Sentence Stems for Writing in Science

When it comes to writing in science, sometimes my students get confused or don’t know where to begin. I like to give them a tool to use in the beginning to help them form sentences. It is a simple page with sentence starters to help them form good/complete sentences.

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Sentence Starters for Science

I introduce them to the starters and explain some of the terminologies. I then give them some simple practice questions to try. As the year progresses this is a tool they can use whenever we have a written assignment. It is nice because I don’t have to constantly formulate ideas and I can point them back to this as a tool.

What tools do you use for writing in science?

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Socratic Seminar in Science

When I taught ELA, I used Socratic seminar a lot. It was a way to have student-generated discussions and it was something that I learned during student teaching. In this post, I am going to give you some information and tips for using this in science class!

What is Socratic seminar?
It is a method of discussion inspired by Socrates. Socrates believed in order to teach people you would not give them answers. Rather you would ask questions and help them arrive at answers on their own.

So how does it work?

For ELA I had students prepare questions and evidence for something that we had read. This is a viable option for Science as well, however, I think it could also work to discuss a phenomenon or an experiment completed in class. This is where science Socratic seminar would be different. It would not be entirely literary based.

Before you try to implement a Socratic seminar, I think it would be very important to explain what evidence is in science. I have found this is the most tricky part for my students.

I would also go over the following guidelines and explicitly explain what will happen and how things will work.

Student Guidelines for Socratic Seminar:
1. Come prepared having read the required reading or completed the activity for discussion, and with some questions or topics to discuss.
2. Be an active listener and speaker. Contribute to the discussion.
3. One Voice – only one person can speak at one time.
4. Be respectful (even if you do not agree).
5. Use evidence or examples from your reading or activity.
6. Explain your answers – a simple yes or no is not acceptable you must explain.

Role of Student and Teacher

As a teacher, you will simply be a facilitator of the discussion. Students will be expected to generate the discussion. I usually have a checklist ready and I explain to my students that they must contribute to the discussion a set number of times. Then I just check off when they contribute.

Want to try it?

I am excited to try this in my classes and I hope you will try it too. Below is a resource to help you further (I created it for ELA teachers, but I think it is helpful for science too).

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SocraticSeminarStudentandTeacherGuide

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Science and Literacy Activities

This is going to be a short and sweet post! I wanted to share with you all the science and literacy resources I have been working on. Each resource comes with three components:

  1. Reading Passage to annotate
  2. Foldables for Interactive Notebook
  3. Reading Strategy Page
  4. Some of them even tie into the doodle notes I have created – depending on the topic!

I made some of these resources to help out a co-worker who needed some literacy activities for her students. I also, however, created them because I noticed my students didn’t quite grasp how to closely read and find information. They want everything handed to them, but we as adults know that isn’t how it works sometimes.

I encourage you to look through them and try them out for yourself. Thanks so much for reading!

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Inertia Science and Literacy Activities (Newton's 1st Law of Motion)

Newton and Gravity - Science and Literacy Activities

Universe Expansion - Red Shift and Doppler Effect - Science and Lit Activities

Cell Theory Science and Literacy Activities

 

The Reading Strategies Book

I am convinced (along with many of you) that all teachers no matter what the content/subject area are reading teachers. As I was perusing some of my favorite teacher youtubers, I came across this great resource. It was reviewed by the Lettered Classroom and Tina Beitler. They both ranted and raved about the strategies presented along with the anchor chart ideas built into the book. I decided to get a copy, and I do not regret it.

I was worried after purchasing that this was going to be a book totally geared toward ELA teachers and not useful for me in the science classroom. And while it does have the language of an ELA teacher’s resource, it still provides valuable strategies to use across content areas.

There are four sections in the book that focus on nonfiction reading strategies. Within these sections is where I found some great ideas. One idea that I use quite frequently is the boxes and bullets strategy. The book explains how to teach students to pull bullet point ideas from their reading in orderly to concisely comprehend the text. It also goes on to show an anchor chart/handout to use with students.

