Take 5! for Science: 150 Helpful Prompts

Take 5! for Science: 150 prompts that build writing and critical thinking skills
By Kaye Hagler and Judy Elgin Jensen
(Capstone, 2016 – Learn more)

vonstaden3Reviewed by Laura Von Staden

Take 5! is a handy science resource targeted for elementary teachers, including grades 4 and 5. The book provides enough prompts to use throughout the entire school year with the goal of helping students to tie science, writing and critical thinking together early in their careers.

All three major areas of science are covered (Physical, Life, and Earth science) with an emphasis on the key concepts identified by the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards) and employment of the Science and Engineering Practices.

take 5 science vonstadenEach topic addressed in the book has a section for the teacher that includes information to help them refresh their knowledge of the topic with interesting (and sometimes little known) data, common misconceptions and links to topics in other content areas and the real world. There are two prompts for each topic: an Explore level, which is simpler and written in larger text; and a Dig Deeper level which is more advanced.

For each set of prompts the authors provide a supply list (which most often is the students’ science notebook, which the authors encourage the use of so that students learn to act like scientists), the NGSS and CCSS (Common Core State Standards), Language Links (Opinion, Narrative Writing, etc.), and a list of additional resources.

The book meets its four objectives (p. ix) . . .

Objective 1: Promote engagement—bringing students to the table or desk for a quick burst of critical thinking

Objective 2: Incorporate writing into each science topic

Objective 3: Assist teachers by aligning each prompt with the standards

Objective 4: Provide daily practice in responding to a prompt in a timed-response environment

. . .by providing prompts that require students to construct science meaning through open-ended responses. Some of the prompts require students to make sense of data tables or photographs (which are nice examples). The authors also provide two different levels of rubrics that can be used to assign a score to the prompt answers, if desired.

Overall, I think this is a great resource that could be used through 6th grade or even higher for students needing differentiation. In fact, I anticipate using some of the prompts with my intellectually disabled 7th and 8th graders. I like that the prompt levels are not labeled by grade, so that if they were used with students who were performing below grade level, the students would not feel inadequate by having a lower grade level listed on the prompts.

The prompts could also easily be used for transitions, for introductions to the topics, or as “Do Now”/Bell work because they are designed to take 5 to 10 minutes. Very useful resource.

Dr. Laura Von Staden is a Middle School Special Education Lead Teacher in Tampa, Florida. She serves on numerous committees both at her school and within her district and works closely with the local university where she is a Professional Practice Partner and a master mentor. Dr. Von Staden also facilitates both online and face-to-face Professional Development for her school district.



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