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.


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?


A “Rock”-ing Autobiography

Recently there has been a push to add more writing in all content areas. Being from an ELA background I have welcomed this with open arms. I love writing and being able to see the creativity of my students through their writing.

We just finished a unit over the rock cycle, and to close our unit I created an assignment. My students had to pretend they were a piece of sand at the bottom of a river and write about how they became a rock and went through the rock cycle. They had an option to write a story or create a comic strip. I am very impressed with what they came up with. I had some stories about the sediment floating by SpongeBob’s pineapple and others about the rock being crushed in Super-Mario.

Here are a couple of examples that I thought really displayed their understanding of the rock cycle!

Story Choice

Comic Choice

If you think you would like to use this in your classroom, I made a downloadable product on TeachersPayTeachers. Just click the picture below:

Rocking Autobiography - Rock Cycle Writing Task


What is a Scientist?

As one of our beginning of the year activities we had students write and draw about their idea of what a scientist is. It is very interesting to see how many students get specific, how many automatically draw a man, and so forth. I really like this activity because it is a glimpse into who my students are and their style of writing/drawing.

Here are two examples from this year:



I loved that one is a typical mad scientist and that another has a girl as the scientist. If you would like to see what your students come up with download this product from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

What is a Scientist? Writing and Drawing Activity

Why I Teach ELA

Stories have permeated my life. When I was a little girl my granny told me the story of the three little pigs whenever I was at her house. My mom also read me a story every night. At family gatherings I would listen from the sidelines to my uncle’s recount the glory days of high school football. At that time I could not wait to learn to read and join the world of stories that swirled around me.

I believe in the power of stories. Stories both read and told; both written and unwritten. Stories give us the power to learn and the power to have our own voice.

I remember distinctly the day my granny gave me my first chapter book. Excitement pulsed through my veins as I dove into the first chapter. This chapter book was different from all the others books I had read. It didn’t have any pictures. My granny explained to me that this book was better, because my mind and imagination would paint the pictures.

As I continued to develop as a reader, I read everything I could get my hands on (shampoo bottles, encyclopedias, can food labels). And in those moments I realized that I did not want to be just a consumer of stories, but a producer of stories. Since then I have read, written, and told stories. I have also began to teach. I have met new and inspiring people and lost those who inspired me most as a child.1931312_1080739099979_5999_n

My granny is gone, but she left me with her passion for stories. A passion for reading, writing and telling stories. A passion that I hope to pass on to my students. And that is why I teach!!


Spring Semester has been a time of many, many breakthroughs for me as an educator. I honestly think that I was in a place of treading water last semester. What I mean by that is, I did not look forward to going to work each day and work felt like work. Now, I have finally come to the place where I am looking forward to going to work each day. Wooowho! (it doesn’t make teaching or managing my classroom any easier at times, but it does make me feel 10x better!)

As I mentioned earlier I have experienced many breakthroughs with my students. We have gotten incredibly close, and some of them call me ‘MA’ – which I equate with Freedom Writers. We have read some Holocaust literature and my students were very empathetic and dove deep into their reading. I was able to get some AMAZING writing from them.

Since spring break (the second week of March) we have been reading The Freedom Writers Diary and each student is required to keep a journal. I thought that this would only be another of my failures to add to my list. Surprisingly my students love their journals. We write about topics we are reading about and they can add their own writing at any time.  The main thing that I keep in mind with journal prompts are the themes we are reading about and how relate-able it is to my students.

A week or so ago we had a journal topic about labels. What labels did people place on Ms. Gruwell and her students? What labels have people placed on you? During our discussion my students were not completely understanding the labels aspect of themselves. So I offered myself up as a guinea pig. I asked them what labels they could place on me. They started listing some personality traits and so forth. I redirected and said, “Okay, I walk into a room and you have never met me.” Silence. “Come on guys, I’m White!” Then one of the most amazing and profound thing happened. A student raised her hand and said, “Nuh-uh, Ms. Caldwell – You’re our color!”

I was and still am speechless. I have went through so much with my students just trying to give them a little taste of my passion for learning. It is nice to see how far we have journeyed! I am looking forward to our final moments of the year as bittersweet as they may be! Until next time…

Black Out

We are currently studying poetry in my class. We learned a song for the elements of poetry (set to the song “Take a Bow”). During writing I have been teaching different poetic forms and how to construct poems. I found several great resources on TeachersPayTeachers. One was a prezi presentation on blackout poetry. After their test on Friday my students did an amazing job creating their own poetic art.

