Lesson Plan

The "Write" Stuff

small volcanoes

Robert Limbert explored, photographed and wrote about his experiences at Craters of the Moon in the 1920's.

Robert Limbert

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade
Subject:
History, Writing
Duration:
1-3 hours plus homework
Group Size:
Up to 36
Setting:
classroom
National/State Standards:
CCRA.W.2, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.W.5, CCRA.W.6, CCRA.W.7
NGSS.SEP.8

Overview

After the field trip to Craters, students use their field notebooks and knowledge they have gained through pre-trip activities to write two papers. (CLASSROOM ACTIVITY)

Objective(s)

  • Students will be able to write about Craters demonstrating what they learned about its geology, cultural history, and/or ecology.
  • Students will be able to write in two different writing styles.
  • Students will be able to identify objective and subjective writing.

 

Background

In part because Robert Limbert could express his views on paper, Craters of the Moon National Monument was established. In several articles the explorer described the unique character of the land and promoted his view that it should be preserved in its natural state. Largely as a result of Limbert's written word, President Calvin Coolidge declared Craters of the Moon a National Monument in 1924.

Few skills are as important as writing-few are as complex and difficult to master, as well. Now that your students have visited Craters and studied its geology, cultural history, and ecology, have them reinforce what they learned by writing about it. If they put effort into the assignment and experience some frustration as they struggle with it, they will learn writing skills.

Two different writing styles are informal non-scientific and formal scientific. When Robert Limbert wrote about Craters of the Moon in his 1924 National Geographic article, he objectively described it in a formal scientific, irrefutable, and factual way. For example, "The district consists of some 63 volcanic craters, lava, and cinder cones, all at present extinct or dormant." Limbert also had a viewpoint. He thought Craters of the Moon was a beautiful place that should be preserved for posterity. In expressing this view in the same article, he expressed his opinion and used language that was less formal: ". . . its scenery is impressive in its grandeur."

Articles like Limbert's that occur in popular magazines usually convey a blend of scientific and non-scientific writing styles. The story is told, the place described, the incident reported, and the process explained. But the author reveals himself or herself by expressing a viewpoint and supporting that opinion through objective observation.

Authors of scientific journal articles, however, usually leave out obvious statements of opinion or emotive sentences. The language is straightforward, formal, and succinct; sentences are clear and declarative. The author's viewpoint is de-emphasized and subtle. Likewise, model newspaper articles are written objectively, without editorializing. The writer's viewpoint may be difficult to determine or only surmised by omission of certain facts or emphasis of others.

The most frequently read part of newspapers are editorials and popular magazines are more popular than scientific journals. Readers prefer authors' viewpoints revealed. They like to agree or disagree and they like to know something about the human behind the by-line.

Much of our informational reading is heavily influenced by the author's opinion. Readers must make a conscious effort to separate the author's objectivity from subjectivity to fully comprehend what he or she is saying. Students' critical thinking skills are enhanced when they recognize these two different messages while reading an article.

See "Additional Resources" for more information on the history of Craters of the Moon.

From the Teacher's Guide to Craters of the Moon.

Materials

Scientific vs. Non-scientific worksheet

 

Procedure

Additional Resources

History of Craters of the Moon

Vocabulary

formal scientific writing
non-scientific writing