Writing in the Content Areas

June 24, 2006 at 11:20 am | Posted in uncategorized | 27 Comments

We have focused our class time on exploring reading in the content areas.  What does student writing resemble in math and science?  How would the implementation of writing activities in your classroom connect with the following quote?

Students learn best by becoming a part of their own learning, taking an active role in classroom activities, and assuming responsibilities for their education.  (Billmeyer & Barton, 1998)

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  1. When I was in high school, student writing in science included mainly lab reports, and once in a while, a research paper. There were short essay type exam questions where we were asked to explain a concept or interpret data. There was no writing at all in math, other than 2 line proofs, which did not require complete sentences or any real writing or language skills. I think those of us who experienced this lack of writing during our educations, and then went on to college and/or professions in the sciences or math probably realize as much as anyone, the importance of good writing skills. I believe one good application (among many) of student writing to math should include descriptions of problem solving strategies. Puting ideas to writing really forces you to thoroughly organize your thoughts and ideas into a structured format – and no subject requires more structure than math. It also allows students time to reflect on their own understandings (or misunderstandings), uncover their own sources of confusion, and take active roles to clarify. The thought processes required for writing may in themselves help make concepts and connections “click” with students. Of course, this is true regardless of the subject or content. What a terrific way for students to take some responsibility for their own learning and allow them to build their understandings through their own active thinking. This gets to the heart of the quote. Any time students are given the opportunity to organize, refine, and restructure their own thoughts and ideas, they are taking part of an active approach to education, even if they don’t realize it (and this might be the best part of all). The thinking and organizational skills required for effective writing correlate directly to the structure and logic required of students in the mastery of scientific or mathematical concepts – as well an many other subjects.

  2. First I want to comment about the post reading strategies we have learned about today. I think that the RAFT is a great idea and I am definitely planning on implementing them into my curriculum as fun activities for my kids to do while at the same time reinforcing concepts.
    Up to now we see student writing in science mainly come in the form of lab reports, short answer questions, and an occasional research paper. In mathematics, writing comes around mostly in the form of short answer questions, proofs (lame T proofs) and the RARE mathematician paper. I actually do some reflections in my math class and have some activities that involve some writing activities, it is rare that my students write about the mathematics we are dealing with. There has been a major push for literacy in mathematics recently with the new standards and the “new” Math A and B questions. Students today need a strong vocabulary and literacy background in order to be successful because a vast majority of problems today are not simply solving for x anymore. The problems have important and irrelevant information smushed into the same paragraph for students to decode and filter out the necessary information.

    To tell you the truth, I am not sure taht the implementation of writing activities would make students take an active role in education and become responsible for their learning. I am more into the philosophy that if a student is not mentally and physically prepared to engage him/her self in the classroom activities, then no amount of extrinsic motivation will get that child to actively engage in the material.
    However, I do see how some sorts of activities such as RAFTS allow students to take a more active role in the mathematics curriculum. I think that RAFTS and games make things more exciting for students which makes it easier for students to take on responsiblity for learning. I always find myself more likely to learn if I am enjoying the experience and I am interested in the subject. The same definitely goes for my students.
    If we elaborate on the rafts themselves, just look at the possibilities for student engagement. If they are offered a variety of different options for a raft, or are allowed to create one of their own, then students are free to have fun with the subject matter while also trying to connect the materials to their story.

  3. It’s interesting to see how writing has changed in time. When I was in high school and even college, writing was an unknown word in my math classes. However, I feel that a push for literacy has changed this greatly. Learning logs are used very often. I even use them in our math programs at Sylvan. It’s a great way for students to get their ideas own using words. This reinforces writing within different content areas. Although, it might be difficult to incorporate writing regularly, it can still be done every now and again. As far as science, writing could very easily be incorporated in the classroom. Lab write-ups, short answer questions, and explanations could be used in science classes. I think science teachers use more writing in their classrooms then they realize.
    The stated quote is very interesting. If students are brought up learning that reading and writing are incorporated into every subject, they will be more willing to write in math or science class. If students are in this mindset, we will be less like to hear “We shouldn’t have to read, it’s math class.” I think as teachers we need to let go of “content teaching.” Math teachers are math teachers, but they still have enough training and education to implement reading and writing. Math teachers don’t need to be “literacy teachers”, but it would still be beneficial and helpful for students to need to read and write in subjects other than English.
    As an elementary teacher, this isn’t a huge issue for me. I will be implementing every subject and content into my classroom. Although, I can sympathize with content teachers, that it may not come easy to them. My advice to them is to use their resources. Go to English teachers, Internet, and libraries for ideas.

