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Writing in Science: Science Notebooks in Actoin

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Teresa Garza

on 27 July 2014

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Transcript of Writing in Science: Science Notebooks in Actoin

Science is the perfect content area to integrate language arts, particularly expository writing in the students’ notebooks. Student science notebooks have proven to be the best record of the science content actually taught by teachers and learned by students in the classroom. They provide an excellent ongoing assessment and feedback tool for teachers.
(Ruiz Primo et al 2002)
Learning Theory
Science Writing in the Classroom
Three Key Elements

Science concepts: understanding of the “big ideas”

Scientific thinking: think like a scientist

Scientific skills: work like a scientist

Elements are intrinsic to both science & writing.
Modeling and Scaffolding Writing in Science

Modeling provides students with opportunities to see and hear how scientists act, think, talk and write

Three types of scaffolding:

Visual: word wall, graphic organizers, etc

Oral: teachers using scientific language and thinking so that students “hear it in their minds”

Written: sentence stems & writing frames
Writing in Science:
Science Notebooks in Action

Before We Begin...
My Classroom
Today's Agenda
Writing in Science Research
Learning Theories to Support Writing in Science
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS)
The Science-Writing Approach in the Classroom
Modeling and Scaffolding Writing in Science
Meaningful Assessment of Student Writing
Emergent Writing

Let's Discuss!
What are your personal experiences of writing during Science ?
What are some Pros to writing in Science?
What are some Cons to writing in science?

§112.13. Science, Grade 2

2(D) record and organize data using pictures, numbers, and words;

2(E) communicate observations and justify explanations using student-generated data from simple descriptive investigations; and

Types of Notebook Entries
Predictions with Reasoning


Scientific Illustrations

Scientific Comparisons

Data Analysis

Graphs and Tables using Qualitative (observed)/Quantitative Data(measured)

Meaningful Assessment: Notebook Assessment
Begin with Strengths
– focus on the scientific criteria (Three Key Elements) rather than superficial statements like “Great Job!”

Address Weaknesses
through “questioning like a scientist” instead of making judgmental statements (i.e. “How could you make this part easier to understand?” as opposed to “You forgot to explain…”)

informal assessments
regularly – read what the student writes and provide oral feedback

Formally assess
a few times throughout a unit
Descriptive feedback
Prescriptive feedback

Fulwiler, Betsy Rupp. Writing in Science in Action: Strategies, Tools, and Classroom Video. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2011

Thank you!
Research has found that when people write about what they have learned they retain 70% of the content, but when they write and talk about what they have learned, they retain 90% of the content.
(Daniels et al. 2007)

Your students CAN do it, but it’s a skill that has to be learned through modeling and practice!!
Key Elements of the Science-Writing Approach :


1. Engage: Introduce focus question and activate prior knowledge

2. Investigate: Work with concrete materials and record data

3. Reflect: Partner and class discussion of results and conclusions (**Individual reflection comes later**)

4. Apply: Connect investigation to the real world
Key Elements of the Science-Writing Approach:


1.Shared Review: Review of the investigation and class conclusions.

2.Shared-Writing Mini-lesson: Model scientific writing for students. The teacher provides structure, while students provide content.

3. Scaffolding: Replace shared writing with a writing frame.

4. Independent Writing: Students record entries using the writing frame and word wall.
Group Discussion:
Procedures observed in the classroom

Repeated reference to the focus question

Modeling of scientific writing

Use of writing frames

Consistent use of scientific language

Notebooks used for both science and writing

Word wall
A Key concept is the zone of proximal development (ZDP), defined as "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978, p. 86)
Supporting Emergent Writing

Write words in highlighter for students to trace

Teacher writes student's words on a sticky note for the student to copy

Avoid using fill-in-the-blank writing frames-they do not help students to learn to write on their own

Personal size word banks

Working word walls
Vygotsky, L. (1978).
Mind in society: The development of higher psychological process.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Using Science Writing Stems
Let's Discuss!
Reflect on this lesson as a classroom teacher. How do you see yourself using these techniques with your content?
Next Step
Writing in Action
Full transcript