Rocuns hav clas and tay halp tam clam. The rocuns coud clam on the trees.
“Raccoons have claws and tail [that] help them climb. The raccoons could climb on the trees.” This is a first grader’s sketch and write done from observation of photographs in science class. Some children spent the bulk of their time adding details to their drawings, which resulted in sparse written descriptions but vivid images that (I feel) show many of the understandings about animal diversity and structural adaptations touched on in the lesson. One of the interesting parts about having to “grade” this work is that literacy and science are assessed within a single rubric, so children whose writing is less developed are penalized even if their scientific understanding is superior.
It seems unfair that drawings are not considered sufficient evidence of learning in science class. It also seems wrong that children who wrote what (to them!) were very obvious statements (“raccoons have tails”) received higher science marks than kids who turned in anatomically precise images showing these very tails in action. Sigh. Sure, drawings may require more interpretation and close observation from the teacher, and I can empathize with the impulse to rely on “writing to prove learning” across the content areas (and with such young children) while continuing to insist that it is misguided. Drawing is a way of seeing, the arts are a valid way of knowing.