  4. Jessica spoke about being an elementary teacher and implementing every subject and content in her classroom, which I see as true, because it is easy to find math in many different types of lessons, even in during reading, but I think back to my experience with teaching math and I do not recall using much literacy at all. I know that we required students to “explain how they got their answer” and most of the time we got blank stares and blank papers. I think that this class has opened my world to new possibilities for incorporating literacy into math and I am sure my students will benefit from this. The RAFTS are an awesome tool that I have never heard of before, and I will definitely incorporate into my repertoire. I also agree with Mike though, that a student must have some motivation for learning, otherwise we can do all the “entertaining” in the world and we may never get through to them.

  5. The trepidation of writing happens long before students have entered high school. While I can certainly understand where Jessica is coming from when saying that if writing is incorporated into every subject area there will no longer be a horrific cry of “I am not writing here, this is MATH!” This familiar plead will continue to resonate in many classrooms as long as writing is presented in a way where the students are not excited about writing. As many of as have previously reflected, we have come to the conclusion that writing has come a long way. We no longer need to make writing simply a formality that students have to complete and ultimately put little to no effort into (because quite frankly they just don’t care about the writing you have assigned). When Wendy showed us a class that was regularly using the luck of the draw method in their blogs to reflect daily on their math learning in the classroom, you looked at a group of students that were putting forth tremendous effort. They were actually trying to outdo each other in order to have the most complete reflection possible. Now if we keep that thought in mind and begin to reflect on our own experience in writing we might see an important connection. If you think back to the moment that you started to despise writing (whatever age that might have happened- for some of you it was very young!) the reason that you were turned off by the experience was not because you were “forced” to write during science or math class but because the type of writing you were asked to do was not appealing. Let me give you an example. Last year I was conferencing with a parent who had a very high achieving child (as she put it gifted) but confessed to me that she was very concerned about his writing. She disclosed something I had already detected, that her son hated to write and therefore did not produce quality writing like she would expect a child like him should be doing. At fourth grade this child was already coming to me with a mindset that writing was not for him. By looking at his writing he had the tools inside him to write- he knew how to capitalize, punctuate and even use quotes but his writing was emotionless it did not reflect his wonderful wealth of knowledge and natural connections that he made effortlessly in our classroom discussions. I taught writing using the 6+1 Traits of Writing (and if you are not familiar with this I would strongly suggest looking into this program) this program focuses on six characteristics of writing, ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency and conventions. Each writing block we focused in on one of those traits in a fun and very engaging manner which made possible for every writer to gain tools which made them feel like successful writers. Writing in the content area should be creative like RAFTS, journals, and non-traditional methods (brochures, advertisements, cartoons, etc.) anything that will inspire you as a teacher and your students. His writing changed from a lackluster paragraph to a thought provoking text which maintained your interest until the well articulated conclusion. The focused skill writing in language arts built his confidence. He actually saw himself as a writer! When it was time to write in science class he no longer balked at the idea but instead rolled up his sleeves, put on his thinking cap and used the writing strategies he had learned in language arts. He developed his writing by tapping into his tremendous bank of science knowledge to really get into the idea of pretending he was a butterfly giving tips to a group of caterpillars that were about to undergo metamorphosis. What I am trying to say is that if you give students the tools that make them confident writers and provide writing experiences that excite them, the results are kids that are actively taking a role in the classroom activities. You will see a self-proclaimed non-writer turn into a writer who is ecstatic to read their writing to other students in order to “show off” their accomplishments or have a student who is begging for their turn to be the blog reflector so that they can put their personal flair to the test. Writing is like reading, a student that is reluctant needs to be given an opportunity to feel enthusiastic about their learning. If students are inspired they become responsible for their learning and actually raise the bar on our expectations. Can we blame the students for begrudging us for assigning them something we think is boring ourselves? I never considered myself a writer, until I was “forced” to teach it. I had to find writing strategies to teach that I could use myself and give writing experiences that made me eager to write (because after all I would be modeling the same type of writing they were expected to do). Now during a modeled or shared writing experience, I am excited to get out my journal and incorporate all the content knowledge I can and write something that would even make an author proud!

