Writer’s Block

I mean this both figuratively and literally. This year we do not have a formal block of time set aside just for writing. Instead, it is an expectation that writing should now be integrated throughout the day. I will really have to focus on disciplinary literacy to integrate writing throughout the day. This worries me that my students might experience some writer’s block with these new types of writing and makes me question if my students are getting enough writing instruction throughout the day.  

On our schedule, I have a 45 minute block for “writing/science.” We are moving to science journaling. This is new this year, and I have received very little training so far on how to truly integrate writing and science. We will be attending more professional development throughout the year on science journaling, but so far I have gathered that science journaling is NOT:

-the scientific method

-listing steps, procedures, materials

Instead, science journaling should look like the following:

science-notebook

Our first professional development on science journaling really focused on Claims, Evidence, and Reasoning (CER). This helps move traditional science writing away from the scientific method and focus more on what the student learned and understands. There are lots of free CER organizers available for all grade levels on Teachers Pay Teachers. Example:

cer

My county/school recently purchased Page Keeley’s (Twitter: @CTSKeeley) Uncovering Student Thinking in Science books. They provide background information and common misconceptions for teachers teaching science. They also provide “probes,” which have a huge writing component for students. I used a couple last year, and I really liked that they showed my students’ understanding. I hope to use more this year, so my students and I both get more comfortable with this type of writing. Example:

keeley-probes

My school has been integrating writing heavily in language arts since our school started using the mCLASS assessments in 2013. mCLASS is a reading assessment that uses a running record and comprehension questions to measure a child’s reading level. Beginning in first grade, students are expected to answer both oral and written comprehension questions. We found that students could read and comprehend on a much higher level than they could answer the written questions. The written questions often held students back. Therefore, we have integrated many more reader responses into our reading workshop. We have found that when students can answer written comprehension questions and support their answers with details from the text, then a true independent level can be found. However, we need to be more creative about how we are integrating writing and not just rely on reader responses. This is one of my goals this year.

We also implemented an early algebra math program called Project LEAP in the 2014-2015 school year. The lessons integrate a good amount of writing and require students to develop their own “conjectures” for their findings in math. The vocabulary and writing was quite difficult for my students at first, but through practice and exposure they became more comfortable. For example, one of the first lessons requires students to decide what makes numbers even or odd and develop a conjecture to explain their findings. The writing element really shows me which students can explain and prove their understandings. Example:

leap

How do you use disciplinary literacy and integrate writing throughout your school day? Is it okay that I don’t have a “writer’s block” in my schedule and an opportunity for Lucy Calkins? Do you find you are still able to meet the all of the Common Core Writing Standards without a writing block?

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