Reflection: Writing Across the Disciplines Reading To Learn: Dinosaurs Among Us - Section 2: Activity


Summarizing is a skill that is quite challenging for students and the complex vocabulary that is found in many scientific readings only makes it even more complicated.  Students must practice this skill if they are to master it, but that is not why I love having students summarize readings (it is true - I love it!)

The best thing that comes out of summarizing readings, especially when they summarize by paragraphs, is how hard they have to think about and process the information in order to find a way to state the meaning in their own words.  The act of keeping this information in their working memory for the amount of time it takes to create a translation helps students retain that information for longer periods of time (hopefully forever!).  Having students to find or create a picture that helps a reader to understand their translation takes the process one step further.  While students find this challenging, they feel a strong sense of accomplishment when they complete this task well, as you can see from their reflection statements in the wrap-up section of this lesson.

The day after assigning this, a student came up to me and said "I see what you did there, with this assignment.  I had to keep thinking and thinking about what each paragraph meant to figure out how to say it differently and I was like...I get it!"  That was awesome!  Though I typically tell students why we are doing each assignment, the fact that this student was able to have this A-ha moment makes it that much more likely that this strategy could become part of her toolbox of strategies as she moves through school.


  When the Students Catch On
  Writing Across the Disciplines: When the Students Catch On
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Reading To Learn: Dinosaurs Among Us

Unit 6: Evidence of Common Ancestry
Lesson 2 of 12

Objective: SWBAT create a picture book based on a scientific article that introduces students to the idea that birds are modern day dinosaurs.

Big Idea: Reading to learn is tough but that does not mean it can't be fun! Students work to "translate" a scientific article from a renowned paleontologist into "everyday speak" that any young person can understand without losing the article's integrity.

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15 teachers like this lesson
Science, ecosystem, ancestry, Evolution, Common Ancestors, LS4.A, Evidence of common ancestry, ancestors, fossils
  90 minutes
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