  6. Writing is like pulling teeth in my classroom. Students don’t relate the skills for writing an essay or report to their chemistry course. Students are always asked to write in my classroom because they are required to write-up lab reports for the state and Greece Central makes it even more specific than what the state is looking for. After grading the Regents Chemistry exam this year I have noticed that proper writing skills are becoming more and more important. Students didn’t even form sentences correctly in their extended response answers. One student wrote what seemed to be a palindrome.

    The elements can be determined on the stars by their spectra. The spectra seen on the stars can determine the elements on them.

    Now these are not the students exact words but close enough. Can you guess what the question was? It’s easy, that’s all the student put in his answer, “How can the elements on the surface of a star be determined using bright line spectra?” And wouldn’t you know, the students had to read a paragraph about it before answering the question. I completely agree with the statement about students taking part in their own learning, the difficulty comes in accomplishing that. One thing I have noticed with my students is that they do not know how to organize their ideas into paragraphs. For labs students are required to write CEI conclusions (claim, evidence, interpretation). They write them all the time in English and Social Studies but some how they do not know how to do this in chemistry. One thing that I think will help is the QAD post reading strategy. If teachers can make the writing process more clear for students I think that the students will start “taking an active role in classroom activities, and assuming responsibilities for their education.”

  7. Writing in science and math? While lab reports were quite common in the science classrooms writing in math was unheard of.

    Literacy is a growing concern and component of education today. I believe that teachers at the elementary level have begun to immerse their students in the concept of literacy in all content areas. The earlier students see the relevance and consistency of writing in the content areas will produce great benefits in the years to come.

    Currently I have students at the high school level that moan and groan when it comes to writing a single sentence for an answer to a problem. Their thoughts are “This is Math class, not English class”.

    I am very excited to take back to school in September all of the strategies we have learned. I definitely think writing needs to be more evident in my own classroom – RAFTs are a great idea. I would like to try this strategy next year. Having students write down their thoughts or concerns in a journal would even help us as teachers identify where a student is struggling or excelling. The more creative the writing activity is the more our students will be engaged and willing to participate.

    How many of us were thrilled by the fact that blogging would replace 3-4 papers for this class? I know I was! The same goes for our students.

  8. After discussing writing strategies in class on Saturday, I felt that I really need to incorporate more creative writing opportunities in my math classroom. During my student teaching,in a sixth grade math classroom, I had my students create a fictional math character based on geometry terms we were studying and write a story on them. I was so impressed by the creativity and connections that the students were making. In addition to the stories they made, I had them draw pictures to support the writing. It was amazing to see how some students really came out of their shell. They created some wonderful stories and drawings while enhancing the math vocabulary and concepts. I plan to use the R.A.F.T writing activity in my classroom next year. I really think my kids need to see the connections between math and the world around them as well as the literacy involved! It’s been to long that students look at math as this boring subject that has nothing to do with anything!

