Project: Seattle Public Schools’ Elementary Science Expository Writing and Science Notebooks Program

Authors: Laura Stokes, Mark St. John, Jo Fyfe

Type: Report

Publication: July 2002

Writing For Science, Science For Writing: A Study Of The Seattle Elementary Science Expository Writing And Science Notebooks Program

Full report (pdf, 47 pages)

Appendices (pdf, 30 pages)


The Expository Writing and Science Notebooks Program is part of the Seattle Public Schools’ K-5 science initiative. The program is of interest because of its deliberate approach to improving the use of science notebooks for the twin goals of improving learning in science and developing expository writing skills. The program consists both of a curriculum for writing linked to the district’s science kits, and professional development workshops.

For this study, we examined the extent to which participating teachers value the program’s curriculum and teaching strategies, and the extent to which they believe it benefits their students. We also carried out a direct study of the science notebooks of a sample of teachers who are implementing the writing curriculum in their classrooms. For the study of student work, we developed a four-point rubric to assess students’ scientific thinking, use of science process skills, and expository writing.

Our study addressed three broad questions:

1. To what extent and in what ways does the program assist teachers in improving their teaching of science and writing?
2. What evidence is there that the program is adding real value to students’ opportunity to learn science and writing?
3. How can the program continue to refine and develop itself so that its quality is improved and its reach is extended?

Intended Audience

Science teachers, Science-Technology-Engineering-Math (STEM) Education Leaders, Funders, and general public.


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