Friday, September 12, 2014

Unknown Spherical Objects

Closely Examining the Unknown Spherical Object
  Click for photo gallery
At first blush, it may not seem that science and language arts have much in common.  How do precise measurements and careful observations connect with elaboration and word choice? Much more closely than you think. Whether a physicist is attempting to reproduce the experiment of another, or a poet is trying to capture the beauty of the summer sunrise, details and language are key to both disciplines. Take a moment to read any of the writings of Charles Darwin, Henry David Thoreau,
John James Audubon, or Rachel Carson and you will  find yourself immersed in writing that is meticulously poetic.

Mrs. Fultz and I decided to take advantage of the similarities of our disciplines by focusing on the power of the written word to explain and describe. In her agents' Mission Logs and Writer's Notebooks, we realized there was a need for more detailed and elaborated writing. Mrs. Fultz wanted clear and concise log entries, and I wanted writers to create pictures using words.

This fall, in both classes, students made observations of the world around them. Science classes used USM's beautiful campus to record the details of trees, birds, and flowers. Sentences and phrases from the students' Mission Logs were used in language arts as models and as starting points for revising general details into specific ones. In my class, students were asked to look closely at an intimately familiar object - the orange - with one caveat: They had to pretend that this was their first encounter with the 'Unknown Spherical Object', and that this was an agent training module for their science class. They were charged with qualitatively describing their unusual find. For two days, agents explored the USOs using their five senses. They documented the outside and dissected the inside, without ever referring to it as an orange. Finally, students began to compose entries in their Writer's Notebooks that would thoroughly describe their objects. At the same time, in science, the USOs were being described quantitatively. Measurements were made, and numbers were crunched in an effort to scientifically define the sphere.

So far, the students have enjoyed the challenging activity. Not only that, but my classroom has smelled fantastic! Mrs. Fultz and I look forward to working with the agents to revise and add even more specific details to their science and English writing. 

No comments:

Post a Comment