Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Looking Closely: Observing, Labeling and Listing Like Scientists

This writing unit is always my favorite to teach.  It's so hands-on, and you get to teach pretty cool stuff about science while simultaneously teaching about writing.  

To kick off the unit,  I like to bring a collection of materials for students to observe, draw and write about on the same topic.  That way, I can turn the writing into a class book for children to read again and again!  It can be a collection of things you already have -- coins, stamps, rocks, etc.  If you don't have any collections of unique items,  you can show the students a video, such as a Planet Earth clip, and have them all draw, label and write about what they noticed.   Each student will pick up on different things, but it still allows you to make a class book with the results.  I've found, at least for me, it's best if each student has his/her own object if you're writing about something physical (versus something on a movie clip).   Pass out magnifying glasses and really let them EXPLORE!

You can also have students go on a hunt for things they can collect and write about -- leaves, rocks, BUGS(?) -- or maybe you want students to bring a specific item from home to write about.  Everyone could bring a seed from a fruit they've eaten, a stuffed animal, a stick they picked up in the backyard, etc.  

Obviously I'm a fan of everyone writing about the same topic (just in the beginning of the unit) to really bulk up on the class books.  It also makes it easier for you when conferencing with the kiddos -- you already know what they're meant to be writing about, and it helps the ones who get stuck when thinking of an idea.

This year, I brought my rock collection and some coral I collected on various beaches during summer vacation.  

This was my example from a previous year that I used again to show the kids.  If you're worried about my spelling, please see my post on phonetic spelling

We drew, labeled and listed some description words.  After, we tried to use one or two of those words in a complete sentence.

I made the kids a simple anchor chart to keep in their writing folders as a reminder of what steps to take:

Teachers, you can find a full-size download available at TpT by clicking the image above.   Parents, if you did not get a copy of this at Parent Learning Night and would like a hard copy, please let me know and I'll send one in your child's binder!

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