Label: Common Core

April 4, 2012

Good morning, and welcome to Writing Wednesday, where every week there is a new opportunity to publish your creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to read an excerpt from Seymour Simon’s new book BUTTERFLIES, and explain in your own words what he is saying and how he uses details to express his idea more powerfully.

 


From BUTTERFLIES, by Seymour Simon:

     Throughout human history butterflies and moths have been the subject of stories, myths, poetry, art, drama and dance in many cultures. The Hopi Native Americans perform a ceremonial dance in homage to the butterfly. An Irish saying goes: "May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun and find your shoulder to light on, to bring you luck, happiness and riches today, tomorrow, and beyond." For many of us, butterflies are symbols of the wild loveliness and wonder of nature.

 


Your assignment: Write a paragraph or two explaining the main idea that Seymour is trying to express on this page. Use your own words to express his theme. And, give examples of telling details that he uses to support his theme.

When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing!

 


Note to Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday exercise is designed to use in support of CCSS Reading Anchor Standard #2: Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(6) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals, Butterflies, New Books, Common Core, Earth Day 2012   •  Permalink (link to this article)

March 28, 2012

Welcome to WRITING WEDNESDAY! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to contrast two different kinds of science news stories - a firsthand account, and a secondhand account.

 

The Facts: This week’s big science news story is about James Cameron, the film director who directed both "Titanic" and "Avatar." On Monday, Cameron used a specially designed submarine to dive alone to the deepest place on Earth. The place is known as the Challenger Deep, off the coast of the Pacific island of Guam, and it is almost impossible to imagine how deep it really is. The Challenger Deep is 120 times deeper than the Grand Canyon and more than a mile deeper than the tallest mountain on Earth, Mount Everest, is tall.

Only two other people have ever made this dive. In 1960, Swiss engineer Jacques Piccard and U.S. Navy Capt. Don Walsh descended to the bottom in a bathyscape (a deep-sea diving craft) called the Trieste.

Read these descriptions of the two events. The first one is a firsthand account - which means that the story is being told by the person who was actually there. The second is a secondhand account - a story that is retold by someone who was not there, but has heard it from someone else.

Firsthand Account (James Cameron writing on Twitter): "Just arrived at the ocean’s deepest point. Hitting bottom never felt so good. Can’t wait to share what I’m seeing with you." 

Secondhand Account (U.S. Navy website):  "Only two people have ever been to the deepest part of the world ocean, and Dr. Don Walsh is one of them. In 1960 Walsh, along with Swiss inventor Jacques Piccard, piloted the U.S. Navy’s bathyscaph Trieste to a spot at the bottom of the Marianas Trench known as the Challenger Deep. Inside Trieste’s seven-foot diameter cabin and with more than 16,000 pounds per square inch pressure outside, Walsh relied on the knowledge and skills of the ocean engineers and marine technicians who built the craft and supported its operation."

Your Assignment: Tell us about the differences between the firsthand account and the secondhand account. Contrast and compare the two stories by telling us about the main focus of each. How is the information you got from each of them alike? How is it different?

When you are ready, click "comments" below and write about the differences and similarities between these two accounts.

Happy writing! 

Photo: Mark Thiessen / National Geographic


Educators: Today’s Writing Wednesday is designed to use in support of CCSS Anchor Standard RI.6: Compare and contrast a firsthand and secondhand account of the same event of topic; describe the differences in focus and the information provided.

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(19) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Writing Wednesday, Oceans, Common Core, CompareContrast   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 22, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to describe this barn owl in flight.

  Background: Most owls have broad wings which have quite a large surface in comparison to the rest of their bodies. These large wings make it easy for an owl to glide for a long time without a lot of flapping, and they also allow the owl to fly quite slowly - so that it can hunt for prey on the ground below.

