Who Says You Can’t Teach Writing in Science?

I borrowed an idea from John Spencer about using a photo writing prompt to get some creative juices flowing in learners. There is a Tumblr page that has a collection of writing prompts to help start that process. Tumblr is blocked, so I hopped on to compfight.com and searched the word "quiet."

I got this image. I put it up, gave some brief instructions, and said "go."

"Do we describe the picture?"
"No."

"Should we explain it?"
"No."

"I want you to look at it, settle your head, and then just write."

"Can I write a poem?"
"Absolutely."

I'm trying to show my freshman that the world is not "right" and "wrong." There is no black and white. Each of them is a lens into the world and they need to 1) be given a chance to share that lens, and 2) know how to articulate what they are seeing.

Here are some excerpts:

I used to play in a park near my house; there was a huge (or at least it seemed huge) tree in the park with old wooden steps nailed to it, so I could climb it. I always ended up getting too scared; I would stop halfway up and come down.
I think the picture is kind of mysterious in a way, because it leaves people thinking and wondering about what it is supposed to mean or if it is even supposed to mean anything. Maybe it doesn’t have a meaning or a point. Maybe someone just wanted to take a picture.
Even though you are grown, everyone has their own place of peace, their own place to be still and quiet. This is the place they go to, to get away from the crazy lives we live and go back to those days of our childhood.

Who says you can't teach writing in science?


You can read more of the excerpts above by Laura, Dannie, and Erin.

4 thoughts on “Who Says You Can’t Teach Writing in Science?

  1. Troy Cockrum says:

    I like it. I believe no class should operate in isolation from other content.

    I get a science question about once a week and a history question nearly everyday in my Language Arts classroom. I answer as best I can and then suggest they ask their science or history teacher if they want more of an explanation. Or, we Google it. If the kids have an interest in it, we jump on the opportunity to explore just about anything. Our world is multi-disciplined and it takes multi-disciplines to understand it.

  2. Marc Seigel says:

    I understand what you are trying to do, but wouldn’t it be better if you gave them a science photo for the writing prompt. I am all about students writing more, but I want them to do it within the context of my classroom. With that said, I am stealing this idea for Friday’s DO NOW.

  3. Bethany Fillingim says:

    I am a student in Dr. Strange’s EDM310 class at the University of South Alabama. I believe that by using the photo writing prompt, it allows the students to use his/her imaginations. Creativity tends to be something that a lot of kids lack in schools, and as teachers, it is our job that we force them to step outside the box and use their imaginations.
    You are absolutely right by saying that there is no “right” or “wrong.” It is very important that students look at what they see and think about it, then write it down. Be sure that students are engaged in the learning process, as well as given the opportunity to use his/her own thoughts about what they see!

  4. Anne Bennett says:

    YES! Freeing students to try the concept of capturing their individual “flow of thought” about a neutral or familiar topic is a critical step in helping students lose their fear of using that same process as a tool when they begin working with unfamiliar concepts in a specific subject area.

    What I love about this is that it can be adapted. Students with significant expressive written language delays can practice this same concept by setting an initial goal of just loading in a list of key words that allow them to recall the thought or idea, having a thought recording partner (scribe) for the assignment or using technology to record their thought flow verbally first. Students who struggle to write often assume it is because they cannot “think”, when it is really an issue of capturing the thought or idea quickly before the it gets lost en route to the pencil or the keyboard. It might even help you to identify students with undocumented expressive language delays and help them practice thought-capturing strategies– even in Science class.

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