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Learning To Teach Science With Writing: Implementation Of The Seattle Elementary Expository Writing And Science Notebooks Program In Typical Classrooms


Laura Stokes, Heather Mitchell, Katherine Ramage, Inverness Research Inc.


Note: This report contains an Executive Summary.

Between 1996 and 2003, the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) established a hands-on, inquiry-based K-5 science program. With support from the Stuart Foundation beginning in 1999, the district created the Expository Writing and Science Notebooks Program as an enhancement to the science program. This program aims to develop students’ conceptual understanding in science, their scientific thinking, and their expository writing skills through a structured approach to using science notebooks. This study is the third that we at Inverness Research Associates have conducted of the program. Previous studies have focused on the benefits to students when the program is fully implemented in the classrooms of Lead Science Writing Teachers. The current study, in contrast, focuses on implementation by “typical” science teachers who have taken just a few workshops. Research questions:

1. What does implementation look like in the classrooms of teachers who have participated in an average number of science writing classes?

2. What factors influence and shape implementation in these typical classrooms?

3. What are the benefits to students of different degrees of implementation?

4. If there is implementation that is not full and faithful to the program design, does such implementation provide some benefits to student learning? To what extent, if any, are there detrimental effects from partial implementation?

Findings suggest that the program itself is sound and can support student learning in any classroom, and that teachers with modest professional development opportunity can begin to implement it. While full implementation is needed for full student benefits, modest implementation has some benefits with little or no detriments. Findings also suggest that additional professional development and higher school-level priority for science are needed for fuller implementation.

Intended Audience

Science Educators, Teachers, School and District Administrators, Reform Leaders, and general public.


Any and all errors are claimed by the authors of this document, Inverness Research Associates

Date published

September 2005

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