 

When a normal bird flies, the air rushing over its wings makes a lot of noise, kind of a "whooshing" sound.   But owls have feathers called "flutings" on the leading edge of their wings. These feathers are almost like a comb, and they comb through the air as it rushes over the wings, breaking it up and muffling the sound. Because of these special wing feathers, a huge owl can glide almost silently through the forest, watching and listening as it searches for prey.

Your Assignment: Look at this photograph of a barn owl in flight and write a paragraph that describes the bird’s silent search for its prey.

 

Tips to Make Your Writing Powerful:

  • Set the scene by appealing to your reader’s senses and imagination. You could write about what it feels like to soar through the air, what the world looks like from up there, or describe the "sound" of the silence.
  •  Include descriptive details about the owl, or about its prey on the ground below.
  • Use strong verbs to capture the action of the scene. For example, instead of saying the owl is "flying," you could use an action verb and say it is "darting" or "swooping."

 

When you are finished with your paragraph, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.

Happy writing!

 

 

Photo: Major Gilbert

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(7) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, birds, Common Core   •  Permalink (link to this article)

February 8, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every week there is a new opportunity to publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog. This week, we are asking you to use your writing to convince people to support an important cause.

 

The Problem: 2012 is one of Alaska’s snowiest winters ever. 92 inches of snow have already fallen in Anchorage, Alaska - that’s 18 inches more than they usually get in a whole year! And there are still ten weeks of winter left.

The snow is so deep that moose - the largest deer on Earth - are using plowed highways and railroad tracks to get around. This is dangerous, and they are being hit by trains and cars in record numbers. Although the moose is not officially endangered, the population is much smaller because of hunting and other human activities.

The Alaska Moose Agency wants the governor to declare a "Moose Emergency," so that they can get permission to clear trees and cut paths to give the moose safe pathways to walk on.

Your Assignment: Imagine that you are part of the Alaska Moose Agency, and you are making posters to hang up all around town, asking for a Moose Emergency. The poster can’t have too many words on it, or it will be too hard to read. So, you must argue your case, and make people care about saving the moose…..in 50 words or less.

Tips to Make Your Writing Powerful:

o   Set the scene by appealing to your reader’s senses and imagination.

o   Include descriptive details to help to convince the reader that your cause is important.

o   Use strong verbs to get your reader to take action.

 

Give it your best shot. When you are finished writing, click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.

 

Photo: Donna Dewhurst

 

 


          Note to Teachers and Library Media Specialists: 

I have created a Guide called “Writing Exciting Nonfiction,” which you can download by clicking on this link. It outlines different techniques that I use in my writing, and includes many examples from my books. I have posted it so that you can use it with your students. Please let me know if it is helpful, and share any other feedback about how we can make this blog a productive tool for you to use in exploring and encouraging nonfiction writing with your students.

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(70) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Writing Wednesday, Animals, Common Core, Bell Ringers   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 31, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday you can publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

Writing Wednesday has two simple rules:

1.   Give us the best you’ve got in 5 minutes. That’s right - five minutes of creative writing. Think of it as a word extravaganza to warm up your brain for the rest of the day!

2.   Tell us your first name, the name of your school, and how old you are.

Ready? Let’s go!

 

The poet Mary Oliver wrote this in one of her poems:

 

It is the nature of stone

to be satisfied.

It is the nature of water

to want to be somewhere else.*

 

 

What do you think she is saying about the difference between stone and water? How would you describe the ways that stone and water are different? What do you like or dislike about each of them?

Click on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this post to enter your writing.

Happy Writing Wednesday!

 

 

*Excerpted from THE LEAF AND THE CLOUD, by Mary Oliver. Da Capo Press, 2001.

Photo: Russel Wills

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(10) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Common Core, Poetry   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 25, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday you can publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

Writing Wednesday has two simple rules: 

  1. Give us the best you’ve got in 5 minutes. That’s right - five minutes of creative writing. Think of it as a word extravaganza to warm up your brain for the rest of the day!
  2. Tell us your first name, the name of your school, and how old you are. 

