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  • Writer's pictureTara O'Brien

What is Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC)?

Updated: Jun 12, 2021

Writing across curriculum (WAC) is a model for not just learning to write,

but writing to learn (Walvoord, 1996).

WAC is characterized by research-supported instructional practices including opportunities for students to inquire and reflect across subjects through varied writing modalities, independent and collaborative grouping, individualized facilitation and support of students, the infusion of student choice and agency into writing instruction, and writing artifacts used as assessment of and for learning.

WAC requires significant resources for development within schools, especially with regards to time (Stock, 1989). Teachers across subject areas require time to Workshop and plan to integrate writing into every subject area within a unit of instruction (Stock, 1989). WAC integrates well into transdisciplinary and inquiry-based curriculum design and adheres to the social constructivist pedagogy towards education (McLeod, 2000). Inquiry-based learning, transdisciplinary curricula, and WAC are uniquely suited to facilitate differentiation for all learners.

WAC is a model for learning and can take on different forms in different school contexts. However, there are shared best-practice norms developed and/or researched by institutions such as The International WAC Network (IWACN). IWACN`s website includes a list of links to articles about best practice teaching practices for writing instruction.

Several recommendations are listed below!

  1. Trupiano (2014) recommends a student-centered and collaborative workshop model to facilitate communication and collaboration during the writing process. Grouping can take many forms and changes as students progress through the writing process. This strategy develops the self-efficacy of students as they become more independent writers and develop perseverance while learning to navigate the writing process.

  2. Trupiano (2014) recommends writing conferences conducted between teacher-student and student-student to review writing, reflect on strengths and weaknesses, and set writing goals. This strategy develops student identity as they begin to understand that they are writers.

  3. Trupiano (2014) recommends developing a collaborative classroom environment. This can be accomplished in a multitude of ways and will develop students` sociocultural consciousness by providing students with opportunities to understand each other`s perspectives and values.

  4. Liz Hamp-Lyons and William Condon (2000) recommend the use of portfolios to collect, reflect, and select writing samples while tracking progress. The use of a portfolio provides students with more agency as learners, which in motivating.

  5. Provide a variety of literature to serve as examples for students (U.S. Department of Education, 2012).

  6. Reflect on learning, co-construct writing goals collaboratively with students, and develop more self-reflective writers (U.S. Department of Education, 2012).

  7. Develop the understanding in your students that they are all authors (Stock, 1989).

  8. Contextualize writing with authentic experiences (Stock, 1989).

  9. Include tasks that require students to imitate the form and/or function of subject-specific or genre-specific writing (Stock, 1989).

  10. Provide a variety of different writing processes for different purposes (U.S. Department of Education, 2021).

  11. Conference one-on-one or with small groups of students working towards the same objectives throughout the writing process (McLoed, 2000).

  12. Facilitate progress through planning, drafting, sharing, evaluating, revising, editing and publishing writing independently, in collaboration with peers, and with support from the teacher at every stage of the writing process (U.S. Department of Education, 2012).

  13. Provide time for collaboration between students and time for students to share writing and learn from each other (McLeod, 2000).

  14. Teach students to become more fluent with writing conventions including handwriting, spelling, and sentence construction and develop self-regulated strategy development. (U.S Department of Education, 2012).


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