Chapter 1

In Chapter 1, “Getting Started with Writing in Science,” we explore
our own histories with writing and science in more detail, and we
explain what we see as four key shifts driving the science/writing
conversation.

  • “Writing across the curriculum” (or WAC)
  • “writing-to-learn” (WTL)
  • “writing-to-engage” (WTE)
  • “writing in the disciplines” (WID)

Writing across the curriculum (WAC), writing-to-learn (WTL), writing-to-engage (WTE), and writing in the disciplines (WID) all share a common goal: to help students learn with and through writing.

Summary of Writing to Learn Strategies:
◆ Two-column (Cornell) notes, in which students divide their notebook to record notes directly from their teacher’s presentation in the left-hand column and, in the right, ask questions, make connections, or draw conclusions about the information being presented.


◆ Venn diagrams where students create overlapping circles and record information about two ideas on the outsides of the circles and, where they cross, describe similarities between the topics.


◆ Frayer squares/definition maps that invite students to put a topic in the center and then, in the four quadrants around that topic, explore the definition, characteristics, examples, and non-examples related to the topic.


◆ RAFTS (Role, Audience, Format, Topic, and Strong Verb) as a creative, yet exploratory way for students to examine a topic from an alternative perspective, describing a particular topic through imagery and personification.

◆ Exit Slips that students complete at the end of a class session, in which they can share significant ideas that they have learned, questions that remain, or connections to other course content.

MAPS Heuristic

Mode — with mode, we think about the genre or general characteristics of the writing, such as how it might be organized, how textual features may (or may not) come into play, and the level of formality one might expect in reading this particular kind of writing.
Media — with media, as a close companion to mode, we think about the affordances of various writing tools and spaces, including text, image, audio, or video. Media can include word-processed documents, websites, podcasts, infographics, and more.
Audience — for many assignments, let’s face it: the teacher is the only audience. Instead, we want to think about how we can help students move beyond only writing for us as teachers and, instead, think about various audiences beyond our classrooms.
Purpose — and, again, for many assignments, the purpose is to just get it done and get a grade. But, we want students to think about how they can engage, inform, and argue with many audiences including their classmates and other citizen scientists.

Situation — with this category, we are thinking both about the situation the writers themselves face (what do they prefer to write, in what formats, etc.) as well as the writing task itself (what do students need to know about the mode and media expected of them, what is the
timeline, etc.).

MAPS of Writing in Science