Writing Stressed In All Urbana School District #116 Classes
Writing is no longer just the domain of English or Composition classes. The Urbana School District has committed to teaching writing skills across the curriculum in each grade. District 116 believes that writing is a major component to successful communication in a person’s life, so that is a main reason that writing is stressed in every classroom.
The idea of writing across the curriculum requires students to use a variety of forms of writing for a variety of purposes and a variety of audiences. It is important for students to understand math story problems, write technical science reports, give a book report, write a story, debate issues of the day, write a history paper, understand prescription instructions, and compose a grocery list. All of these actions require good functional or creative writing skills and each subject taught needs to tie good writing into learning the content. The goal is to blend writing into every subject taught—not to make writing a separate subject.
“Our goal is to graduate students who can write, speak, and communicate and compare ideas across a broad range of subjects,” says Jean Korder, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment. She continues, “The expectation has always been that we would integrate writing across the curriculum in authentic ways, but now we want to make it public and make it explicit that we expect every kid to read, write, speak, listen, argue, and think deeply about every topic. We have to help kids know, understand, and be able to do the writing. So beyond the assignment of writing is the teaching of what good writing looks like.”
This year marks the first year of the formal implementation of writing across the curriculum. This presents a different way for teachers to approach teaching their curriculum. Korder says District 116 teachers will be given several professional development opportunities all year in order to learn this writing approach. Korder says, “Most of it makes inherent sense to (the teachers). The people who wrote the (writing across the curriculum) guide are educators in our district; they are teachers across all disciplines. The research they did into the body of knowledge about what we know about writing…is not a real stretch for our folks. It approaches writing in such a way that it makes sense to people who are not writing teachers.”
Korder says writing across the curriculum is laying the foundation of good communication for students in whatever field they choose for their adult lives.