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Making Words Count: Writing Across the Curriculum and Beyond

Writing is a form of expression. In educational settings, too often the curriculum leaves writing assignments up to the ELAR/ELA/Literacy teacher.  This narrative needs to change. Good teaching and effective, inclusive lessons should span across subject areas.

If you are visiting this page, you have either recently attended one of my presentations or are just curious about math and literacy cross-curricular connections. Please view the resources below, as well as visit my previous presentation that focused on reflective writing and spanned writing prompts across all core subjects and electives titled, “Write Away: Writing Across the Curriculum and Beyond“.

Session Handout: https://drive.google.com/file/d/19dNvAh2ET_Yiqe-X3BJgliu1G8KT46RB/view?usp=sharing

Access Slideshow:

Additional Resources:

Article: Childs (2022) “Making Words COUNT: Writing Across the Curriculm and Beyond. Texas Association for Literacy Education Yearbook, Volume 9: TALE Turns Ten: A Decade of Literacy, Service, and Advocacy, pgs. 43-48
©2022 Texas Association for Literacy Education
ISSN: 2374-0590 online

Article: Childs, K. (2020) “Write Away: Writing Across the Curriculum and Beyond ” Texas Association for Literacy Education Yearbook, Volume 7: Leap into Literacy pgs. 44-48
©2020 Texas Association for Literacy Education
ISSN: 2374-0590 online

WAC (Writing Across the Curriculum) by Executive Board of the Michigan Council for Teachers of Mathematics: https://www.esc19.net/cms/lib/TX01933775/Centricity/Domain/91/Writing_to_Learn_Mathematics_306722_7.pdf

Writing Across the Mathematics Curriculum: https://wac.colostate.edu/journal/vol1/estes.pdf

Sparking Engagement- Translating and Integrating Social Media Into the Literacy Environment

The integration of social media, digital literacy, and its elements into the literacy classroom environment is a pairing that is necessary to keep students engaged in order to see the relevance of the skills in which they are learning. Students spend hours taking in popular culture and communicating their perspectives and ideas with the world while taking part in social media, but fail to see that they are learning and using similar skills when they are in the classroom. This chapter will demonstrate how educators can engage students with the skills they develop outside of the classroom, and apply those skills in lessons, tasks, and the classroom environment.

Session Title: “Sparking Engagement- Translating and Integrating Social Media Into the Literacy Environment”

Presented at the following conferences: NCTE 2022, ALER 2021

Topics/Research Interests: Literacy, Literacy Engagement, Digital literacies, Multimodal Learning

Chapter Information: Dr. Childs’ chapter, “Sparking Engagement: Translating and Integrating Social Media Into the Literacy Environment” from the book: Disciplinary Literacy Connections to Popular Culture in K-12 Settings

*For access to the accompanying slideshow, please email Dr. Childs at kchilds@drkchilds.com


Now, more than ever, technology guides today’s students through their everyday world. Even more so, social media serves as a place for them to explore through a social lens when interacting, posting photos, and playing games. Educators could engage students with the skills they develop outside of the classroom in the digital world and apply those skills in lessons and tasks in the classroom environment. Using the connection of academic language and the “language” within the digital realm, teaching practices can be modified to improve the performance and engagement of students. Implementing social media in the classroom does not necessarily mean that an educator creates and uses a specific platform for com- munication or socialization with the students, but instead begins integrating the terms, features, and communication tasks within social media to teach traditional literacy skills in English Language Arts/ English Language Arts and Reading (ELA/ELAR) classroom settings and lessons.

Sparking Engagement

This chapter will seek to:

  • Promote and explain how popular culture has an impact on the literacy classroom.
  • Give educators new techniques to integrate social media and the teaching of literacy skills.
  • Encourage educators to promote a classroom culture that uses various modalities to engage their students.
  • Provide examples of how to engage and empower students in various grade levels with elements of social media and popular culture.
  • The main purpose and focus of this chapter is about recognizing that students are already exposed to language skills and literacy skills that are taught in their everyday lives when they interact with digital tools. It is about the language used and culture that is built in a classroom to reach students. It is about the connection of traditional learning and digital learning. This chapter is not about using social media and its associated apps in the classroom in isolation. This is not a “how to” on using social media to plan lessons. It is about integrating concepts and making connections to use as teaching strategies. This chapter does not exist simply to tell educators to use social media while teaching. It was written to demonstrate that social media’s frameworks, purpose, and missions, align with literacy skills that are taught in classrooms.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Hashtag: A symbol that is the pound sign that signifies a category in which the content is categorized under. The symbol is often used on social media to better find topics or areas of interest.

