16th Century Archives - Eva Varga

November 20, 20101

Writing Across the Curriculum is a teaching strategy developed in response to the need of students to learn content using a variety of strategies and their need to practice writing in a variety of contexts. It is essentially a writing task or assignment in classes outside of composition, literature, and other English courses.

Only by practicing the thinking and writing conventions of an academic discipline will students begin to communicate effectively within that discipline.

Postcards from the Early Explorers

I try to integrate a variety of Writing Across the Curriculum activities into our daily work. While we ventured westward across the Atlantic with the explorers of the 16th century, for example, the kiddos delighted in creating a postcard from one explorer to another.  Coincidentally, they both chose to write to Vasco Nuñez de Balboa.


If you click on the images, it will enlarge it so that you may read the context of their postcards.

Writing Across the Curriculum

The following basic principles underlie Writing Across the Curriculum:

  • Writing promotes learning.
  • Integration of writing promotes student participation.
  • Writing and diverse student voices engages students as critical thinkers.
  • Opportunities to write regularly – in many contexts – develops good writers.

In this example, they utilized writing to learn strategies which foster critical thinking, requiring analysis and application, and other higher level thinking skills. It is writing that uses impromptu, short or informal writing tasks designed by the teacher and included throughout the lesson to help students think through key concepts and ideas. Attention is focused on ideas rather than correctness of style, grammar or spelling.

Alternatively, when writing to demonstrate knowledge, students write for an audience with a specific purpose. Examples include essays that deal with specific questions or problems, letters, projects, and more formal assignments or papers prepared over weeks or over a course. They adhere to format and style guidelines or standards typical of professional papers, such as reports, article reviews, and research papers and should be checked before submitted by the student for correctness of spelling, grammar, and transition word usage. In other words, they showed what they had learned by synthesizing information and explaining or applying their understanding of the history concepts and ideas.