Case Study: The Evolution of an Article

Published on February 10, 2012 by in Case Studies


As you read the first draft of this student’s article, think about the SciJourn standards. What did this student do well? What would you say to this student to help him improve? Look at the SAFI—does it help you respond to this student’s writing?

Now, open the professional editor’s edit of this student’s draft. How do the professional editor’s comments compare to what you might have said? What issues seem to concern the professional editor the most?

The student revised the article based on the editor’s edits. As you read through the student’s second draft, notice what he changed and what he did not. Did he address the editor’s concerns? Do you think this draft is better than the first draft? What would you suggest he do next?

Next look at the editor’s second edit of this student’s article. How would you compare the editor’s style on the second draft versus his style editing the first draft? Does the editor have the same concerns this time?

After editing this article a second time, the editor visited this student’s class and had an individual writing conference with him. Listen to the audio clip of this conference. Notice the editor’s concerns about the student’s use of a press release as the main source for the article. The editor also offers advice about finding people to interview and how to conduct an interview.

1. Student 1st draft green cars

2. Professional edit of student 1st draft green cars

3. Student 2nd draft green cars

4. Professional edit of student 2nd draft green cars

5. Student editor conference green cars

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Please check links before showing to class- content changes and it’s not always PG!

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A demonstration of the “National Press Club approach” to a classroom interview.


The goal of this lesson is teach students to formulate good questions, rank their questions in terms of importance, conduct an interview, listen to answers and understand the value of follow-up queries.  An added goal is to model how to ask questions of professionals.


The model interview with University of Missouri-St. Louis psychology professor Dr. Robert Paul took place on July 23, 2010. The interviewer is Dr. Alan Newman, a co-PI on the SciJourn project.

The questions asked were generated by the teachers in the 2010 SciJourn summer professional development program.  The teachers researched Dr. Paul on the web the night before the interview. The day of the interview, they formed 3- or 4-person teams to formulate questions based on the research and then rank order the questions in terms of importance. The resultant questions were written done by a designated scribe and then given to Newman, who either asked the question as written or in some cases combined the question from two groups into one.

national press club interview lesson


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Lessons: Read Aloud- Find the Flaw

Published on September 29, 2011 by in Uncategorized


This read aloud encourages students to find the flaw (missing attributions) in articles.


Read Aloud – attributions – find the flaw


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This read-aloud explores the ways science writers include various sources of information in news articles to provide voices from different perspectives.


Read Aloud – attributed sources – why are they there

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Lesson: Intro to Science Journalism

Published on September 29, 2011 by in Uncategorized


Our assumption is that comparing/contrasting is (1) an effective way for students to learn and (2) a means for the teacher to see what it is that students notice. Prior to introducing the science writing project (SciJourn) to your students, use lessons such as this to present the genre of science journalism.

In this lesson, students compare other forms of science writing (textbooks, tradebooks, etc.) with the science journalism article. The goal is for students to notice differences in style, voice, currency of information, and/or additional characteristics.

Materials: One or more forms of science writing (such as a textbook passage), SciJourner newspapers

lesson – Intro to Science Journalism

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TEACHER GUIDE – status of class

This teacher guide facilitates the tracking of student progress through the use of a status board.

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article progress checklist

This checklist guides students through the stages of article writing, while also allowing them to record their progress.

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Student Guide to Search Star

The  Student Guide to Search Star is a method of refining search terms to find better sources of information for articles.










Student Guide to Search:Star

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SciJourn Stories: The Element Project

Published on September 22, 2011 by in SciJourn Stories


The Element Project: Integrating SciJourn into Freshman Introduction to Chemistry

By Rose Davidson,  May, 2011


One of the conditions that I operated under while implementing the SciJourn activities this year was that I cover core content material on basic chemistry. This core content material forms the basis upon which all the other science coursework at my school is built. So integrating SciJourn lessons into my established and required content sequence was vital to the success of the program in my school.

I began the year with general lessons from SciJourn, usually one after each content unit. I discussed the chemistry in our daily lives through Read Alouds as I covered the introductory chapter on what chemistry involves. We brainstormed the aspects of our lives that were impacted by chemistry. I covered how to locate credible sources of information and how to use diigo as I covered the second unit on the divisions of matter: elements, compounds and mixtures. I assigned each student to one of these categories and had them look up articles online and use diigo to share them with the class. In the next unit we learned about atoms and this is where I choose to begin introducing the students to the idea that they would be writing a science journalism article. As we discussed atoms and atomic structure I used Read Alouds to share the important work that is being done to allow us to”see” actual atoms with the Scanning Transition Electron Microscope. We looked at the organization of these articles, that of the inverted triangle.

