Writing in Science Classrooms (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Lab Reports

Many students feel about lab reports the same way they feel about book reports. They don’t mind the lab (book) and even enjoy it sometimes, but they detest writing it up. Successful science teachers find ways to make the writing of the lab report less tedious and more successful. They usually begin by modeling at the overhead or chalkboard the writing of the report. This is not the same as giving the students an already completed model because as the teacher writes, he or she “thinks aloud,” allowing students to see how the teacher decided what to include and how to word it. Most teachers do the modeling and thinking aloud themselves several times and then continue modeling but asking students to give them ideas of what to write next and how to write it. Once students are participating in the writing being modeled by the teacher, many teachers move to a small-group writing format. One person in each group is appointed as writer, but all group members share in deciding what to write and how to write it.

Once students have had lots of experience watching and helping the teacher model the writing of a lab report and participating in group writing, many teachers like to have the class create a frame for a lab report which can then be displayed in the room (and/or duplicated for their science notebooks) and will serve as a reminder of the form and essential elements of a lab report. This frame is most useful if it is constructed by the class after teacher modeling and group work. A generic frame is given here but should only be considered as an example and not as the frame for lab reports. Frames more specific to the particular area of science being studied, the age, and scientific sophistication of your students will support student writing of lab reports.

Laboratory Report

    Why does . . . ?

    I think that . . .

    (List materials used)

    (List in order what you did)

    (List what you observed, including numbers, pictures, etc., as appropriate)

    My problem was . . .
    The results showed that . . .
    These results supported (did not support) my hypotheses because . . .

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