English and social studies lend themselves too conveniently to reading and writing with historical fiction and writing with document based questioning. In fact, half of my ELA curriculum is driven by the humanities.
But what about science? Yes, there is reading and writing involved in science classes but how do we bring to the forefront the interconnectedness between these two disciplines?
This past month I wanted to bring science into my 8th grade English class through an investigative journalism unit. Students read and wrote an investigative journalism feature article with a science focus.
Guiding Question: How do the choices we make impact the world?
First, I immersed my students in science based nonfiction texts. We examined author’s purpose, text structure, and craft moves like Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.
The Society for Environmental Journalism recognizes and awards the top written journalism about the planet and I utilized their nominations and recognitions as mentor texts for my students.
I wanted my students to live like journalists. Students wrote down possible topics of interest and choose two or three to research more about. Students began gathering the 5 Ws about these topics: Who, What, Where, When, and Why?
After a few days of research student selected one topic to commit to. Before we did any writing, I required students dig deeper in their research and compile an annotated bibliography with four or five sources to help them write their feature piece. The idea being, all good writing is based on solid research.
After students wrote their annotated bibliography they started their own articles. Paying close attention to the lead or lede, the author’s point of view, voice, and blending the qualities of narrative and argumentative writing. Our class became a writing workshop and the articles that my students created were informative, engaging, and inspiring. Topics addressed endangered animals, depression, obesity, pollution entwined with personal stories and connections. I created an eFlipbook of their writing using FlipsnackEDU to share their work.
Because FlipsnackEDU is a closed sight, I cannot share the ebook with you, but below I have included a pdf version of one class’s writing. I have also listed resources used to develop the unit.
Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Units of Study: Grade 8 Investigative Journalism
Gallager, Kelly (2015) In the Best Interest of Students. Maine: Stenhouse Publishers.
I’m Lovin’ Lit: Interactive Reading Literature Notebooks 2 (for Point of View Foldable)