Sneaking It In: How to Bring Writing Into Other Areas
By Chelsea McLeod
Writing in school is often seen as a skill linked only to English. It is often viewed as an immovable part of the curriculum and focus in this class. While this is technically true, it is not the whole picture. Not only is writing helpful in other areas, but it is also essential that it is practiced in more ways than can be offered in a single class. Furthermore, while many of us inherently “know” this fact, it is often difficult to wrap our minds around it when planning the homeschool day and to try to incorporate writing with other subjects less traditionally associated with it.
How To Incorporate Writing Into Other Subjects
So now, how does one add writing to other subject areas? When we traditionally think of writing, we think of essays, stories, paragraphs, spelling practice, etc. These are all great ways to practice and can be very effective in building skills, there are many other engaging ways to work on writing while learning other subject matter, and you can make it fun while you’re at it!
- Before you complete the experiment, have your learner make a prediction of the outcome and write it out. You can also have them include why they think what they do and have them add some proof or detail their thinking.
- For older students, you can create an assignment where they need to complete some research and explain in written form why the outcome was a certain way.
- Math can be tricky, but one of the best ways to incorporate more writing is to have your student journal. They can ask questions in their journal, formulate hypotheses, and even explain their thinking when it comes to solving problems.
- They could also have a few minutes each class to write about their frustrations in math or celebrate successes they have been working hard to achieve.
- Finally, in these journals, you can have them use the 3, 2, 1 method of exit slips (an informal assessment of understanding). They could write three things they learned in the lesson today, two things they found interesting and one more question they still have about the topic.
- Story Problems
- You should assign your student to write a few story problems. You can give them an equation they can use, or they can come up with their own. They then write a short trial that can be solved using that equation.
- This can be done with another homeschool family or a group, and then the students could trade and solve the problems. That way, they are practicing their problem-solving skills and writing.
- These are hard for lots of students to solve as it takes some higher-level thinking. It is important to piece together the necessary information and separate that won’t be used to solve the problem. For this reason, this might be a more effective exercise for older students who have had some practice and success with story problems.
- Explain Artistic Expression in Detail
- Learners need creative freedom, but sometimes it is difficult for us to know what they have made/drawn, especially when they are younger. In this case, you could have them draw a picture and then explain it in written form. You could also ask them why they decided on this particular thing.
- They can draw a story’s characters and setting and then write it. This way, they can bring words to their visual work and a visual to their story. In many ways, this can sometimes even help to overcome a block. If they struggle to write or draw, you can have them do the opposite to spark their imaginations.
Social & History
- Write a Textbook
- A great way to review and solidify information is to compile it into a cohesive and informative text. This assignment is best done with older students as it can benefit from lots of cumulative knowledge. I have used such an assignment in a High School Class in place of a final exam.
- A similar concept can be used with younger students. However, it would need to be a modified assignment that may include less extensive writing.
- Plan a workout
- Your student could plan a workout, including the warm-up, all the exercises and cool down. They would then complete the training themselves or lead a small group. Once that is done, it would be a perfect opportunity for a reflection. A written piece of their thoughts on what went well, what didn’t and what they would or could do differently next time.
- Keep a Journal
- They could keep a journal for a week or two. In this exercise, they could keep track of what they are eating and how much exercise they are getting or reflect on what they could do to change their habits or maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Some Other Ways to Get Kids Writing More
Thank You Cards
- For example, if you go on outings to the museum, a lecture or a play, you can have your students write a thank you to the workers or speakers.
- If you are a part of a homeschool co-op or group hosted at several different houses, your student could thank those hosts.
- Similarly to the above, if you have a guest speaker at a homeschool co-op meeting, or maybe you put together an assembly in honour of a particular day, you could have your student plan and write an introduction. They could research the speaker and include some information about
- This one is a classic! There are often programs in schools that connect kids to this type of thing. Similarly, several online programs or even Facebook groups explicitly aim for homeschool kids and connect them globally.
You can get creative with incorporating writing practice into your homeschool day. Writing practice doesn’t have to be specific or focused in only one area; it can also be spontaneous, like writing a grocery list or planning out a phone call you have to make.
So, as you can see, there are many different ways to get your learners to write; honestly, this isn’t even an exhaustive list. There are many more ways for your student to strengthen their skills.
In the end, the more exposure they have to writing in their various subjects, the stronger they will become. So take some ideas from this list or come up with your own but most importantly, focus on the practice and not the subject matter and see how much growth your student writer can achieve.
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