APP: Short for the word “application.” An app is a technology program that is meant to perform a certain function, convenience, or service to a consumer or user.

Five Pillars of Literacy: Comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, phonics, and phonemic awareness.

Emoji: A pictorial symbol used in texting and apps to represent emotions, moods, and adjectives.

Literacy: Reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills that are pooled together to help a person communicate, interact, and comprehend.

Social media: Internet websites or smartphone/tablet applications that are created with various purposes for an intended audience (interaction, platform for creating and sharing art, music, writing, expression).

Popular Culture: Elements such as music, media, fashion, sports, and social movements within the society or environment that influence and engage a major population or demographic of people.

Traditional Academic Language: Language skills and vocabulary that are normally presented in the classroom that are a part of a curriculum that are used when referring to teach a particular subject area.

Social Learning: Experiences that take place with students outside of the classroom in which they learn from their interactions within the culture that surrounds them (social media, environment, popular culture).

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4721-2.ch014
Copyright © 2021, IGI Global. Copying or distributing in print or electronic forms without written permission of IGI Global is prohibited.


-Access Dr. Childs’ chapter, “Sparking Engagement: Translating and Integrating Social Media Into the Literacy Environment” from the book: Disciplinary Literacy Connections to Popular Culture in K-12 Settings or download a FREE sample: https://www.igi-global.com/chapter/sparking-engagement/265065

-More information about the book, Disciplinary Literacy Connections to Popular Culture in K-12 Settings: https://www.igi-global.com/book/disciplinary-literacy-connections-popular-culture/244552

Childs, K. (2021). Sparking Engagement: Translating and Integrating Social Media Into the Literacy Environment. In L. Haas, & J. Tussey (Eds.), Disciplinary Literacy Connections to Popular Culture in K-12 Settings (pp. 292-312). IGI Global. http://doi:10.4018/978-1-7998-4721-2.ch014


It’s been such a long time since I have updated my web page, but I have been SUPER busy with career stuff, as well as trying to find peace in this crazy time! I left campus for Spring Break in March, and we never returned to our normal schedule. During March and early April, due to the uncertainties, I had trouble sleeping (was not going to bed until 3-4 am), and I stress ate (too much..lol). There were times that I had to check out of all media (TV and social media), but other times when I was glued to the TV and my phone, and I just wanted to know if this was all really real. (And don’t even get me started on the horrendous act in the incident with George Floyd in Minnesota– I am beyond tired of hashtags, and the fear that racism and bigotry has always placed in my life–definitely left me going through a plethora of emotions)

To say things were challenging personally the past few months is an understatement. I lost my beloved mother in law in December, and I lost my favorite Uncle in May (both non-COVID related). Two deaths in less than six months can take its toll on anyone. But both of them were always a source of inspiration and hope for me, so I could still feel all that they instilled in me, pushing me along.

Thankfully, I did not want for anything during that time, and we remained safely quarantined in our home. I am blessed though, as the biggest worry that my husband and I had was where each one of us would hold a meeting (or class) in our house when we had one simultaneously. I know that was not the case for others, and I really felt sorry for my students (past and current) who were impacted and cheated of a “normal” classroom experience by this pandemic. My heart especially hurt for the Class of 2020.

So for the remainder of this post, I will focus on the positive only…

Positives that happened on my end during the peak of the country being shut down:

-I proposed, submitted, revised and edited (several times) my very first book chapter for a scholarly book titled “Sparking Engagement–Translating and Integrating Social Media Into the Literacy Environment”. (Coming January 2021)

-I co-wrote and had two articles published titled: “Write Away” Writing Across the Curriculum and Beyond” and “READ: Accepting and Interacting with the Diverse Needs of Texas Literacy Learners”

-My husband and I walked/exercised at least 4 times per week from Mid-March-April.

-I completed my first full year as a tenure-track professor (I was previously an Ad Interim Professor for a semester)

-I attended and presented at the TALE Annual Conference in Odessa, TX on February 29- March 1st. (It was the last major in-person conference and trip that I was able to take before the state and country shutdown due to COVID-19).

-I was accepted to present at the Black Doctoral Network’s Western Regional Conference for “P.E.E.P.S.” (Parent Involvement Empowerment Seminar); Postponed

-I was nominated Chair-Elect for the Texas Association for Literacy Education (TALE) for 2020-2021. I will serve as Chair (like the President of the organization) in 2021-2022.

-I was accepted to present at NCTE’s Annual Convention in Denver, Colorado (was to take place in November 2020, but it was reformatted to an online conference)

-We (a former TALE Board Member and I) finally finished creating and establishing READ@TALE (a Special Interest Committee of the Texas Association of Literacy Education.

