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Informational Writing in High School Science

The Importance of Genre, Apprenticeship, and Publication


  • Angela M. Kohnen


As states continue to implement CCSS, science teachers will be asked to incorporate more discipline-specific reading and writing in their classes. Yet, according to national studies, few science teachers have previous experience to draw upon and most have little to no training in writing pedagogy. This article reports on one science teacher's successful implementation of a science journalism writing assignment in her high school chemistry class. Her success was attributed to two factors: (a) time to learn and understand a discipline-specific genre that was suitable for classroom use, and (b) the existence of a publication outlet which allowed her to create a community of practice where students could enter as legitimate peripheral participants and ultimately become published authors. Each of these factors contributed to a classroom where writing was not simply five-paragraph essays, where success was modeled, where peer editing was a privilege, and where publication was the expectation.