Writing a Science Paragraph from Notes

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Objective

SWBAT to use notes to write an expository paragraph

Big Idea

After students take notes, they reorganize their notes in order to support understanding.

Introduction and Modeling

5 minutes

How do students use their notes to demonstrate their knowledge to someone else. This lesson teaches students a skill that they will use repeatedly in the future. 

Students followed a procedure before this lesson to observe an organism, draw a scientific diagram and label it, read an article about it and finally take notes using a graphic organizer. In this lesson, they will use their notes to write an paragraph demonstrating their understanding as their ability to write in complete sentences. 

I start by asking students to take out their notes as I show my notes under the document camera. Students are reminded that after scientists learn or discover important information they share it with their colleagues. They do that by publishing their ideas in written form. This lesson will teach them how to use their notes to write a paragraph that other scientists can read and learn from.

Displaying a large sticky note on the white board, I began to read over my notes out loud and think aloud about what would be the most appropriate first sentence. It needs to be a sentence that introduces the reader to the topic of my paragraph. After deciding on a sentence, I write it down on the poster.

Shared Writing

10 minutes

Next it will be students' turn. After I decide on the first sentence of the paragraph and write it down, I ask them to look over their notes and think about what would make sense to go next. Students share out and I choose one student to be challenged to state the idea in a complete sentence. Once they demonstrate that they can do that, I hand them a pen and ask them to write their sentence directly after mine. I continue this process until a paragraph has been written.

In order to reinforce the strategy of using notes to write a paragraph, I ask students to identify the steps each contributor took to decide on a sentence to write. Students share things like: first you read over your notes, then you look at what you have already written, then you think about what part of your notes would make the most sense to go next, finally you plan your sentence and then write it.

Students have notes on duckweed and elodea. As a class, we just finished writing the paragraph for duckweed. Now students will use their notes to write a paragraph on elodea. 

Share Examples

5 minutes

After students have completed their paragraphs, I choose a few exemplar ones to look at as a class. They are displayed under the document camera and I read them out loud. As a class, we identify things the author has done successfully. I make sure to state that the authors' paragraph is actually in paragraph form, that although some words might be misspelled, the ones that have been given to students through a word wall or some other accessible way have been spelled correctly and the sentences are written in an order that makes sense.

I encourage students to reread their own paragraph and make sure there are no changes that need to be made before they turn it into me. When I receive them, I choose a few from high, middle, and low skilled writers. I look for the same things I asked students to look for. I also identify students that need more support in specific areas like using a word wall, using information for their notes to form complete sentences, and indenting to indicate a paragraph. I will use that information to plan whole class lessons if I notice that most students are having a specific challenge, small group lessons or which student need my attention on a one-on-one basis.