The Science of Teaching Writing

A blog on teaching, with an emphasis in teaching writing.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Multi-Genre Writing, Part III

So much of the writing we do with kids in other disciplines is not fun. This one is one of my favorites.
One of the experiments my student did was called a Fizz Quiz, and they learned about chemical reactions and what happens in these reactions. I wanted to incorporate something that would be every day in their lives and get them writing, so I chose the form of writing like a newspaper article.
We first talked about what was in a news article: who, what, where, when, why, how, headline. Then we talked about the experiment and what was in the experiment: 50 mL of water, citric acid, baking soda, calcium chloride. Then when happened: a chemical reaction occurred, carbon dioxide was released, and it fizzed and foamed. Then the most important step: I let them make it fun by making fun of me and/or other teachers. They were so excited!
In reading through them, I was so impressed by their creativity and language. Some kids had the chemical reaction getting way out of control, to the point where school had to close. One student had me, in the story, screaming and passing out because I had the junk on my tie--hey, those suckers are expensive to clean. Some poked fun at other teachers, all in good taste, but there was flow, personality, and you can tell they enjoyed writing it, because it was hard not to enjoy reading it.
For assessment, I made a rubric in excel. It was a 6 point rubric based on voice/entertaining, the 5 W's + 1, Conventions, and of course, Science. The rubric was shown before so they knew what they had to have, and then when they had their finals handed in, I stapled a rubric to all of them, circles what was what, and I'll be passing them back to my kids on Monday. I think the rubric makes this a better assignment, especially by expanding it from 1 to 4, to 1 to 6: there is a big difference in a 3 and 4, and too often, kids are inbetween, and it's hard to decide one over the other--with a better rubric, this process becomes easier and less subjective.
This whole process took three or four 40 minute session.
Again, post your email if you have questions or want samples. And sorry, you'll have to make your own rubric.


At 4:56 AM, Blogger graycie said...

What a great idea! As an English teacher, I really appreciate other-subject teachers who work with writing -- I know it's not easy.

Your rubric idea is a good one -- it can make grading comps a LOT easier. Like you said, just circle their rank in each area and move on. I write out the assignment requirements and put the rubric at the bottom. They staple that to the top of their work when turn it in. They have the rubric right in front of them as they figure out what to do.

Kudos to you.


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