Oral and written presentations are a representation in which individuals organize their thinking. As students progress in their academic development the requirements for organization become more challenging. If we must help students in the process of writing we should help them find the way they can organize their thoughts on a topic. One may model their own processes of mental organization and how is that transformed into notes, outlines, visual cues, and many other ways to organize information.
The critical point I want to make here is that organization is the key to good writing but to achieve it one must find that style of organization that fits them as individuals. Some students may need major organizational tools while others need only visual cues. As a teacher we must help students find the way that best fit them without compromising the quality of their final product – a piece of writing.
This unit is intended to help students develop their ability to write about scientific topics. In order to do so we must start by providing students with a series of rich events that will motivate them to share what they have experienced. At first students may be hesitant due to lack of the appropriate vocabulary or apprehension about the process of writing. Nonfiction reading and writing has presented a challenging dilemma in education. Students have the notion that non-fiction is a complex text that is difficult to understand and to reproduce in our own words.
The first thing I need to do is engage students in the learning process so that the challenge becomes an exciting process of inquiry that they not only enjoy but also allows for them to learn new concepts. I want students to engage in oral presentations that are short such as an advertisement about a weed. They would have to do the research about the plant make a drawing, take a photo or video and they must describe the habitat in which we can find it. Oral presentations help students build knowledge and start with the inquiry process. Meanwhile they must keep a journal on the plant or plants in the immediate surroundings of the school. Entries in the journal can be drawings or descriptions. This would be the first week of the class in which I will help them during class to develop confidence in their ability to create a nature journal by actually going out side and helping them record what they see.
The second week they will have the opportunity to see other habitats such as the Quinnipiac River banks. They will be able to record their findings and present to the class orally in terms of their chosen plant. This exercise will help them with developing an eye for the morphology of their chosen plant and it will also help them record the frequency in which the plant appears in different habitats. My hope is that their journals could serve as possible publishable materials. I want to think that they in fact could help the readers of their journals to learn something new about their plant. Meanwhile they must find facts about their chosen plant and include them in their journal.
The students will be learning and using more than one technique for presentation. All these different layers or strategies to go about developing their writing should allow them to create a collection of information that will help them write position papers on environmental issues that we may encounter in our inquiry in the city. In addition, I want them to describe their take on some environmental issues but taking into consideration the new knowledge they may acquire in our study of city habitats.