Ready? Let’s go!

As a scientist wrote yesterday, "THE SUN IS WAKING UP." The sun goes through regular cycles, and we have entered a period of high solar activity. Huge solar storms have been sweeping the surface of the sun for the past week, sending bursts of geomagnetic radiation called "solar flares" toward Earth. When this radiation hits Earth’s magnetic field, it causes bursts of light that we call the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. Sometimes they look like ghostly fingers in the sky; sometimes they look like huge explosions of colored lights. 

Here is a photograph of the Northern Lights as seen in Finland this week. Take five minutes and write a list of five words to describe this nighttime sight. Enter your writing by clicking on the yellow "Comments" at the bottom of this blog post.

 Happy writing!

 Photo: Arnar Bergur Guðjónsson

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(8) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Writing Wednesday, Aurora Borealis, Common Core, sun, Bell Ringers   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 18, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday you can publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

Writing Wednesday has two simple rules:

1.    Give us the best you’ve got in 5 minutes. That’s right - five minutes of creative writing. Think of it as a word extravaganza to warm up your brain for the rest of the day!

2.    Tell us your first name, the name of your school, and how old you are.

Ready? Let’s go! Today, we would like you to read the news story below, and then write a caption for the photograph. We will publish the best caption on the Seymour Science blog.


NEWS STORY: Schools are closed this morning in Seattle and flights into the city are cancelled in anticipation of a second major snowstorm in four days. The city was already hit with a snowstorm on Sunday night, and a potentially historic winter storm is bearing down on the city today.

Seattle is a Pacific coast city that is not used to dealing with heavy snow - their average snowfall is just 5.9 inches per year. By the time today’s storm is finished, the city may have received up to three times that much - in a single week!


Here is the photograph. Write a caption that will capture readers’ attention and draw them into reading more of the story. Your writing could be serious, or it could be funny. Either approach is fine, as long as what you write makes the reader want to know more! Write your caption and submit it by clicking on the "Comments" below. Happy writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Sam Jennings

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(3) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Common Core, Weather, Writing, Bell Ringers   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 12, 2012

 

 

Educators who are considering inviting Seymour Simon to speak in their school district may be interested in this note that we received from elementary school media specialist Donna McAndrews following his weeklong visit to schools in Niskayuna, New York.


Last week Seymour Simon visited our elementary school to speak about his science writing.  Our students were thrilled to meet him, and I was so proud of their enthusiasm and intelligence during his presentations. 

To prepare the students for this visit, we spent a few weeks looking at as many of his books as we could.   The students noticed the story-quality of Seymour’s books, and they found that learning a new science concept was easier when Seymour made a comparison to something they already knew.  So much like their own classroom teachers would do! 

In one fourth grade class we needed a model for writing our nonfiction paragraphs on the Iroquois.   Even though our subject was not science-related, each student was able to find a page in one of Seymour’s books that illustrated a good nonfiction paragraph with an introductory sentence and supporting examples, as well as other details like using comparisons to explain new concepts.  Not only did these students write really solid paragraphs, but they checked out the books they used because they wanted to read more!

In addition to looking at the books, all of our third, fourth and fifth grade classes explored the Seymour Science Blog on the website.  They had a blast learning about science topics from each blog post.  We asked them to respond by posting a thoughtful comment that included something they learned from the post as well as something they wonder about after reading that blog.  This was a really good first step in learning how to use blogs in an educational setting to further your own learning, not just to react to something some else posts. 

More excitement was generated when Seymour and Liz created the "Butterfly or Moth?" contest for our students.  Classes in grades K - 2 and individual students in grades 3 - 5 all participated in this endeavor!  Again, the expectation was that their online comments should reflect their learning and should be clear and easy-to-understand.  The students worked hard to research the differences between moths and butterflies, and they articulated their answers clearly in their blog comments.  I think they would have worked hard even if there wasn’t a prize at the end.  They really enjoy learning something new and sharing what they know.  It’s as simple as that!

