Exposing Literacy in All Content Areas

Logan County Schools Secondary Writing Across the Curriculum Literacy Mandates

All Writing Across the Curriculum plans will be based on the state adopted standards.

Instruction in writing shall be a part of every child’s weekly educational curriculum in grades K through 12 in every appropriate class.  (Policy 2510; Policy 2520).

Writing Across the Curriculum

Writing across the curriculum is the umbrella term for the writing piece of literacy instruction.

It is acknowledged that Writing Across the Curriculum is one piece of overall literacy, and that literacy instruction cannot be separated into discreet sections.  Therefore, teachers will engage students in all literacy strands:  reading (narrative, poetic and informational), writing, speaking, listening, and viewing.

There are two strands of Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) instruction: Writing to Learn (WTL) and Writing to demonstrate learning.

Writing to Learn encompasses formative assessments, in which students engage in frequent writing opportunities to demonstrate to their teachers what they know, understand and are able to do.  Instructors use the assessments to find where and how they need to offer learning opportunities to their students.

Writing to learn opportunities should occur frequently in every classroom and curriculum.  Writing to learn should occur multiple times per week.

Some examples of writing to learn strategies

Reading journals

Generic and focused summaries


Response papers

Discussion starters

Learning Log

Cornell Notes


Student created vocabulary dictionaries

Double Entry Journals

Word Walls

One sentence summary

Frayer Model

Get the GIST

Writing to demonstrate learning is generally associated with summative assessments and longer writing opportunities, such as formal essays.  The West Virginia current standards recognize writing  Narrative, Argumentative and Informational/Explanatory writing.

Summative writing (writing to demonstrate learning assignments) should always be formally assessed using rubrics.  Students should have access to the assignment’s evaluation rubric when the writing is assigned; students will be taught how to use the rubric to plan, draft, and revise the final writing assignment.  Once the writing has been assessed teachers should engage in a collaborative conversation with students to help them understand how the writing met the standards, and ways the writing can be revised, or future writing assignments can be addressed,  to improve the  areas of weakness.

The West Virginia Department of Education provides instructional rubrics for narrative, argumentative and persuasive writing.  Since this rubrics align with common core assessments it is recommended that teachers use these rubrics at the appropriate grade level for instruction.  Rubrics can be found on the WVDE website, and linked, here from this blog.

Students in all curriculums and classrooms should engage in a minimum of one writing to demonstrate learning opportunity per quarter.

Style Guides, Sources, Citations, Plagiarism

Teachers will actively teach students how to correctly incorporate a wide variety of reputable sources for writing, as well as how to meet a format and style guide appropriate to the field of study.  For example, Language Arts and humanities teachers will ensure students learn to match the most current MLA style guide, while science, social studies, and math teachers will ensure students learn to match the most current APA style guide.

Teachers of all grades and curriculum areas must help prepare students for the rigorous responsibilities of plagiarism free writing at the college level.  Teachers will actively teach a wide range of lessons focused on summarization, note taking, and paraphrasing strategies.  While each school may adopt an academic honesty policy, it is encouraged that teachers discern the difference between accidental and intentional plagiarism within the classroom, using accidental plagiarism as an opportunity for continued teaching and development, and following the school’s guidelines for conseqnences in regards to intentional plagiarism.

Examples of writing to demonstrate learning activities

Research papers

Research reports

Lab Reports

Researched essays:  Argumentative and Informational


Vocabulary is an integral piece of literacy.  Teachers already know and understand that they should teach the academic vocabulary of their curriculum.  However, teachers also need to teach general vocabulary.  This is especially important for teachers working in high poverty schools.  For additional reading about vocabulary deficiency in students living in low SES homes, we recommend reading about the 30 Million Word Gap research.  One link is: http://centerforeducation.rice.edu/slc/LS/30MillionWordGap.html

Some vocabulary strategies

Word Walls

Frayer Model

Student Generated Dictionaries

Creating images to match word meanings

keep calm and common core

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