This is not a sponsored post by any stretch of the imagination. I just simply wanted to recommend a good resource if you are wanting to up your literacy game. What strategies do you use in your class?

Want to know more about the Reading Strategies Book – Check out this article! 

NewsELA (not just for ELA)

When I transitioned into the science classroom from ELA several years ago, I was very surprised how many science teachers didn’t know about NewsELA. It was a resource that I used at least weekly with my ELA classes. Naturally that did not change when I became a science teacher. I started pulling articles relevant to our topic of study, and found that students were very engaged with the current-ness of the articles.

How to find articles and What to do with them?

  1. Go to newsela.com
  2. Type in your topic (in my example below I looked for fossils)
  3. Find an article that may work for your group.
  4. Print it with the additional resources OR save the url to share with your students (there is also a pro version where you can create classes and assign articles)

Here is an example of the search and what comes up after you search:

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What I really like about newsELA is the ability to differentiate. You can give the same article but change the reading level. One thing that I do is ask for my students reading level when they take their reading level assessment (STAR or MAP) from my English department. That way I can pinpoint what level students need for their articles.

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Another cool thing is that, if you use BrainPop, NewsELA is now linked to Brain Pop!! Yay! That means it automatically pulls in targeted articles based on the topic of the brain pop.

So, if you have not explored NewsELA I highly recommend that you do so. You can pull in some close reading strategies and really engage students with real-world content! Let me know if you use NewsELA or try it out in the comments below!

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Close Reading Task Cards

If you are new to close reading be sure to go back and read my previous post – Close Reading in Science.

In my previous post I mentioned the different steps that I teach my students for close reading. Close reading could also be called annotation, but in essence you are reading more than one time and taking notes around your article. It is very interactive.

Sometimes it is hard for my students to remember all the steps or simply what step they are on. So, I created some annotation task cards.

Currently I have printed out 12 sets on card stock and laminated. I also put them on a book ring. With that number I have enough for one set per pair. Students then have a quick reference for close reading and I also know what step they are on as I cruise around the room.

It is simple to make the task cards and the steps are on my previous post. However, if you would like mine, you can find them by clicking the image below and going to my TpT store.

 

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Thanks for visiting. How do you use annotation or close reading with your students? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below!

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Teacher Feature: Smith Science & Lit

Two years ago I found these awesome resources for incorporating reading into science. The resources were called Read and Apply, and they completely changed the way I present articles to my students.

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These products are created by an awesome teacher, Jess Smith. She has a background similar to mine in that she has taught science and ELA. This is an awesome asset to have with the focus on adding literacy into science.

Smith, like me, also uses interactive notebooks in her classroom and finds it to be an asset for the students. Sort of like they are creating their own textbook as the year progresses.

However, one of the biggest issues that I have found her products address is the issue of comprehension. Many times my students read something and cannot tell you what they read. Then if you ask questions, they cannot give you the answer because they struggle that much with comprehension.

Here is a brief explanation from her blog about how she uses her read and apply products to target comprehension:

“So on top of using our textbooks, I started creating activities for students to read and then an application activity that goes directly with their reading. These reading passages are SHORT (which the kids love) and easy to understand. This allows students to use MULTIPLE texts to comprehend a science concept. The reading passage can be glued into their notebooks, folders, or even on a piece of construction paper while students do the activity on the opposite side. The passages them allow for students to highlight, underline, circle, and take notes in the margin (which they CANNOT do in a textbook!!)

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After they read, they then do a HANDS ON activity to help them comprehend what they just read. FORGET answering questions at the end of the chapter or section! These activities push for higher level thinking and comprehension. I also include a writing prompt for each activity – a great opportunity for students to practice writing (they ALL need that, amen!?)”

So if your students struggle with comprehension, I really encourage you to check out this amazing teacher-author! Have you tried any of her activities? If so leave a comment below 🙂

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Check out her freebie on TpT by clicking the following image – original-2018611-1