SLEWS Habitat Restoration
Science Writing Prompts
There are five science writing prompts. All include instructions for teachers, background information and media, a graphic organizer, the prompt, and a scoring rubric.
- SLEWS Writing Prompt Instructions for Teachers
- Orientation Prompt
- Native Tree and Shrub Planting Prompt
- Planting Cuttings and Grasses Prompt
- Irrigation Prompt
- Monitoring Prompt
- Scoring Rubric
To access the downloads page for these prompts, please fill out this survey.
In-Class Writing Prompts for SLEWS Teachers
Making "hands-on" science "minds-on" science: connecting farms, habitats, classrooms and communities
This collection of writing prompts for high-school science classes will help students prepare for and reflect on their field day experiences while developing scientific reasoning and writing skills. SLEWS teachers, staff members and University of California, Davis researchers developed the prompts as part of a year-long collaborative research project funded through the CRESS (Cooperative Research and Extension Services for Schools) Center in the School of Education at U.C. Davis. For more information about this project and our collaboration, please contact Dr. Heidi Ballard at the U.C. Davis School of Education.
The writing prompts are based on CA state science standards and are closely linked to SLEWS field day activities. Our hope is that if students better understand the science behind what they do on their SLEWS field days, their experiences will be more meaningful. In turn, students may become more excited about science class if they can directly relate their SLEWS experience to what scientists do.
Read the final report on this study here:
CRESS Collaborative Research Grant 2008-09 Final Report: Making 'hands-on' science 'minds-on' science: connecting farms, habitats, classrooms and communities (Word doc download, 176 KB)
How to use these prompts
We have designed and tested these writing prompts as activities to last one 50-60 minute period, including time for introduction of the content resources and writing prompt, small group or whole class discussion of the prompt and filling out the graphic organizer to help students organize their thoughts before writing, and time for students to write their response. However, depending on the time you have available and your specific goals, you can use the prompts in a variety of ways. See the SLEWS Writing Prompt General Instructions document, located in the folder when you download the prompt.
Collaborative Research by Teachers, SLEWS educators, and U.C. Davis Researchers: Connecting classroom learning to SLEWS field days
These writing prompts were developed as part of an educational research project during the 2008-2009 school year. The purpose of our collaborative research was to help answer the following question:
How does the integration of formal in-class instruction, coupled with hands-on participation in SLEWS field days, contribute to student understanding of ecological concepts and engagement in the learning process?
Here are some of the things we found out:
- Students reported that by writing in response to the prompts before each field day, they felt more prepared for their field days. Many students also reported that writing after each field day helped them remember and clarify what they'd learned during the field day.
- Students' understanding of content material improved after the field day experience in many cases, as well as their expressions of stewardship attitudes (including a sense of ownership of the project and commitment to helping their community through restoration work)
- Teachers noticed that students were particularly engaged during the group discussion portion of the writing activity.
- SLEWS staff and teachers noticed that students were excited to share what they knew with mentors and staff during the field days.
- Teachers noticed that many of their students became more comfortable with writing throughout the year.
- SLEWS staff reported that their own practice changed to focus more on the science concepts included in the prompts. They reported greater student participation in content-related discussion during field days.
- Prompts that had a personal audience and a familiar format (emails rather than newspaper articles) tended to elicit more enthusiastic, detailed responses from students.