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5 Strategies to Increase Writing in the Science Classroom

Writing in the science classroom can be a daunting task!

I recently did a poll on my InstaStories asking teachers “How often do you write in science class?”

Most responses looked a lot like:

  • “I can’t remember the last time we wrote.”
  • “Not enough” 
  • “Once a month?

I get it – it’s hard enough to find time to teach the entire curriculum in science, much less add an extra layer of writing!  Especially this year, when you may not be seeing your students every day, or only seeing them through a Google Meet. 

Writing in science is a great way to help engage students with the material and increase their comprehension.  

Here are a few quick and easy activities that you can use in class to help your students write more often  – and become more comfortable with writing in science!

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1. CLAIM, EVIDENCE, AND REASONING – aka CER

It’s no secret that I think CER (claim, evidence and reasoning) is a fantastic way to engage students in higher level thinking and writing.  

If you are new to the claim, evidence, and reasoning model, this framework encourages students to made a claim, state their evidence, and justify their reasoning.  

There are so many ways it can be used in the classroom.  

These claim, evidence, and reasoning resources will help your students master the art of CER in the science classroom!

You could use CER to reflect on a big idea in a unit:

“Which type of renewable resource has the most potential in the future?”

“Is this water sample polluted? How do you know?”

I love to use CER for lab reflections! 

Have you ever finished a lab and asked kids what they learned? How many times have you gotten a shoulder shrug??? If students aren’t making connections in the lab, then they are just playing around with some really cool stuff!

We need them to play with the really cool stuff AND make connections!!!

CER is a great way to help students to understand why they did the lab and explain what they learned.

Claim, evidence, and reasoning format gives students the opportunity to really see the connection between the data they collected and their reasoning.

Here’s a few examples:

“How does the level of activity affect the heart rate?”

“Which type of gum loses the most mass after it has been chewed?”

You can read more about using CER in the classroom in this blog post – “How to Teacher Claim, Evidence, and Reasoning Like a Pro”

Grab the Free 7-page Guide!

Let me share tips and tricks for teaching CER like a pro!

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2.  3-2-1 SUMMARY

Writing in science doesn’t always need to be a huge production!

I love this simple 3-2-1 strategy.  It’s a quick and easy way for students  to summarize what they learned.

I like to use 3-2-1 after watching a video clip or after reading an article like a current event.  

It goes like this:

  • Write 3 things you learned about this topic.
  • Write 2 things you thought were really interesting.
  • Write 1 question that you still have about the topic.  

Easy-peasy!

3.  RAFT PAPERS

If you are looking to add a little creativity to your writing in the science classroom, RAFT papers are always fun! 

RAFT stands for: 

R = role (ex: reporter, wetland)

A = audience (ex: group of students, the president)

F = format (ex: letter, poem, text)

T = topic (ex: benefits of wetlands)

Here’s an example:

Imagine that you are a wetland trying to convince a group of students that wetlands are beneficial to humans and animals.  Write a letter to these students to convince them why they should preserve the wetlands.  

4.  LETTERS

Have 5 minutes?

Here’s a writing strategy that is super quick and is a great way to assess what students learned in class!

At the end of class, ask your students to write a quick letter to an “absent” student.  In that letter, they need to tell them what they learned about in class so they don’t get behind. 

To keep it quick, I have the kids write their letter on an index card. 

Short and sweet!

5.  SNOWBALL FIGHT

If you’re feeling a little wild, snowball fights are so much fun!!!

Ask students to write 3-5 sentences to summarize what they are learning about, read, watched, etc.  

After everyone has written their summaries the fun begins! 

  1. Split students into teams on both sides of the room, wad up their paper, and yes – throw it across the room at the other team.  
  2. So here’s the cool part – students each get one of the snowballs, open it and read it.  You might even have them write a quick response….  
  3. Wad the papers back up and repeat!  

Not only are they practicing summarizing new information, but they are sharing and reading multiple summaries!  

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