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Here is a link to the blackout poetry presentation – FREE!! 

Wow for Writers Workshop

This semester in one of my classes I have started using Writers Workshop. So far it has worked out great. My students are excited to have a few minutes each day set aside to just write. This class is the last class of the day and I think the students find relief in just writing for a few minutes. I have used the following ideas in formatting my Writers Workshop:

Mini-Lessons – Each week I teach two mini-lessons pertaining to problems that students have in their writing. So far this has included subject/predicate agreement, run-on sentences, and sentence fragments. After our break we are going to complete mini-lessons on formatting an essay and narrative writing. These mini-lessons do not last the entire class period (only 15-20 minutes), but include practice for the students to do in class or for homework. I also ask for student recommendations for mini-lessons. Usually they can pinpoint ideas that they need help with and we can complete a mini-lesson to review in class.

Conferencing – I also have conferences with students each week to talk about their writing. Before they come to conference they must pick out one thing they are finding difficult and one thing that they really like about their writing. We then discuss these two items and attempt to make their writing better.

Peer Review –  Students are required to complete a peer review for their writing each week. This is something we have talked about a lot. Especially how to complete a helpful peer review.

Sharing – One day a week we all share what we have been working on. Everyone reads their writing and we give polite feedback.

Modeling – During this part of the day I write with the students, unless I am conferencing or teaching a mini-lesson. I work on my own writing and share with the students. It is important that they see me writing so that they see it is important to me as an adult.

Music – I have started to play music during writers workshop. It is strictly instrumental, but I heard from another teacher about a really neat group. Vitamin String Quartet actually transposes modern music into instrumentals. My students love it!

Eraser and Pencil

Maybe these few ideas will spark some inspiration for your class as well. I hope to add some of my mini-lessons to TpT soon, so be on the lookout!

Using Post-its for Reading

Okay at first I thought that my students would groan and complain when I introduced using post-its to take notes while reading. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The students actually got excited about using the post-its. One of my students actually asked if she could use more post-its than I required. Holy Cow!

Due to my students interest I have integrated post-its in several ways.

1. When I first introduced post-its we talked about making text connections and six questions students could ask when thinking about what to add to their post its. I then gave students a short story and six post-its to complete based on the questions we discussed (1 post-it for each question).

2. After a few days of using post-its in class we discussed how to extend our post-it note responses. I created a handout and had them choose three post-its to extend. Basically students used their post-it as a jumping off point for a paragraph.

3. After students had practiced extending their responses. Students took one of their extensions and used it to create an essay. I also had students use three post-its to create a summary or analysis of the story.


4. For 1-3 we used short-stories. We are currently doing a novel study. For our novel students are required to write six post-its per chapter and then choose one to use as a journal topic.

I have truly been amazed to see my students work. Many of my apprehensive writers have became excited about writing using this strategy. I think a lot of it has to do with choice and giving them the opportunity to take ownership of their reading and writing.


If this sounds like something you would like to implement, you might want to check out my product on Teachers Pay Teachers:

Post-it Note Reading and Writing Workshop Resource Pack

Going Fishing

I am now back in the states. One of my favorite things to do with my daddy is to go fishing. We have went fishing together my entire life. Sometimes we catch things and other times we just enjoy the peace and quiet that the lake brings. Besides my dad says that if we just caught things it would be called catching not fishing.

I took this time to use fishing as an inspiration for a new resource in my classroom. My students get very bogged down with research. They don’t really have the proper steps to go through. I have tried note cards and outlines, but it all seems to go over their head. Today I made a product that I hope will help with this next year.

It is called fishing for research and it uses the acronym or acrostic ‘FISH’ to help them find and organize their information. An explanation is availble for free in my TpT store by clicking the picture below.

In honor of fathers day and the beginning of summer I am hosting a sale on my TpT store as well.  The sale will be running from June 16-20. There will also be a giveaway in my Teachers Notebook store. So go there and check it out. Click here or below to find out about other teachers who are having similar sales, freebies and giveaways 🙂