Students are beginning to get how to gather evidence to support their science ideas. Eureka!!! I finally was able to design a graphic organizer that pulls it apart enough for them to get the supporting steps necessary. It was remarkably simple.
I just used Word to create a 3 column table. The concept they were working on was listed in the left hand column, followed by a column for the evidence they found in their textbook(citing the page number, of course) and the last columns was evidence from lab experiences. I can tell it's working because of our class conversation. They were stretching to figure out how to cross reference the information...ie file it under a different heading. Once they figured out how to take the analysis questions from the lab and file them into something other than the name of the lab, presto!!!! they figured out that what they learned in the lab related to a BIGGER science question.
That gave way to me thinking about how I needed to design another thinking shell. It needs to literally walk them through the synthesis process. Maybe starting off with a statement about what they know from the textbook, then what they know from the labs and then at the bottom having them write a topic sentence. Right after the topic sentence having a fill in the blank with restating what was above it so it flows like one idea or one small paragraph.
I know this sounds dull. But it's huge in helping kids think about science ideas and in getting them to write scientifically.