Writing to Communicate in Science

Communication is a science process skill found within the Science as Inquiry section of the National Science Education Standards. The resources here point to methods and references science teachers can use to assist students in continual honing of this important skill.

Writing with Scientists
In this workshop students will use their own notes and research to write and publish a report online. The workshop will be most helpful if students have completed research on a topic.

14 Writing Strategies
This article from the December 2006 issue of Science Scope enumerates strategies that will encourage critical thinking and provide purposeful writing practice. NSTA members can download the article at no charge; nonmembers must pay $0.99.

Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides
This resource comes from a site intended for college students, Writing Guidelines for Engineering and Science Students. However, because it focuses on PowerPoint presentations it is useful to students and teachers at all levels.

How to… Write to Learn Science
This book, available from NSTA, focuses on tapping students’ creativity, allowing them to express science concepts in their own words. Also offered are options for managing writing evaluations and a section on portfolio assessment. (NSTA members receive a reduced price.)


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 4/19/2012.

Assessment Tools

Here are some great resources to help you add variety to your assessment techniques. Assessment Standard C of the National Science Education Standards implies a need for multiple forms of assessment and recommends the following: (a)The feature that is claimed to be measured is actually measured, (b) Assessment tasks are authentic, (c) An individual student’s performance is similar on two or more tasks that claim to measure the same aspect of student achievement, (d) Students have adequate opportunity to demonstrate their achievements, and (e) Assessment tasks and methods of presenting them provide data that are sufficiently stable to lead to the same decisions if used at different times.

The ABCs of Assessment
This article discusses aligning assessment with instruction. It offers ideas on how to evaluate the effectiveness of any given assessment activity, stressing authentic assessment.

Portfolio Assessment
A portfolio is a collection of student work that exhibits the student’s efforts, progress, and achievements in one or more areas of the curriculum. This resource discusses the characteristics of an effective portfolio, types of portfolios, and the phases of portfolio assessment. It offers guidelines on how to get started using portfolios and how to evaluate them, and provides additional resources on portfolio assessment.

Classroom Assessment Techniques
This is a short, easy-to-read matrix of (a) classroom assessment techniques, (b)outlining descriptions, (c) what to do with the data, and (c) the time required for each type of assessment. The techniques included are the minute paper, chain notes, memory matrix, directed paraphrasing, one-sentence summary, exam evaluations, application cards, and student-generated test questions.

Assessment and Evaluation: Middle Level Science
This reference describes the phases of the evaluation process, assessing student progress, student assessment in science, performance-based evaluation in science, record-keeping, program evaluation, and curriculum evaluation. It contains many how-tos for teachers. The document also has a chart detailing what types of evaluation methods are good for evaluating specific skills.


We Want Your Feedback
We want and need your ideas, suggestions, and observations. What would you like to know more about? What questions have your students asked? We invite you to share with us and other readers by posting your comments. Please check back often for our newest posts or download the RSS feed for this blog. Let us know what you think and tell us how we can serve you better. We appreciate your feedback on all of our Middle School Portal 2 publications. You can also email us at msp@msteacher.org. Post updated 11/10/2011.