Written By: Tracy Lavallee, Exemplars Science Consultant and Teacher
Science is rich with opportunities for communication. In fact, a large part of science involves students talking, writing and reading. This communication may include scientists' meetings to discuss ideas and investigations, science journals to record observations and data, or the use of trade books to help illustrate concepts. Science also lends itself to student research, especially with topics such as the solar system that tend to be less hands-on and more content based. These research-driven topics allow students to pose questions; research ideas and concepts using a variety of print and Internet-based resources; write a report, procedure or persuasive essay; utilize the writing process to edit and revise; and then present what they have learned.
When assessing students' research and writing, I use the Exemplars rubric for science content and my district's writing rubric for GUM (grammar, usage, mechanics) and organization.
In the Exemplars Science Rubric, there are two sets of criteria that can be used for assessing a piece of student writing:
- Scientific Communication/Using Data: This criterion asks students to draw conclusions, explain, use representations and notation and provide evidence.
- Scientific Concepts and Related Content: This criterion requires that students use appropriate terminology, show understanding of the content and/or concepts being researched and make connections to the principles and theories of science.
The Exemplars rubric allows me to focus on the science in my students writing, and the writing rubric allows me to focus on the process of writing.
This integration of communication and science has many benefits. For teachers, it enables us to better use our time when we make natural connections between subject areas. For students, they are able to recognize these connections and see the purpose in what and why they are learning communication skills and the application of these skills to all aspects of their learning.