My STEM Units

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Where Does Writing Fit In?

Science cannot advance if scientists are unable to communicate their findings clearly and persuasively. (A Framework for K-12 Science Education)

 When you think back on science in high school, there were probably lots of hands-on experiments.  Probably just as many lectures to teach you about the theories and laws of science.  But, how many times did you write about science?  "Well, that's for the English Language Arts teachers to worry about."  Not anymore.

The Common Core State Standards (or as Arizona calls them "Arizona's College and Career Readiness Standards"), specifically state that writing and reading is now the job of all content teachers.  "The Standards insist that instruction in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language be a shared responsibility within the school." 

The percentage of nonfiction text increases as students move up the grades
as well as the percentage of nonfiction writing projects.

Our STEM Curriculum Developers have looked extensively at the Model Content Frameworks to embed writing into the STEM units. 
We don't wish to replace the novel studies and literature circles.  Quite the contrary.  We aim to step right alongside those fourth graders reading City of Ember to start a STEM project on renewable resources.  And we know that teachers have nine hours of content to teach in a seven hour day.  The solution seems to be integration.  Let's use interdisciplinary units, that have nonfiction text, that prepare our students for 21st century jobs, and that produce writing projects for a global audience.

Common Core asks students to "write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences" in Anchor Standard 10.  We have embedded 

journal prompts:
Journal page for 2nd graders with sentence stems

constructed responses: 
Writing activity after Close Reading of text
online forums:
Students write in an online forum and comment on peer's threads
and final writing projects:
Digital Poster for final project

Website with digital media for final project

Our STEM Curriculum Team actively seeks the input of our teachers.  As we look to future STEM projects, what writing projects would you like to see?

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