  9. While traditionally writing in science has taken the form of lab reports and informational papers, I believe that fact based creative writing is a form that must be implemented more frequently to make use of the upper two levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. Research has shown that when we synthesize and/or evaluate, deeper understanding is the result. This philosophy is a direct extension of the statement by Billmeyer & Barton (1998), “Students learn best by becoming a part of their own learning, taking an active role in classroom activities, and assuming responsibilities for their education.” If students are given creative scenarios in which to use their content knowledge they are more likely to take an active role and responsibility for their education. If I’m not mistaken this is a form of inquiry founded in literacy, but framed in a science environment. The first example that comes to mind is RAFTS. This strategy allows the student flexibility in their mode of expression, but with defined parameters and expectations. We as teachers need to create exciting, varied scenarios to allow our students to work through their newly acquired and existing knowledge and concepts.
    When we are put into disparate educational situations (such as, fact based creative writing), cognitive dissonance is created. This dissonance causes reevaluation, reorganization, and ultimately a deeper understanding of the content. I believe that writing is just as important to success in science as it is in any other subject matter. We must begin in the elementary grades and continually challenge our students throughout their academic careers. The goal of science education is to produce future citizens that are able to think for themselves, be critical of new ideas and research, make sense of the natural world and produce a new generation of scientists. Content writing is a necessary component to this end.

  10. I have a few ideas that immediately come to mind. First, I recall watching a video clip of an experienced and successful mathematics teacher who, after leading an inquiry based lesson, asked the class to pause and to write quietly for 5 minutes in their learning logs. In this way, students took time to put their ideas together, to connect new ideas with background knowledge. The excerpts from students’ logs clearly demonstrated deep understanding. At the very least, this is how I plan to use writing in my class.
    Second, my own educational experiences support this learning log idea. Given time after class, it has always helped me to rewrite or reorganize my notes. This way, I reorganize the new concepts presented into what I already know. I can highlight areas that remain ‘fuzzy’, connect with other experiences, and develop insights. All of this also aligns with what I have learned about the function of our brains. Specifically, journaling seems to provide an opportunity to put a second coat of myelin on the neurological pathway created by a lesson. This is myelination; the ‘process during which neurons and dendrites become coated with a fatty substance(myelin) to enable neural impulses to travel faster.” (Taken from highered.mcgraw-hill.com/sites/0072322357/student_view0/chapter2/glossary.html )
    Lastly, whenever I think about student writing in math and science class, I am reminded of a chapter on Isaac Newton in Five Equations That Changed the World by Michael Guillen. Isaac Newton spent hours each day observing the natural world. He “noticed rainbows always came in the same colors, Venus always moved faster than Jupiter across the night sky, and children playing ring-a-ring o’roses invariably leaned a bit backward, as if they were being nudged by some invisible force.”(p 17) Newton logged his insights, his questions and his observations. “Newton purchased a small notebook……his mind would remain on natural philosophy, which required all its students to keep a careful journal of their theories and observations.” (p20) During his years at university, “his small notebooks, which he carried with him everywhere, came to be filled with the observations and queries of his powerful concentration and wide-ranging curiosity. ‘Of Light and Color,’ ‘Of Gravity,’ ‘Of God’ – these were more than mere headings in this queer young man’s present investigations, they were glimpses at the voracious appetite of a gifted mind.”(p23). “While crickets chirped and frogs croaked in a nearby pond, the young man began to jot down certain ideas and calculations that would one day lead him to formulate his extraordinary equation of universal gravitation.” (p 25) To me, this story of Isaac Newton represents the power of learning logs.

  11. A few months ago, my high school junior sister was complaining about having to write paragraphs in math. My mother was agreeing with her, saying how ridiculous it was. And years ago, I would have agreed, but I wasn’t so sure anymore. After being in this literacy class, I definitely do not agree.
    I think the biggest issue with math and writing stems from the fact that symbols are used for representing words and phrases, leaving people to assume then that no words are needed. Also, most people see math as being only numbers, not the explanations or the reasoning behind it.
    In my own experience as a student, I often tried to write out in paragraph form methods for solving problems so that I could remember how to do it in the future. Most of the time though, I only wrote large confusing paragraphs that offered no help later on.
    If we can teach students to write in math, especially using unique methods like RAFT, students will not only be better writers, they will communicate better on all levels. The unique stlye of strategies such as RAFT will also help students to better remember and internalize the lessons. I was pretty skeptical about RAFT when we first talked about it, but after doing the RAFT assignment, I think it could be a lot of fun and educational.
    The more students involve math into their lives, the more natural it becomes. And the more natural math is for them, the easier and faster it will be for them to learn. And thanks to Wendy’s husband, we know have more dynamic methods for writing, even catering to those who are more audio than visual learners. Thanks!

