Reflection: Adjustments to Practice Going Deeper: Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration in the Carbon Cycle - Section 3: The Classroom Flow: Time to Brainstorm and Create


I first began experimenting with writing-in-role years ago and I quickly realized it had value for both me a teacher/assessor and for students as creators, viewers, and learners.  By requiring students to write as a character so that their book had a clear narrator rather than a passive third person approach typical of textbooks and other academic writings, students were required to actively create language that mirrored their understanding rather than parroted what they had read an expert say in a textbook or on a website.  Students found that writing in this way created active verbs and action that was engaging to write about and even more interesting to read.  Students asked each other to trade books not just to compare content area answers, but so that they could learn from each other and compare their understanding from multiple viewpoints and approaches.

Students and I also loved the creativity entry point writing-in-role provides; these projects are always entertaining to assess, and students and I have a chance to congratulate each other on interesting visual and writing work that is separate from the content area knowledge piece that we typically emphasize.  This allows many students to feel very successful and they display their work with pride.

Finally, as a teacher, I can be confident that I will not encounter many if any issues with plagiarism; by shifting the language from a passive voice to an active one requiring active verbs and an actual narrator/character with his/her/its own unique voice, that option is off the table for students who are actively attempting to cheat or those that are not really paying attention to the subtle differences between paraphrasing and copying.  

What other ways have you used narrator/character writing successfully in your class? I can't wait to hear your best practices with this engaging technique so that I can enhance my own classroom strategies too!

  The Power of the Narrator in Writing for Understanding
  Adjustments to Practice: The Power of the Narrator in Writing for Understanding
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Going Deeper: Photosynthesis and Cellular Respiration in the Carbon Cycle

Unit 9: Unit 9: Energy, Ecology, & Classification
Lesson 2 of 7

Objective: SWBAT identify and compare the major steps, reactants, and products of photosynthesis and cellular respiration.

Big Idea: Your students become the teachers as they author children's books about photosynthesis and cellular respiration!

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