To add a little life into your content-area writing, students may appreciate playing with voice. Beyond just writing explanatory pieces to the teacher, develop a writing task that allows students to use their content knowledge by writing as if they were a particular concept or body part.
Physical education is one of the first content areas required by the CCSS to embed literacy within the course. Embracing these new expectations, high school P.E. teachers Dave Neuenschwander and Carey Blake from Adams Central (Monroe, IN) assigned their weight-lifting students the following prompt:
Your bicep muscle is located on the front of your arm between your elbow and your shoulder. In weight lifting, it is used to curl the weight up to the head area. In everyday activity, the bicep works when moving furniture, picking up a young child, or scratching your head. Your writing assignment is to write as if you are the bicep muscle and explain what it would be like when you are being used. Write in first person as if telling a story from the bicep’s perspective.
The results were fresh and funny! Student examples show evidence that they used domain-specific content from the class to complete the writing. The creative perspective made the assignment more fun for the students to write and to read.
TIP: To aid in grading, the content-area teacher may choose to have students incorporate specific vocabulary terms within the writing and then underline the words before turning in the piece. This allows the teacher to quickly scan and assess the student’s accuracy and overall understanding of the content.
NOTE: These P.E. classes are part of the New Tech program, where each of the students has a personal laptop. Students submit all of their assignments online.