  12. I’d have to say that I agree with the quote about students learning best when they become a part of their own learning, and taking on an active role in classroom activities. Wouldn’t it be great if all students had that attitude? I am thinking of at least 2 of my students who must say “I’m bored” many times throughout the day. There are some children who need to be entertained to learn. They also feel that it’s my job to do all the entertaining. Even if I have a fun, active, and engaging lesson, there are times when you can’t reach these certain students. It can be very frustrating. Thankfully, for every 3 that you can’t reach, you can count on reaching at least 9 or 10 others.
    I am lucky that in being an elementary school teacher, there are many opportuniies for writing. The students have journals for all of the subjects, and are encouraged to take notes and make reflections. I am psyched to be using Interactive Notebooks in my Science and Social Studies classes next year. As you will see from our presentation tomorrow nite, they are an invaluable tool to help students be more organized and make sense of their learning.

  13. I wanted to add to the discussion by focusing on one particular aspect of writing in the content areas that I have learned more about recently – science notebooks. I had the opportunity to attend the National Science Teachers Association conference in April. One of the sessions I attended was an all day event titled “Science Assessment: Research and Practical Approaches”. One of the breakout sessions was Using Science Notebooks as an Informal Assessment Tool.
    The key speaker in that session was Dr. Michael Klentschy, Superintendent of the El Centro, California Elementary School District, which has implemented a very successful elementary science curriculum called Valle Imperial Project in Science. This program is inquiry based and Dr. Klentschy provided a great overview and links to useful information for teachers.
    The focus of the discussion was, as the session title indicates, directed towards the use of notebooks as a tool for assessment, in addition to their use as a tool for learning. One piece of useful information referenced comes from a journal article that provides a framework for science notebooks as used in their curriculum. A more sophisticated discussion of science and literacy is found in a chapter from the book Crossing Borders in Literacy and Science Instruction. The particular chapter is titled Students’ Science Notebooks and the Inquiry Process – sounds like it might be applicable to the MST program, doesn’t it?
    Here’s a key quote (originally from another book on science and literacy that is an excellent resource) from that chapter that gets to the root of the issue:

    …many school districts, under pressure from policymakers to create and comply with standards, assessment goals, and accountability systems for language arts and mathematics, are shrinking that portion of the school day devoted to science education and are moving away from using writing as a way of learning. One way educators may be able to combat this trend is by linking science with literacy. A growing number of science educators believe that by making science a key element in strengthening literacy skills, teachers can demonstrate that a strong program of science instruction can play an important role in improving achievement in literacy.

    Shrinking the time devoted to science doesn’t seem like the way to improve the worldwide standing of the United States in science literacy, so it sure seems like making science do double duty with literacy is the way to go.
    Science notebooks, structured and guided in the right way, can be very effective in facilitating students’ active participation in their own learning. It also allows them to be accountable for their education – the notebook is their own responsibility and contains their own data, questions, thoughts, meaning and plans. In my own classroom, I hope to use notebooks of this type as an effective tool to assist students’ learning and assess their achievement.

  14. Well it sounds like we are all on the same page that writing in math and science has been nearly unheard of in the past. I also agree that it is becoming much more important both for individual understanding of the material as well as the students individual literacy ability.
    In the science classroom the writing does primarily come from lab reports as well as short answer problems on tests. I think that this is very important because if a student is going to pursue a career in the scientific field, then they must understand what needs to be included in a formal lab report. They also must understand the concept behind conclusions, how they are drawn from the data and they summarize the information gained from the experiment based on the hypothesis.
    In addition to the lab reports, I am a strong advocate for inserting projects into the curriculum throughout each unit. The project varies throughout the year, a brochure, board game, holding a debate, or school board meeting, etc. This incorporates literacy in the content area because the students must convey the material in a variety of methods.
    Literacy, especially in the form of writing, is a necessary skill for survival in the outside world. We need to teach our students how to put their thoughts in writing in order to share them with others.