I am hopeful that in the near future we will find a way to add Seymour’s many digital books to our library’s catalog so our students can borrow them for use on their own devices. 

Thanks, Seymour, for bringing science and writing to life for our Niskayuna students!


Thank you, Donna, for your very kind words. Your students were indeed well-prepared for Seymour’s visit, and when educators like you and your colleagues do advance preparation, it is always a more successful experience for both the children and the author!

When Seymour Simon visits a school district we try to maximize the payoff for the students by showcasing their research, writing and artwork on SeymourSimon.com. These interactions are designed to create an opportunity for each student to have a personal, relevant and satisfying experience reading, analyzing and writing nonfiction text (very important in these early days of implementing the Common Core Standards).  

We encourage educators who use this site to give us feedback on how you are using the materials we create with your students, and in particular, how we can do it better. We love to hear from you! 

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: School Visits, Teachers and Librarians, Common Core   •  Permalink (link to this article)

January 11, 2012

Welcome to Writing Wednesday! Every Wednesday you can publish your own creative writing on the Seymour Science blog.

Writing Wednesday has two simple rules: 

  1. Give us the best you’ve got in 5 minutes. That’s right - five minutes of creative writing. Think of it as a word extravaganza to warm up your brain for the rest of the day!
  2. Tell us your first name, the name of your school, and how old you are.
  Ready? Let’s go! Today, we want you to describe one of the amazing-looking animals found living under the sea as part of the Census of Marine Life.  Scientists have spent the past ten years searching for and cataloguing the huge diversity of life found in Earth’s oceans.

This is one of the new species they found. It is called a VAMPIRE SQUID, and it lives in Monterey Bay, off the coast of Northern California. Click the "Comments" button below and take five minutes to write about what you see in this photograph. Use descriptive words and strong verbs to describe the animal and the dark waters where it lives. You could use a comparison to help your reader imagine this creature….or appeal to the reader’s emotions to set the scene (how does it make you feel when you look at a Vampire Squid?).

 

What you write is up to you. Have fun with it!

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Writing Wednesday, Animals, Oceans, Kids Write, Common Core, Bell Ringers   •  Permalink (link to this article)

December 7, 2011

Yesterday, as my wife Liz and I were out putting holiday lights on the bushes in front of our house, we came upon this garter snake sunning itself in a bed of dry leaves that were caught in the branches. He was so quiet that I reached forward to see if it was alive. Sure enough, it slithered away, out of sight. I spotted it there again this morning, though. This must feel like a cozy spot!

What is surprising is that normally, in December, this snake would already be down in a den below ground, sleeping together with hundreds of other snakes for the winter. Once the weather cools down to normal winter temperatures, that is what it will do.

OK - WRITERS, ARE YOU READY? Write a few sentences describing the snake on the bush. If you like, you can put yourself (the writer) in my place and describe finding the snake. Use comparisons to describe how the snake looks in amidst the branches. Maybe ask a question that the reader will be thinking about as he or she looks at this photograph of a snake in a tree. Use as many descriptive details as you can to describe what the snake looks like, how it felt to find it in such an unexpected place, or even how you think it was feeling when humans showed up!

Post your writing by clicking on "comments" at the bottom of this blog. I am looking forward to reading what you write!  


          Note to Teachers and Library Media Specialists: 

I have created a Guide called “Writing Exciting Nonfiction,” which you can download by clicking on this link. It outlines different techniques that I use in my writing, and includes many examples from my books. I have posted it so that you can use it with your students. Please let me know if it is helpful, and share any other feedback about how we can make this blog a productive tool for you to use in exploring and encouraging nonfiction writing with your students.

 

 

Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Writing Wednesday, Animals Nobody Loves, Seymour Photographs, snakes, Common Core, Writing   •  Permalink (link to this article)

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