National Writing Project

Using Genre in the Social Studies Classroom

By: Keri E. Scheidel
Date: April 2008

Summary: In this chapter from Writing Intention: Prompting Professional Learning through Student Work, Kari Scheidel, who is with the Lake Michigan Writing Project, discusses how she immerses her students in the study of American history by introducing them to writing in genres such as plays, news articles, and brochures.


Excerpt from Chapter

As the year progressed, I released control and asked strudents to decide which genre would make the most sense for particular areas of study. They wrote brochures enticing men to travel to the "New World" and help start colonies. They wrote letters home describing the hardships we would have faced had we been part of a family settling in one of the colonies. They made posters telling of town meetings or public auctions for the sale of slaves. The students were intentional as they chose genre. As they thought about topics, they too thought about the genres that would have actually existed during that point in time. As students read, talked and wrote, they discovered that we were creating versions of primary source documents historians had used to write our textbooks.

The events of American history were alive and real to my students. They retained more of the information throughout the year than students from the past. I was amazed at how often students would notice similarities between events and people that were years and years apart. By using various genres in my social studies classroom I found a way to effectively use writing in another content area.

Copyright © 2008. Reprinted by permission of Michigan Reading Association.
Scheidel, Kari E. 2007. "Using Genre in the Social Studies Classroom." In Writing Intention: Prompting Professional Learning through Student Work, edited by Cynthia Clingman and Antonio Tendero, 41–44. Grand Rapids, MI: Michigan Reading Association.

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