teachers can benefit by a) the clarification of their instructional role, b) awareness of their discipline’s writing conventions, c) instructional resources particular to their field.

6.      School Librarians have the skills and resources to raise awareness and provide instructional resources and assistance to help subject-area teachers with effective writing instruction.

7.      Adult learning theory informs effectiveness of professional development.

In this assignment, you will create a reference tool for your subject-area colleagues to help them understand the kind of writing instruction they must offer and the resources to help them carry it out.

Read a few brief articles online about the characteristics of adult learners. You will find they start to repeat themselves; from these characteristics, you’ll get the general idea of how you’ll need to structure your artifact.

Keeping these learning characteristics in mind, create a brochure, web-page, or other accessible informational artifact you could use with colleagues to help them learn why and how to teach writing in their content area. Structure your artifact so faculty can use it independently or with you as a co-teacher. As a co-teacher, your role would be to provide teachers with instructional/referential resources and to coach students as they learn to use the written conventions in the subject-area. Teachers working without your co-teaching need to be able to benefit from the informational artifact independently.

Your informational tool will have the following components:

1.      Rationale for teaching writing in the content areas

2.      Clarification of difference between writing ELA writing curriculum and subject area writing curriculum.

3.      Information clarifying characteristics of various subject-related writing. (Hint, take advantage of the graphics you and your colleagues created. No one said you couldn’t share resources you’ve created. . .)

4.      Lists of recommended resources for information on writing instruction pedagogy for math, social science, history, science, technical and vocational subjects.

5.      Suggestions and examples of instructional activities teachers could use to build student subject-area writing skills.


Your informational tool will have the following characteristics:

1.      Evidence of attention to the characteristics of adult learners

2.      Inviting appearance and tone

3.      Clear, concise writing

4.      High quality, vetted resources

5.      Teacher-friendly resources: practical, quick, easily-applicable, concrete

6.      Error-free presentation – accurate citing, adherence to APA writing conventions and mechanics

7.      Capability of building understanding within ten minutes

8.      Easy for faculty to access

Note: see rubric to understand the quality expected of these components and characteristics.