  15. Kelsey hit the head on the nail when she said
    “What I am trying to say is that if you give students the tools that make them confident writers and provide writing experiences that excite them, the results are kids that are actively taking a role in the classroom activities.”

    We need to be modeling writing in ALL content areas in order for students to see the connections between math/science and writing. If we are not using them in our instruction, how can we be upset when students lack the excitement to write? By using fun and engaging writing activities (Woo Hoo RAFTS), we are demonstrating the importance of writing in the content areas. Think about it…we all are thinking but what about the test? What about the regents?…what about getting it all done? If we are ALL modeling and incorporating the reading/writing strategies we have talked about in this class, won’t we have the time to do all this and prepare our kids the best we can? If we use all of these great ideas on an ongoing basis, we will help students take an active role in their education because they will be taking part in the education more so than they ever have.

  16. Math has never had much writing except for proofs for me as many other class mates have said. My oldest is in seventh grade and she has had to do a great deal of writing for mathematical answers. I have mixed opinions with writing sentences in math. For me math is a picture and not feeling like I am a good writer it undermines my learning. When what I need to do is learn the math a concept. I realize there are different opinions on this. The math program Investigations, which I think is wonderful, has students come up with answer and then explain the answer. I have noticed the writing causes a lot of frustration for students. Which brings up the question are students supposed to write at frustration level if they are not to read at frustration.
    Science has always had its share of writing from labs to science reports. It would be interesting if teachers collaborated on writing reports. So the kids could have expertise from a science specialist and a language arts specialist. It would be nice to see more integration in different subjects. I do think writing is important, it is just some of our brains are great at language arts and other are great at mathematics and it would be nice if society was more accepting rather than always finding fault. Because taking an active role in learning can also take place verbally, artistically or a project that gets the point across just as much as writing. People have to remember the first writing was pictographs. I think the interactive piece most teachers do today really does get kids participating.
    I would not grade students writing in math or science because they will shut down when you want the ideas to flow. My oldest daughter’s first grade teacher was very careful with this. And my daughter writes willingly, teachers have been very critical of my writing which makes writing horrible for me to do. I am sorry I have a different opinion.

  17. Speaking from the math perspective, writing did not exist in classrooms when I was in school. The only writing that could qualify as a writing activity, would be writing a complete sentence when you find your solution. I personally thought that was a test taking strategy.
    I believe writing in math class is important after witnessing how much trouble I personally had with the RAFT activity. I considered myself an effective writer in English class, but found applying those skills in math difficult. I pretty much shut down when I was faced with having to come up with creative ideas to write about in the math classroom. The idea was foreign to me. When I finally started to get a vision of how this would look in the classroom, ideas started to come, but still needed work and tweaking.
    This hiccup in my own literacy strategies made me wonder, whether I had taken enough part of my own learning during my math instruction as a student.
    With the fast paced math classroom, students have barely enough time to think while taking tests and preparing for a big exam, than to sit down and write. Imagine when they do take the time to sit down and write all of the brainstorming, constructing of meaning, and perfecting of words that would occur. It would be an opportunity lost if we did not try to grasp that time to get our students to do just that. Having students sit down and envelop themselves in the math concept, through for instance a RAFT activity, would allow them to become a part of their own learning in the math classroom.