Each student chose an element by lottery to research from one of the main groups on the periodic table. Teams of three students crafted a movie using Windows Live Movie Maker which described their assigned elements and the family to which they belonged. The students used diigo in order to keep track of their sources and to share them with each other as they worked.   Once the movies were completed and the class had viewed all of the student produced movies we moved on to the actual article  that they would be writing for SciJourn.

The SciJourn assignment began with the student looking back over their work on their element and finding one area or use of that element which had some relationship or context to their lives.   This would become the topic for their SciJourn article.  We spent a class period brainstorming ideas and looking up ideas by googling, “The importance of (element name)” and “Uses of (element name).” Most students had already done some work on this as the movie required them to find uses of the elements in their lives and to explain the importance of the element to life on earth.

Some students felt they had very easy and interesting elements; fluorine in toothpaste, chlorine in swimming pool, helium gas in balloons.  Other students had to stretch to find context; rubidium in fire works, argon in light bulbs and lasers, carbon’s role in global warming.  By the end of the class period most students were on the trail to their topic.

Over the following weeks topics were decided and experts were interviewed on their topic by each student. This was followed by lessons on attributions, giving credit to our experts and sources of information.  Students peer edited each other’s papers twice and received feedback from me, their teacher using track changes. The final papers were submitted and they each had a story to tell about their element.  Each student had made a connection to their element and saw its importance in their lives.  They had varying success with writing in the inverted triangle style of the journalist as they were well indoctrinated in the five paragraph essay method.

This project was so successful that I plan to create an interactive periodic table from their essays. As one scrolls over the element, the titles of the articles or the ledes would appear. By clicking on them the entire article with the student selected illustration would then appear. I cannot wait to elaborate and develop this project further next year.


Some examples of Ledes that my students had in their papers:               


Phosphorous uses in Fertilizers

Have you ever thought about what makes plants grow into beautiful flowers? Or what ingredients help them prosper?  Well phosphorous is one of the main nutrients plants need to survive. It used in fertilizers because it is important for the best crop productions.

How to Stay Standing, Longer

Got Milk? Has anyone not heard this phrase? Blah, blah, blah. Milk, milk, milk. Why does it even matter? It does not matter what your age is, calcium is very important to your health, so drink it!! Okay so this is a little harsh but seriously milk is really important for the growth of your bones.

The Air that Could Kill

Have you ever thought that taking a breath could be harming the environment? The recent talk between teens is, “Do you think the world is going to end?” This is what is on everyone’s mind, but no one knows for sure the reason.  Every day, every hour, every minute, and even every second we are breathing in oxygen. Once you take a breath you have to exhale something, and that something could be carbon dioxide.

All about Nickel

Did you know that the element Nickel is named after the devil? According to Uses of the Element Named After the Devil article from An old German tale tells the story of two miners who thought that Old Nick, or the devil was playing tricks on them. They tried to remove this copper looking metal but since it was nickel, it was too hard to remove or chip away unlike copper which is softer. Kupfernickel means “Old Nick’s copper” and that is where the word Nickel comes from.


            What would Las Vegas look like without any neon lights? Well, let us just say that it would look a little different! According to the largest use for neon is in signs. Neon signs are not made by machines, they are almost all made by hand and some of the first neon signs cost as much as $12,000 each!

Aluminum and Alzheimer’s Disease

“Hi, nice to meet you.” Connie says to her 37 year old son, Dave, as he appears in her room at the local nursing home and introduces himself. “Have we met before?” Connie is unaware that Dave is her son because she suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Even though Dave visits her every day, they go through the process of introducing themselves each time because Connie cannot remember who Dave is.

Helium: A Dangerous Game

Balloons, are they good or bad? There is more to a balloon than the funny voice people get when they inhale it! The light-headedness, the blurry vision, and the funny feeling in your stomach, are all huge red flags from your body! I know from experience that too much helium can really make you sick. I found out at a party that after inhaling helium to have the Mickey Mouse voice, something was wrong. I thought I was just tired but after reading about helium asphyxiation, I found I wasn’t tired, but I was starving myself of oxygen!

How an Element is a Source of Security in Japan

            “Although only a few patients have asked about them, I think they are a good thing to have handy,” states nurse practitioner Chris Champagne about patient inquiry of potassium iodine tablets.

Photo courtesy of

After a tragic 9.0 magnitude earthquake in Japan, people are wondering what will happen if there is another nuclear meltdown? How will the people protect themselves? Worldwide, everyone is pondering the answers to these questions. The United States Embassy is a step ahead. Recently, the U.S. embassy has begun distribution of a simple substance that protects thyroid glands from absorbing radioactive iodine. Those on the Yokota and Camp Zama were among the first to stock up on the potassium iodine compound pills, they have not been distributed as of yet.



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