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  • Writer's pictureSherry St. Clair

Integrating Writing into CTE Classes

Integrating writing into all classrooms can enhance the learning of students. It affords students an opportunity to organize their thoughts, improve their communication skills and think critically about their learning. Here are a few easy ways to provide students with meaningful writing experiences.

1) Exit Slips

During the last three-four minutes of class, a teacher will pause class to ask students to answer a few questions on a small notecard. These questions should be closely linked to the top three items the teacher wanted the students to retain from that day’s lesson. The teacher will collect the notecards as the students exit the classroom and will review the answers to the questions to determine if the students understood the content taught during that class. The teacher will be able to address any misconceptions at the beginning of the next class.

2) Quick-Writes

Periodically during the class period, a teacher will pause to ask the entire class a reflective question about content they are teaching. The teacher will provide students with one-two minutes to quickly jot their answer on a sheet of paper. Afterwards, students are asked to share exactly what they wrote with the person sitting next to them and/or the teacher. The teacher should address any misconceptions prior to moving to the next section of content. This provides students an opportunity to process smaller chunks of taught content while also ensuring they are correctly understanding what is being taught.

3) Evidence-Based Justifications

Teachers can easily integrate more writing into written assignments by always asking students to justify their answers with evidence. This ensures students are able to defend their answers and helps students develop the ability to communicate why they believe a certain answer is correct.

4) Academic Journals

Integrating journal writing into regular classroom practice can ensure students have an opportunity to process learning. There are several ways a teacher can utilize academic journals. One is to have students reflect on goals related to their learning. For examples, a teacher may ask students to interview an individual working in the field of their interest and record reflections of that interview in their journal. Another way to utilize journals is to have students reflect on material they are learning. Students can summarize their learning for the day, whether it be from an article, video and/or lecture. Finally, journals can be used as a means of dialogue between the teacher and student. They can provide a means for students to ask questions that they may otherwise feel uncomfortable asking in a whole group setting.

5) Scenario Writing

Scenario writing provides students an opportunity to reflect on how to solve certain career-related problem. The teacher provides the students with a scenario related to the material being taught and gives the students 5-10 minutes to discuss the scenario in a small group. Students should research a solution and write a paragraph to explain how they would handle the situation.

Integrating writing doesn’t take an enormous amount of time or prep and the benefits can be astounding. Not only does it better help the teacher understand the thinking of each student, it also provides necessary time for students to reflect and develop deeper thoughts connected to the classroom content.

How can I help you? Please connect with me to share your own concerns or ask for assistance. We truly are all in this together.

Sherry is the founder of Reflective Learning LLC, and works with schools across the country, creating specialized training and coaching services for school administrators and educators. She is the author of Coaching Redefined: A Guide to Leading Meaningful Instructional Growth

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