  18. When I was in high school, I remember doing a great deal of writing in my science classes. The types of writing included summaries of texts, lab reports, essay questions, research papers, and journaling. However, I distinctly remember not enjoying these writing activities. It never seemed like writing was any fun and definitely something to be dreaded. Throughout college, I was exposed to more writing and found that once my skills began to improve, writing became easier and a useful tool for communication.
    I’m not sure if I did any writing in math class. Looking back, I wish that my teachers had asked for writing samples because if I had to explain the mathematical process, I would have understood it better. Kelsey raised a good point that many students may not see the application of writing in a math class. I agree that if the writing assignments were stimulating and meaningful, they would be very beneficial to students. I think the students need to see the application of the writing assignment in order to see it’s worth. If they see the assignment as valuable, there will be less resentment and annoyance in having to write. This relates to the quote because the students need to feel connected to their learning in order to produce deep understanding.
    I agree with Mike that students learn best when they are interested in the subject. Therefore, R.A.F.T.S. are an excellent tool in stimulating interest in a writing assignment. By differentiating the topics, the students are able to write about a topic that is important or interesting to them. When the student has a choice, they have a vested interest in the product that they produce. This encourages the student to take an active role in their writing and encourages dynamic learning.
    I think that journaling is also a great way for students to write about science or math. When students take the time to reflect on their learning through writing, they gain a better understanding of the content and are able to identify areas of confusion. I think this type of reflective process really places the responsibility in the student’s hands. They are responsible for exploring their own learning, which can be brought back into the classroom. I think it is important to provide a variety of writing strategies in the classroom, so that students are exposed to different types of writing styles. By improving writing skills and creating meaningful writing assignments, there is a greater chance that students will be engaged in the writing process.

  19. I have to agree with Greg, when I was in school, science writing was all about lab reports. It was very structured as to how the teacher wanted it set up. Including Assignment, method, experiments, results, and conclusion. It was never like english class where you had to write an essay or a short response to a book that you have read.
    From all of the great strategies that I have learned these past four weeks, I have been given great tools to use in a science classroom. I think my favorite is the R.A.F.T.S. What a great tool to promote writing activities in a science class. It gives the students a break from the boring lab write-ups that they have to do all the time. It also is a great tool to assess where they are in their learning.
    “Students learn best by becoming a part of their own learning, taking an active role in classroom activities, and assuming responsibilities for their education.” (Billmeyer & Barton, 1998)
    When you have students that are devoted to their work and take an active role in their classroom, it is amazing how much responsibility they will take on for their education. You have to give students an opportunity to do this though. As a teacher, you have to provide your students with activities that keep them engaged and wanting more from the lessons. This is where they start to take responsibility for their own education. If you make it fun for them and keep them wanting more, then as a student, they will do the work, learn how to understand what they are learning, and be able to come back to it without hesitation. Writing in any aspect of a childs education is important, even in science and math class.

  20. I never remember doing any type of reading or writing in math class. It was all about numbers. I might have to whip up a couple of proofs now and then, but overall it seemed like that was something for another class. I remember vividly math teacher spelling something wrong on the board and stating that “this isn’t English class.” I liked that philosphy back then because I wanted no part of English outside of the English class. I became fairly proficient in the area of literacy anyway, but there are some students that need to have literacy be a focus in every class. I think that assigning the students to write a journal could be a very positive thing. It is just another part of the day where they are focusing of literacy and organizing their thoughts. Anticipation guides are another activity where students are practicing literacy, and don’t even know it. There are many effective literary activities that could be put to good use in a math class.

  21. There are so many great blogs on this subject. A reoccurring theme is that writing was very limited in science i.e. labs but no writing is done in math. There is still the idea that math is numbers and that is it. Even teachers today still view it that way. I would have thought of it that way had it not been for this class opening up a door to literacy. Being able to see that even in subjects like math and science there is literacy and ways to apply it will take some time to change students and teachers perspectives.
    ‘How would the implementation of writing activities in your classroom connect with the following quote?
    Students learn best by becoming a part of their own learning, taking an active role in classroom activities, and assuming responsibilities for their education. (Billmeyer & Barton, 1998) ‘
    This was the question posed at the beginning of the blog. There are many writing activities that we have learned to use. As my classmates have mentioned RAFTS are excellent ways of answering the main question. It is a creative and exciting way to invoke student learning and thinking. With RAFTS you allow students to pick their own topic (choice) and explain the concept in ways that they may have never thought of before. I am learning many new techniques and strategies in this class and RAFTS really strike the cord of imagination. I personal believe that when students can use their imagination they are apt to learn so much more. It goes back to the quote ‘students learn best by becoming a part of their own learning’. When students are allowed to elaborate in a safe constructive way, in the way that they want to express themselves, they will gain and retain more knowledge. As we learned today in chapter 7 there are 5 traits for a successful classroom. Trust in the teacher and taking risks; Students have choice; Connection to real life; Organization and groups; and Reading aloud good articles. Each one of these has a unique place in the classroom. When you empower students and give them the choice to partake in their learning they will excel.