-I took part in the North Star of Texas Writing Project (Online)

-I did several Instagram LIVE events (Keynote Advice for the Dear New Teacher Retreat Virtual Symposium and “Forever Educators” with Dr. Terica) and began a Writing Community on my Instagram page called #WriteWhys Wednesdays.

I share all of these good things not to brag, but to reflect and remind myself and others that all is not lost. I am back on duty today and moving into the Fall 2020 semester– in which I will be completely online with teaching courses and doing the required field experience observations with our students who are in their final semesters (student teaching). I have to push myself to maintain the same level of personal touches in my teaching and instruction, and find ways to give meaningful and feedback that I’d normally put into a face to face course. It’s a very stressful time, but I just keep telling myself that I am experiencing growth and encouraging growth from my students at the same time.

I have had such a trying year, but I am thankful for the blessings–even if I have to search for them. So far, 2020 has been a year that showed me that although I may not understand why certain things happen, there is always a purpose. A healthy balance of patience, persistence, and optimism are in my future. Pieces of the puzzle can often be lost, but once you find their place in the puzzle the picture is complete. Best wishes to all of my educator friends doing their part and going above and beyond!

Learn to L.O.V.E. Literacy for FREE!

Learning. Opportunity. Valued. Enhanced.

This book is for parents of any school age student (even college), teachers, administrators, educational coaches, curriculum specialists, and anyone else who has an educational interest.  “29 Days” contains a description of what “L.O.V.E” means (in relation to teaching reading and writing), and  activities that can be used for 29 days and beyond. From using technology, music, going on library tours, to writing movies reviews- these are not your ordinary strategies/ways to teach literacy skills!

SHARE the link to this resource with parents, teachers, and curriculum specialists. Remember, I have almost 20 years of experience teaching ELAR and literacy skills from elementary, middle, to college in urban and rural settings. If I can help you in any way, please email me at kchilds@drkchilds.com or follow me on social media for other resources.

Click this link to order a FREE eBook copy for my 2016 book, “29 Days to L.O.V.E. Literacy” :  http://www.blurb.com/ebooks/591577-29-days-to-l-o-v-e-literacy

Click this link to order a Printed Copy (Full Color) copy for $12.00:  http://www.blurb.com/b/7298053-29-days-to-l-o-v-e-literacy

Find out what L.O.V.E. Literacy stands for! Order and get to using your copies today!!!

TALE 2020 Annual Conference

I spent the last few days of February and Leap Day in Odessa, Texas (West Texas), fulfilling Board Member and social duties, and presenting a session for the Texas Association for Literacy Education.

I have been a member of and involved in TALE for almost five years. Each year, have had the honor of presenting a session on reading or writing. In that time, I have met the most amazing educators, and I am so thankful that we crossed paths. Not only have I gotten amazing teaching ideas and inspiration from my time in TALE, but I have gained an group of supportive educators to lean on as I transitioned into teaching in higher education. It has also given me the opportunity to mentor others. This page represents my time in Odessa, and it captures the essence of what it is like to attend a state level literacy conference.

View this post on Instagram

I got to spend four days waaaaay out in West Texas (Odessa) learning, and supporting TALE @txliteracyed —an organization that has helped me grow tremendously as an educator. My duties this weekend included a presentation, introducing a new special interest committee that I helped to found, and capturing the moments of the conference via photo, video, and social media. (Hence why there weren’t many pics of me). Before I joined, I knew no one in the state of Texas outside of my former school district, and I really craved more in the area of collaboration and leadership. For the past three years, I have been on the Board of Directors for TALE, and had the pleasure of representing the organization as the Social Media Coordinator. I have had an outlet to share my philosophies of teaching, mentorship, and this experience has given me connections to others with the same passion for literacy education that I might not have ever encountered. I have truly learned that we don’t encounter the people we meet by coincidence, and I am grateful for my TALE encounters over the past couple of years! #TALE2020

A post shared by Dr. K. Childs (@doctorkchilds) on

What I Presented

Write Away: Writing Across the Curriculum and Beyond: http://drkchilds.com/2020/02/writeaway/

Description: Writing is necessary and relevant to everyone! Attend this session to learn how to integrate writing activities in any subject area within your educational setting (including P.E. and Fine Arts) with creative, culturally relevant, and engaging prompts. Participants will also leave the session with a wealth of resources and ideas to motivate students to write outside of the school setting.

