Sunday, October 6, 2013

Opinion Writing about the Periodic Table...Who Knew?

This year, we have integrated writing instruction into the content areas in sixth grade. We structured this by thinking in terms of three. Three grading periods, three content areas, and three types of writing. Next week, I will be working with science teachers about how they will weave opinion writing into their unit on matter, elements, mixtures and compounds. Because I did not initially see the connections between the periodic table and writing editorials, I called a few of my chemistry-oriented friends on Friday afternoon, then spent some time researching their ideas to see if there would be enough information. "What are some debatable topics that are within intellectual reach of eleven year-olds?" I asked them.

If anyone reading this has other ideas, please, please share them, but here are some of the ones that we came up with. I am also including some of the resources and articles that I found to go with them so that we can develop text sets. Please feel free to use these, but also feel free to share additional resources that you might have!

  • Fluoride and whether it belongs in public water.

  • Whether farmers should use organic fertilizers (it's a little hard to find con articles about this subject!)

I also collected a few articles about what sorts of materials physicians and dentists should use for joint replacements and dental fillings, but I am still processing about whether these are debatable topics. I need to call a couple of my doctor friends. 

Perhaps the most insightful call was with a friend who has her doctorate in a field related to sustainable living. She has just eliminated her lawn in favor of pachysandra and suggested debating the pros and cons of lawns--she ran off several reasons to make me think about ground covers other than grass. She also suggested researching about composting, fracking, and fertilizers. Until yesterday, I knew nothing about fracking. What a hugely debatable topic that is!

As we continue our path along integration, I'd love to hear other experiences, and again, my plea is out for debatable topics that relate to elements and compounds.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend,


    1. Fracking is another hot button issue. I wonder how many kid-level articles there are out there that you can use for your students...

      1. Actually, you'd be surprised at how many 1000-1200 lexile articles there are about fracking. I had not heard or known much about it until last weekend when someone else mentioned it as an idea. There was an interview about it on my radio this morning as I drove in, making it sound completely wonderful. It might fit better into the water unit, but I'm not sure..Thanks, Stacey!