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!

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3 thoughts on “Forget What Mom Told You…It’s Good to Double-Dip

  1. I enjoyed reading your post and I think your class contributing to a blog is something they will love doing. I may even try it with my third graders! They would enjoy it so much and for it to be on the internet!

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  2. Hannah your words always flow so smooth and effortlessly as you converse about your students. I have said a billion times over I am a teacher meant for primary grades, please don’t ever send me to middle or high school!! I do admire and value the work that you do in your classroom, and I enjoy constantly hearing about your success stories with your students. I hear students say all the time “Mrs. Brady makes us do real work”. What a compliment to my ears!! I appreciate that just as your title to this blog refers to double dipping you do make them do real work and connect outside knowledge to your class. I understand the importance in students being well versed in all subjects, and it is so intriguing to me that you are undertaking the role of incorporating this into your classroom. You are going above and beyond the science curriculum, building strength and stamina for all subjects! I can’t think of a better investment in your students headed into the real world and college! I think it is admirable when teachers invest in their students in this way!

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  3. Hannah, your words are music to this beleaguered ELA teacher. I sometimes feel incredibly overwhelmed by the responsibility of teaching a broad range of writing literacy skills. Knowing that content-area teachers are also donning their superhero capes and taking on the gargantuan task of defeating the dread writing monster gives me hope and encouragement!

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