I also helped to found and debut the newest Special Interest Committee for TALE. Matt Panozzo and I have been working towards getting this established for almost a year. The information on the new committee was presented in a round-table. Unfortunately I was not able to sit in on the round-table, as I was already scheduled for another session. The details from the session are below:

R.E.A.D. @ TALE (Special Interest Committee of TALE)

Description: Participants should attend to learn about a new Special Interest Committee whose mission is to engage in understanding and supporting the needs of all students and teachers in Texas no matter their backgrounds. Beyond understanding the characteristics that make us unique, R.E.A.D.@TALE accepts and affirms the diversity, showcasing it as the quality that makes us stronger. Come join us to discuss what our work will include, and how we can impact your unique literacy spaces and environments.

Dr. Kamshia Childs, Texas A&M University-Commerce; Pearl Garden, Texas A&M University-Commerce; Rachel Collins, Hereford ISD; Ileana Jennings, Amarillo ISD

Write AWAY: Writing Across the Curriculum and Beyond

(AWAY) Authentic Writing Awaits You…

Writing is necessary and relevant to everyone! Attend this session to learn how to integrate writing activities in any subject area within your educational setting (including P.E. and Fine Arts) with creative, culturally relevant, and engaging prompts. Participants will also leave the session with a wealth of resources and ideas to motivate students to write outside of the school setting.

The objectives of this session are as follows:

  • Participants will learn to integrate writing into core subjects and beyond by applying their knowledge in stations/centers.
  • Participants will learn how to teach the major purposes for writing in a way that is applicable and relevant to students’ lives.

Audience: General (Applicable to all grade levels)
Keywords: Writing, Engagement, Curriculum Subject Integration, Literacy, culturally relevant pedagogy

Session Handouts

Reflective Writing Prompts  Download

This session discusses the need to use writing as a tool to engage and develop student thinking, by using creative and culturally relevant instruction. The information in this session aligns with (but is not limited to) the research of the following:

– Chall, J. S., & Jacobs, V. A. (2003). Poor children’s fourth-grade slump. American Educator 27(1), 14.

-Chall, J.S., & Jacobs, V.A. (1983). Writing and reading in the elementary grades: Developmental trends among low-SES children. Language Arts, vol. 60, no. 5, pp. 617-626.

– Graham, S., McKeown, D., Kiuhara, S., & Harris, K. R. (2012). A meta-analysis of writing instruction for students in the elementary grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 104, 879-896. doi:10.1037/a0029185

– Harward, S., Peterson, N., Korth, B.,  Wimmer, J., Wilcox, B., Morrison, T.G., Black, S., Simmerman, S., &  Pierce, L. (2014) Writing Instruction in Elementary Classrooms: Why Teachers Engage or do not Engage Students in Writing, Literacy Research and Instruction, 53(3), 205-224, DOI: 10.1080/19388071.2014.896959

– Martin, A.J. (2003). How to motivate your child for school and beyond. Sydney: Random House/Bantam.

– Taylor, L. & Parsons, J. (2011). Improving Student Engagement. Current Issues in Education, 14(1). Retrieved from http://cie.asu.edu/

– Winn, M., & Johnson, L. (2011). Writing instruction in the culturally relevant classroom. Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English.

Additional Resources

100+ Tools for Differentiating Instruction Through Social Media: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1ihsTwYr1kFx9Jb08Z2w5i1MWoxYkRXZbTP4Gcbodp6I/edit?pref=2&pli=1#gid=0

Authentic Writing Ideas for Reluctant Writers:


Classroom Management of Lesson Planning and Differentiation- CHEC Seminar

If you are visiting this page, you are likely a TAMUC Intern, and attended my presentation. I have provided the slideshow and accompanying resources below:

Accompanying Resources:

20 Differentiated Instruction Strategies and Examples: https://www.prodigygame.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/Downloadable-List-20-DI-Strategies-and-Examples.pdf

9 Ways to Differentiate Your Whole Group Instruction: https://www.thethinkerbuilder.com/2017/01/9-ways-to-differentiate-your-whole.html

Differentiating Literacy Instruction—There’s an App for That! https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1034918.pdf

Article- Classroom Management to Make Lesson Plans Effective: http://www.teachhub.com/classroom-management-make-lesson-plans-effective

Great website that explains diff. the process, content, environment, and the Product: https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/classroom-resources/examples-of-differentiated-instruction/

Lesson Planning and Classroom Management Go Hand In Hand (Slideshow (C) Cliffside Park School District): http://www.cliffsidepark.edu/Staff/Downloads/Lesson%20Planning%20and%20Classroom%20Management.pdf

NEW Article–D.R.E.A.M. Literacy: Enhancing the Literacy Experience for Diverse Populations

