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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Informative Writing (In Science Class!)

Every year, students in my class wrote research papers. Some were short; some were long. But was I doing a good job of teaching informative writing? After an honest appraisal of what informative writing could be, I realized that the answer was no.

I decided to integrate expository text with my next science topic, plants. Much to my surprise, these five nonfiction text structures fit beautifully!

informative writing in science

When my list of possible writing topics was complete, I had so many great choices:
  • Description: parts of a plant, parts of a flower
  • Sequence: germination, pollination
  • Compare & Contrast: monocots/dicots, angiosperms/gymnosperms
  • Cause & Effect: results of virtually any plant experiment
  • Problem & Solution: too much or not enough water or sunlight
The authors of our science text switch text structures often, many times even from paragraph to paragraph, based on the topic. That told me that my fourth graders would benefit from writing shorter pieces, so I decided to focus on paragraphs.

The standards guided me to a clear set of criteria:

To introduce all of this to my students, I developed a PowerPoint presentation. The modeling piece surprised even me! Check out the difference between the initial piece and its polished counterpart:

Wow! I was so excited about the possibilities presented by this merger between science and writing! If it were feasible, I would have liked my students to write using all five text structures during my plant unit. But that would have been overkill. Instead, we tried only a few (and will do more with other science units). Check out our pollination writing! 

Would you like to try this activity in your class? Simply click on the stationery below to download. 

Plant Life Cycle Clip Art was created by Whimsy Workshop Teaching. This set of graphics was perfect for my worksheets, PowerPoint presentation, and bulletin boards. Check it out!