Writing in Science
In fourth grade we take science very seriously. We feel that we have to be very meticulous in our approach to teaching the content because in fifth grade the students have to take the end of grade test in science. With that being sad, the level of expectation is very high. Students are expected to keep a science notebook with labeled pictures, detailed observations, and lengthy claims/evidence.
In our claims/evidence section, students are required to think about what we did during that lesson as well as something that they can claim using evidence from the lesson. Their claim is at least one sentence but usually ends up being at least two sentences. Their evidence for that claim is usually a three to four sentence response using vocabulary words and detailed examples from the lesson.
During parent/teacher conferences, I usually show the students’ science notebooks. Last year I had a parent who was also a third grade teacher at our school. She was blown away by her daughter’s responses and the detail in her writing. She commented that the kids don’t have to do nearly as much in third grade. This made me feel great because we spend so much time modeling and practicing appropriate responses using details to support our statements.
I know that what we are doing in fourth grade is difficult and time consuming but well worth the time because the students will leave our classroom knowing and understanding how to support their statements with evidence. This increases their overall comprehension of the topic as well prepares them for their future science classes in which they will have to create lab reports using written responses.
While I feel confident in the writing aspect that we have integrated into science, I feel we could do more writing in social studies. We do a lot of non-fiction reading on North Carolina and often have students respond through writing, but it is not as large of a component of our daily social studies block as it is in science. Does anyone have any suggestions about how we could integrate writing in social studies more consistently? I think it is just as critical that students are able to do so, but haven’t come up with any ideas that encourage writing about a topic besides creating more activities that require writing. Do you have a social studies journal? For those who only teach social studies, how do you fully integrate non-fiction writing into your block?