  22. Writing in Math and Science is deserved of attention in the progressive classroom. As mentioned by many before me, in the Science classroom, writing has been for reports or taking notes. I do not personally recall having to do any writing what so ever for Math courses though.

    I love to write and incorporate much of it in my classroom. I have the students take notes, keep journals, lab notebooks, explore and write about scientists, and write lab reports.

    I tell my students about the importance of writing in the sciences. I start out on the first day telling them about the scientific method. They learn that the scientist makes an observation, then sets up an experiment, and collects data. The important part comes next. They take this information and they analyze it and come up with some sort of conclusion. Whether they have something ground breaking or not is irrelevant. The main point is that they SHARE what they have found with the public at large. This enables the public to benefit from the information and for other scientists to continually experiment and shape a theory about the way something works.

    Writing has a place in every classroom. For science and math, students can really utilize the benefits and connect to the subject by writing about their progress through the course, or solving problems and describing how they did it or why it worked. This not only engages them, but it also helps them learn to be better communicators.

  23. I read the introduction to this blog a few days before actually reading the entries and generating my own response, to keep my response from being biased. After doing so, I can honestly say that my un-biased thoughts thoroughly agree with at least a couple main themes that kept surfacing in the responses. The first theme that I agree with is that I had no writing to do in math, and primarily an occasional lab report for science class. At the time that seemed very appropriate. However, after learning more about literacy and considering the thought process that writing requires, I believe that writing has a definite place in the math and science classroom. The reason that I feel writing is important in virtually any subject is something Greg summed up nicely when he stated that “Puting ideas to writing really forces you to thoroughly organize your thoughts and ideas into a structured format.” It certainly is difficult, if not impossible, to write about something without thinking about it in some degree of detail first.
    The second reoccurring comment that I agree with is the use of RAFTS. This course is the first in which I have used RAFTS, and I think they are a great tool, that can be designed in an interesting manner for the students to use. I believe that RAFTS are a great strategy that can help teachers to effectively assess student learning.

  24. I am a firm believer in if you can write it and make it your own you can understand it. I think that writing in the content areas is imperative. In science there has always been an overload of multiple choice questions used on regent exams and some short answer but in my opinion it should be the other way around. Many times students can explain something in their own words better than they can choose the best answer from a group of 4 or 5. I think the only way to truly assess a students understanding is to understand there thinking process marking A,B,C, or D does not do that. When students write out their thinking as to why the answer they chose to a question is correct it is easy to follow their thinking both for the teacher and the student. Writing allows the student to put their thoughts down on paper and organize them which in turn helps them to make the knowledge their own. Writing allows students to take an active role in learning by not just reading a text but reading it, thinking about it and then through their writing reflecting on it. One activity that I will be sure to incorporate in my classroom will be reflective journals. I want my students to be able to sit down for five minutes at the end of each class and just write, anything they want to be reflective about biology class. I think many times students just rush from class to class without taking anytime to sit for a second and let all they had been doing for the hour to settle and reflect on it. By sitting down and just write for five minutes straight about the class students will internalize and really let everything that they did in class settle. Seeing their feelings and what thy just did in class on paper will make the experience that much more enriched. I really like what Jessica said about students being brought up to believe that reading and writing are incorporated into every subject they will be more willing to write in math and science class. I believe this is absolutely true many times students will not take writing seriously in the math and sciences because they don’t take it as a true form of language arts, and who are those science and math teachers kidding they aren’t good at reading and writing we can pull a fast one over on them and just be lazy about this writing assignment because this is not English class. I absolutely believe that students should be brought up to appreciate reading and writing in all content areas us adolescent teachers may see a greater appreciation for both and major change in our students attitudes when we give them reading and writing assignments.

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  26. I’m not sure where you’re getting your info, but good topic.
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  27. Piece of writing writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with afterward you can write or else it is complicated to write.


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