Reflection: Writing Across the Disciplines What Is a Field Journal? - Section 3: Wrap-up


First, it is important to set up student thinking before giving them their task.  I ask students to envision their stereotypical bird (I give them a few moments to get this picture firmly in place).  I then ask the class to state all the birds they can think of that, while technically birds, don't really fit in with the stereotype.  They state penguins, ostrich, chickens, flamingos, and peacocks and a few others.  Then I have them list the characteristics that relate to all birds.  

The typical class list was:

  • thin, hollow bones
  • feathers
  • tail
  • 2 legs
  • lay eggs
  • toe nails/claws/talons
  • beak
  • wings
  • land/water living
  • nostrils

At this point in planning I was debating between having students create a Venn diagram of birds/nonbirds or write a paragraph answering the question "What is a bird?" using their characteristic list to assist them with developing and supporting their answer.  I think both have value and I encourage you to come to your own conclusion.  I decided on the paragraph format as it will provide students with more formal writing practice and supports the English teachers on my team and provides strong practice with SP7 Engaging in Argument from Evidence. 

  Deciding on the Assignment
  Writing Across the Disciplines: Deciding on the Assignment
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What Is a Field Journal?

Unit 3: Field Journals
Lesson 1 of 5

Objective: SWBAT identify the components of scientific journal entries and apply descriptive writing to their entries.

Big Idea: Students come to understand how important strong, descriptive writing is in science journals.

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Science, classification, Analyzing and interpreting data
  45 minutes
field journal
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