Getting Past "Just Because": Teaching Writing in Science Classby: Kris Grymonpre, Allison Cohn, and Stacey Solomon

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Over the past two years this seventh-grade team of teachers has taught writing across the curriculum, used common terminology, and assessed writing using a shared rubric, providing students with a basic writing structure that helps support writing across all subjects.

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Reviews (4)
  • on Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:00 PM

Really helpful article on how to incoprporate Claim, Evidence, reasoning and conclusion into the science classroom. Will be doing this next year in my classroom, helpful!

Kelly  (Brewster, NY)
Kelly (Brewster, NY)

  • on Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:41 PM

This article is an incredible resource for integrating writing into the science classroom.

Lori C
Lori C

  • on Wed May 02, 2012 8:18 PM

The authors provide an activity, “The Case of the Missing Meatball”, to integrate Claim, Evidence and Reasoning, and adding Conclusion, CERC, and writing arguments to support claims with reasons and evidence. The rubric incorporated student friendly language, though I am not sure it is as precise as it could be. When I presented it to my middle school students for their feedback, they felt many of the descriptions weren’t measurable. For example, how do you decide if the thesis “Makes the reader excited to read more.” What does that look/sound like? How do you determine “Does not have enough depth” to “Explains in depth?” When asked how they would improve the rubric, they could not come up with specifics. They finally came to consensus the rubric could probably be useable if definitions were provided at the time the rubric was used. They felt it would be important to use the vocabulary of the topic to help define what in depth would be. The important teaching moment for my students was to realize how they could have a rubric and make modifications to make the rubric useful as a learning tool. They did like figure 5, “Scientific Explanation Graphic Organizer”, to help them sort out their thoughts and put evidence and reasoning that would support their claims leading to a conclusion. I challenged them to use the organizer in Math as well. For example, they were able to use a system of equations and their solution as the claim. The evidence would be the work that supported at least three points on their graph. Reasoning was the steps they took to solve the system. The conclusion was the graph indicating the areas of intersection. Students that before had just gone through the motions and processes of math began to understand there were reasons behind each step and had to explain the Math behind each.

Sandy Gady  (Renton, WA)
Sandy Gady (Renton, WA)

  • on Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:29 PM

Writing across the curriculum, using common terminology, and assessed writing using a shared rubric is what this article talks about. It provides two scenarios, a cross curricular writing rubric, and a student scaffolding chart (descriptions for mnemonics, graphic organizers, writing action plans, conferencing checklists, writing processes, and focused practice on individual sections.) The strength of this article is how it integrates the relationship between the National Science Education Standards, which states, “…students in grades 5–8 can begin to recognize the relationship between explanation and evidence” to the ELA Common Core Standards in which students “write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence”. The authors described each step in their implementation of the writing processes in their science classrooms. They discussed why they made changes and it’s effect on the students writing processes. The authors also discussed their students strength in writing using their state’s ELA scores as evidence to support their claims. This is a great article to help a team of teachers develop their own “writing across the curriculum”.

Sue Garcia
Sue Garcia

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