“It was all a dream…” In October 2019, I had another a peer-reviewed article published in the Texas Association for Literacy Education’s Yearbook. It was an article that began as a presentation session at TALE’s 2019 Annual Conference held in Waco, Texas (February 28th -March 2, 2019) . Read the brief abstract below, and follow the link to read the rest of the article:


“D.R.E.A.M. Literacy” represents several pieces necessary to address and provide quality learning experiences and equitable literacy instruction for all. The article delves into five sections that will provide examples of “D.R.E.A.M” (Diversity, Relevance, Engagement, Access, Motivation) being implemented into instruction, and encourages support for using diverse texts, popular culture and technology, and multimodal resources. The article seeks to empower educators to reach out to parents, and address teaching literacy skills beyond the traditional literacy curriculums that are adopted in school districts across the country. As populations in classrooms continue to grow more diverse, this article embraces and supports the changing demographics by making literacy accessible and engaging. Keywords: literacy, diversity, accessibility, engagement, motivation, culturally responsive teaching

Scan QR Code for Article: “D.R.E.A.M. Literacy: Enhancing the Literacy Experience for Diverse Populations” * Go to Chapter 9, Page 66 of the Texas Association for Literacy Education Yearbook Volume 6: October 2019

TAMUC Internship Presentation (Prezi, Nov. 2019)

D.R.E.A.M. Literacy Forum for resources/discussion

DREAM Literacy Waco Presentation (Prezi, Feb. 2019)

Spring 2019- New, Newer, Newest…

This is has been one of the most challenging, yet most rewarding periods in my entire life and career in education. I had so many new starts and new beginnings. A new city, new position, new home–you get the point, everything was new. Thankfully, despite family emergencies and relocating after being in the same place for 15 years, there were many opportunities to grow career wise and personally.

Hawaii International Conference on Education: I was able to present TWO sessions to educators from all over the world. It was a great career milestone to share my perspectives, as well as learn from others. In addition to presenting research in progress, I literally began the year by hiking up a mountain– Le’ Ahi (aka Diamond Head) in my “happy place” Hawaii. Long ago, I was athletic, and this would not have been an issue then, but physically and mentally this was one of the hardest things I have done. In the past, I never had to use my mental strength to get through a physical task (as I was just naturally athletic). But my early morning hike was most definitely more mental. Once I fought through and made it to the top with a breathtaking and rewarding view, it shifted my mindset. After that I was more focused and in touch with my health. Since that day, I have made better decisions on my eating choices, and made a better effort to take care of my body. The result is that I have lost 16 pounds!

Texas A & M University-Commerce (TAMUC): Immediately after I left Hawaii, the very next day, I reported to a new job, in a new city. For the last four months, I have worked as an Ad Interim Assistant Professor in the College of Education and Human Services (in addition to my prior duties as a TA online for the KSU MAT Program). I have taught classes at various locations and online for TAMUC, and although the transitions this semester have been rough (we lived in a hotel for 3 weeks until we closed on our home), I did my absolute best to be a valuable asset to the university and my students. The welcoming spirit, and helpfulness of everyone has been second to none. I am currently in an interim role, and aspire for a long term position with the university. I long to contribute to the DFW area and surround communities, and I have so many exciting contributions that I am ready to make.

TALE 2019 Conference: I traveled to Waco, TX in early March to share a presentation that I had been working on for awhile. To my surprise, it was my LARGEST presentation that I have given yet. The room was FULL! People were on the floor, around the walls, and every seat was full. The reception was wonderful, and great ideas and action have come from the presentation. While there, I was not only a presenter, but I served as a TALE Board Member, and virtually documented the conference as TALE’s Social Media Coordinator.

The First Gen- Lounge Podcast: Another “first” that took place this spring, was that I was interviewed for the first time for a podcast interview. Dr. Eve Hudson interviewed me for Session number 57 of her weekly show that has over 15,000 downloads in over 27 countries. I am thankful for Dr. Eve seeking me out to share my journey as a low-income, first-generation college student turned teacher, turned professor. I am glad I was able to share my story, and I hope that it inspires and motivates others.

Graduation & Students Achievements: This year, I had several former students who are now teachers, that were named “New Teacher of the Year”. I don’t take any credit for it, but I am so proud of them doing the work it takes to be recognized by their peers and students!

Last but not least, I was able to virtually or in person attend many of my former students’ college graduations. This semester, I had the honor of mentoring students near and far, and I do not take that lightly. I LOVE getting to see them begin a new journey, as well as it keeps me humble and thankful for my journey. All I want to do is give back!