Explanatory and Argumentative Speaking and Writing
While a C-E-R Strategy is often used interchangeably in science for both Explanatory and Argumentative Speaking and Writing in order to align well with the Michigan ELA Standards as well. Consider this article, In Elementary School Science, What's at Stake When We Call an 'Argument' an 'Opinion'? as an example of how important it can be to be clear about this alignment for both teachers and students. In this portion we have included information about both that will hopefully clarify the differences and how they work together.
Explanatory Speaking and Writing
When we work with students to develop Explanatory speaking and writing for science, we always work to explain a phenomenon or investigation. Research from secondary sources can also be included. Our explanation, whether written or spoken, should describe events or results and should answer either “how” or “why” and perhaps both. Examples of explanatory writing might include: How-to Guide, Cause and Effect, Magazine or Newspaper Article, Brochure, Infographic, Public Service Announcements, and Documentaries. Here are some examples to consider. Explanatory writing works especially well when having students dig into the Crosscutting Concepts of Cause and Effect, Patterns, Structure and Function or Stability and Change.
In getting students to develop this type of thinking, speaking and writing, a gradual release model is helpful. Teachers may want to begin by conducting “Think-alouds” in which the teacher begins by thinking through what the class has observed and beginning to develop an explanation for an investigation or phenomena. Developing sentences and even paragraphs together as a whole class is a good way to practice. Having students begin to practice by speaking their explanatory thinking in pairs or small groups is also a critical step. Pairs or groups may then be ready to write explanatory thinking together. Finally, students might be expected to craft their own explanatory sentences or paragraphs would happen after the different levels of practice. Of course, this will look different and take different lengths of time depending on the grade level. (see chart below) When we are scoring explanatory writing we should keep in mind both science and ELA. In Appendix F of the NGSS, there is a progression (shown in box at right) for the practice of Explanation to consider on p. 11. This can be compared and used in conjuntion with these rubrics that are aligned to Common Core State Standards for ELA and this rubric from Read, Write, Think within this example lesson on scientific explanation for K-2.