High school biology class is not always the setting that comes to mind when you talk about writing instruction. Lucky for my kiddos (even if they don’t feel so), they’re getting a double dip in writing and exploring the living world. I have three periods a day that, this semester, range from 11-21 students. One class, the class of 11, is an honors class that requires perquisites to be accepted in the course. This class goes into some part of nearly every major biological topic, from the most basic part of life, carbon, to learning how scientists are inserting bacterial plasmids into corn to create a species that will resist insects (and way more!). Yeah. They’re getting a heavy dose in a pretty short amount of time.
When I started bringing more writing into my class last semester, I got some puzzled looks and “why are we doing this?” questions, but luckily I decided to try the new strategies on a pretty willing group. Last semester our cohort learned a myriad of writing strategies, both for ourselves, and to try in our classrooms. In my class, we explored scaffold writing (poetry, specifically), generating writing topics, and even some content area “Who am I?” poems; all of which the kids were quite receptive. I dare say that I even got some positive feedback. That’s right. These kids actually admitted to enjoying the writing. As of right now, I have just received a new group of kids and we are inching our way into more writing.
This semester I am excited to start trying out multi-genre writing as a way to have a more meaningful and intensive vocabulary and concept review. My students will be doing this on a “blog” — more like a discussion forum — on Canvas (our learning management system). I have not yet started to try this out, but it’s coming soon! After last semester, I realized that the kids really do not have opportunities to write outside of English class. I knew I wanted to see this change, but didn’t want students to just spend time writing summaries (admittedly, at the time, my best idea…). After brainstorming with our professor, the idea of multi-genre writing was something I knew I had to try. My next step is to quickly gear myself up for taking on this task. My immediate goal is to really dive deep and sort through some strategy suggestions to decide which I will present to the kids. Hopefully, this will be followed by getting them hooked and into exploring the world of multi-genre biology writing very soon!