With common core, we are more and more commonly being asked to integrate writing in science classes. This sounds much more intimidating than it is. There are a lot of ways to integrate writing in science classes, or across curriculum. Here are a few ideas:
- We can easily think of ways to address non-fiction (lab reports, research projects) in science (or social studies). This is commonly done, and can be expanded upon. To be more successful, consider explicitly teaching students skills for successful writing, and possibly giving sentence frames or scaffolds to students who struggle.
- Poetry or songs: Students can demonstrate their knowledge through creation of a poem or song. I have done this with the water cycle (my life as a water droplet, as a drop of water goes through the water cycle), or with macromolecules (what type of food is it found in, when does it get eaten, what does it get used for in the body after it is eaten?) Students really get into it, and they undoubtedly remember better when they create a rap or poem! Students can also sing songs or create a song to remember formulas. My 8th grade math teacher had a song for the quadratic formula, and to this day that’s how I remember it! Students love creating these songs themselves!
- Persuasive writing: Science and Social Studies, and even math can lend themselves to controversial topics, particularly in application. Current news events, natural disasters, historical events, microfinancing, taxes, and loans, are just a few examples. Think outside of the box into where adults apply these topics, and would be discussing them at a dinner or conference. This is breeding ground for your students to choose a position and write about it. Students can write a short, very scaffolded position where they choose a position, supply evidence, and write a conclusion (maybe with a handout to help scaffold it). This can be done in several quick ways at the end of a lesson, through the use of a variety of exit tickets. Alternatively, students can write a full length paper on a topic, with the inclusion of content facts.I have had students write on whether people should rebuild or move after a natural disaster, the use of stem cells, informed consent, several environmental topics, etc. Students really get into it, and it gives them a chance to process what they are learning in a different way, and see the relevancy and importance of it. I use this persuasive writing guide to help steer their writing (for higher students) or to create a guide (for lower students).
I’d love to hear your ideas of how you integrate different types of writing into your class!
Tara is a science teacher from upstate NY. She has taught General Science, Biology, Environmental Science, and Earth Science.