Writing in the science curriculum

So having the day off for Rosh Hashanah proved to be a great time to collaborate with educators from across the country.  I started with a post by Brian Bennett where he talked about using a picture-prompt to have his students perform a writing task in his biology class.  I thought this was a pretty clever idea and after talking with him over Twitter, we developed a couple of tweaks for the assignment which I tried out today.  Here is the picture I used:

The funny thing is the same thing happened to me as Brian.  As soon as the picture came up I got:
“Does it have to be about science?”  No
“Can I write it in bullets?” Sure
“Does it have to be about the picture?”  Don’t care.
“Are you grading this?”  No
“Can I make up a story?”  Don’t care.
“What’s that a picture of?”  No clue.  Write a story about it.

Students have been so conditioned to write to specific requirements that they have a hard time when no restrictions are given.  There was an amazing difference between my Honors and College Prep students and not just in their writing.  I could go on and on about my interpretations of how each of these groups are being prepared in their English classes, but I would rather focus on the interesting responses I received.  Here are my favorites:

He was at McDonald’s.  Jimmy spent most of his day there.  Oh how he loved the playground inside of the fast-food restaurant.  The ball-pit was always the first place Jimmy would head to.  The huge pit filled with different colored ball felt like home to Jimmy.

People make mistakes.  If you don’t make an effort to fix them and amend them your not doing it at all.  I don’t know what to write at all.  I mean theres an atom picture ans some words but I don’t know what to write.  hmmm.  I’m tired. Wow 6:20 am is early.  I don’t why school is so early in the morning. and what are those red things on the picture?  So many questions so little answers.

“Please” my teacher said “ask questions if you think you’re doing it wrong.  Go ahead, screw up. It’s ok as long as you ask questions.”

Science is an incredible thing.  We explain the world with it.  When our ancient ancestors were around, they used gods and goddesses to explain things in nature they didn’t understand.  It’s fine for somethings to do it that way, but when someone is sick with say a cold, and people ‘heal them’  by praying to the gods.  But we know that didn’t really do anything.  They needed actual medical attention.  And ya know, it’s a tricky thing because some very religious people still believe and do things that way.  Even though we have an explanation now a days.

neutrons, circles, blue, red, black, science, make mistakes, woo, CUPCAKES, 8 circles, red dots, black background, chemistry, Today is Friday.  I don’t want to be here. WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?  A woodchuck could chuck as much wood as a woodchuck could chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.  Once upon a time….

There once was a man names Marc.  He was the captain of a ship called the S.S Daretofail.  Yes that is one word.  I believe it is of German origin, like ununquadium, except I think that’s actually latin…But I digress.  Captain Marc had decided that he needed a crew for his beautiful ship so he sailed to the distant island of Room 244 to see if any of the natives were interested

I have been working hard for weeks on this but I finally created an amazing candy.

This is the first time I have used a writing prompt and I absolutely will do it again.  What ways are you using writing prompts in your classroom?


1 thought on “Writing in the science curriculum

  1. Cheska

    Writing prompts are great class starters. I've used daily photos from the Nat Geo website and the Explore photos from Flickr for qualitative/quantitative observation and inference practice. Since ELA class is covering mysteries and inferences, I've blown up and cropped photos and turned them into Mystery Photos. Some of their free-writes, paired w/ obs and inferences, have been quite interesting.



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