Writing an Abstract

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SWBAT explain the key components of an abstract and develop an abstract for their final science fair research paper.

Big Idea

This lesson introduces students to the purpose and development of an abstract.


5 minutes

In the lesson prior to this, Drawing Conclusions with CER the students practiced creating a Claims Evidence Reasoning statement.  Students enter the room and respond to the prompt:

Please take out your CER from yesterday and trade with a neighbor.  Highlight the claim in red, the evidence in blue, and the reasoning in yellow.  

Some of the students have written their CER on notebook paper, while other students have typed theirs on Chromebooks.  Either way, they trade CERs and highlight each others' on the computer or with markers.  If students are unable to identify any part of the CER, I tell them to talk with the author to discuss the elements they could identify and those they could not.  I move through the room checking to see that students have completed the activity and to monitor the students' discussions.

In this student CER discussion one student is explaining that she does not see the claim specifically made in one statement, though it is incorporated throughout the other student's writing.


15 minutes

I tell students that we will be working on another section of their final paper, the abstract.  I have them take out their Chromebooks and sign into classroom.google.com to open the writing an abstract guidelines. I explain that an abstract provides a reader with a preview of the statement and I show the students an example of an abstract from a paper we referred to when learning about 3D printing.

I review the guidelines section by section with the students. We discuss how to begin the abstract and the students brainstorm possible introductions.  We then review the procedures section in which the students need to provide a summary of how they completed their experiment.  I explain that the students also need to include data in their abstract.  I tell the students that the conclusion of their abstract is important because this is where they will take what they have learned and use broader scientific principles to explain the manner in which their experiment is applicable to the readers of their paper.

I then share abstract examples from scholarly journals with the students.  I read the abstracts aloud as I display them on the SMARTBoard and then ask the students to identify the different elements of the abstract.  After that I share some student abstract examples, to give the students a better idea of my expectations for their work.

During the lesson, my students request that I create a video demonstrating how to use the word count feature on Google Docs and post it to classroom.google.com for them to reference later.  This is the video I created for them.


15 minutes

After answering any remaining student questions, I have the students begin work on their abstracts.  The students who have partners for the science fair are able to work with their partner during this time.  

While the students work, I meet with each individual student about their CER which will serve as their conclusion in the final science fair paper.  I ask the students to point out their claim, their evidence, and their reasoning.  For the most part, the students need to strengthen the evidence sections by adding more detailed information and exact data from their experiment.  During this meeting, I also briefly review the abstract with the students and answer any individual questions the students have.

Once I have met with each of the students, I circulate through the room to make sure the students are on task and that they understand what they need to do for the abstract.

Writing their abstracts addresses NGSS SP8 as the students are communicating their analysis of the data they collected.  This writing process also addresses CCSS WHST.6-8.1.d, WHST.6-8.2, and WHST.6-8.4 as students develop a formal style and write about their experiments.

Wrap up

5 minutes

Near the end of class, I ask the students to trade abstracts with a neighbor and review the information in order to provide feedback.  Even though not all of the students have completely finished the abstract, receiving feedback from their peers will help them to improve their final paper.  Reading someone else's abstract may also provide them with new ideas and insights into their own writing.