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Developing Writing Tasks to Express New Ideas

 

How will students express new ideas and share learning with others? When students create final products for authentic audiences, they solidify their own learning.

In 2015 Flow of History received funding from the Library of Congress to work with teachers to develop primary source writing tasks for students. We used the Literacy Design Collaborative (LDC) templates to develop informational, narrative, and argumentative taks.  The summative writing tasks that teachers developed are just the first step in a backwards design process that helps the teacher determine what instruction to provide to enable students to succeed in their writing.

The LDC templates are fill-in-the-blank shells that allow the teacher to specify the texts to be read, the writing to be produced, and the content to be addressed. The writing tasks are organized by of types of writing: informational, narrative, argumentation. They look like this: “After researching ________ (informational texts) on ________ (content), write a[n]________ (type of writing) in which you argue________ (content).  Support your position with evidence from your research.” If the task is informational writing rather than argumentation, the assignment would be to “define,” “describe,” or “compare” rather than “argue.” If the task is narrative writing, the form would be a narrative rather than an essay or a report.

In our experience, many teachers truly appreciate the clarity these templates bring to the process of thinking about what you want your students to accomplish, and how to help them develop the skills they need to become proficient and effective writers.

Flow of History teachers created several tasks using Library of Congress primary sources to share with colleagues. Topics include the Dust Bowl, Civil Rights, Triangle Fire, and the Underground Railroad. You can find them all shared here.

This program was sponsored in part by the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Eastern Region Program, coordinated by Waynesburg University.  

For more information on expressing new ideas and reflecting on learning, check out the Library of Congress Inquiry pages.