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Interdisciplinary STEM Writing Foundations

Open to: Grades 3–5

Eligibility: CTY-level or Advanced CTY-level math or verbal score required

Prerequisites: Successful completion of Vocabulary, Grammar, and Writing Using STEM, Intermediate I or a CTY English Language Development placement test.

Course Format: Session BasedSee calendar for session dates and application deadlines.

Course Length: 12 weeks (Early Fall, Late Fall, Winter, Spring, Early Summer, Mid-Summer)

Course Code: ISW1

Course Description


CTY’s online English language development courses are challenging, above-grade-level courses designed for students in grades 2 and up who seek to enhance their English writing skills with the emphasis on building strong grammar and vocabulary. These courses advance each student’s English academic content language in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math for academic writing in those areas.

Interdisciplinary STEM Writing Foundations is designed for both native and non-native English speakers. In this course, students will improve and augment their STEM essay writing skills and advance their general and STEM vocabulary and grammar through a focus on writing effective paragraphs.

This course has synchronous virtual class meetings and students will also schedule one-on-one virtual meetings directly with the instructor and teaching assistant. View the schedule for class meeting times. Meetings will be recorded for students who are unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts. The interactive lessons will give students the opportunity to take risks and have fun while working on improving English grammar, speaking, listening, reading, and composition skills. The virtual classroom includes live audio and video interaction with the instructor and online classmates, interactive whiteboard, multimedia learning materials including games, and other features to enhance online learning.

In this course, students will:

  • Read several topics and become more familiar and comfortable with reading informational texts in English.
  • Appropriately incorporate the STEM vocabulary covered in this course in your communications and writing.
  • Appropriately use the grammar and composition skills covered in this course in your writing.
  • Use several techniques for brainstorming and generating ideas for paragraphs and develop a plan for outlining paragraphs.
  • Analyze paragraphs to extract and identify the main components of a well-written paragraph.
  • Write effective paragraphs in four domains of writing: illustrative, process analysis, descriptive, argumentative.

By the end of this course, students will acquire more STEM concepts, knowledge, and vocabulary. This course will prepare eligible students to take CTY’s online science, engineering, and math courses. Review course prerequisites carefully prior to enrolling

Virtual classrooms, and student activities in the classroom, may be recorded and added to the course as an ongoing asset for all class students to review. Students may be invited to interact in CTY community spaces that include students and instructors and potentially specially invited guests that are not enrolled in their course. Videos from YouTube or other web providers may be present in the course. Video recommendations or links provided at end of videos are generated by the video host provider and are not CTY recommendations. Student contributions (e.g., projects, forum posts, etc.) may remain in the course after the student completes the course. These artifacts may be preserved to showcase student work or to continue important conversations.

Materials Needed

Students must purchase a headset with a microphone. A microphone with an on/off switch is recommended.

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

This course provides an introduction to essay writing. Students will focus on improving paragraph writing and understanding the differences between different types of paragraphs.

Students will:

  • Comprehend and identify the features of a good paragraph
  • Recognize the difference between various types of paragraphs and their purposes
  • Develop an understanding of the essential parts of an essay
WeekLessonSTEM TopicGrammar Topic
11The Scientific MethodIntroductions/Journal Writing
Course Overview and Tour
2The Scientific MethodQuestions/Review
Look at:  Main Features of Paragraphs, Verbs, Sentence Fragments, Simple Present and Past Tense Verbs, Imperative Sentences, Narrative Writing and the Use of “I”
21Plate Tectonics and Earth MovementsIllustrative Paragraph Features
2Plate Tectonics and Earth MovementsQuestions/Review
The Importance of Brainstorming
Look at:  Subject-Verb Agreement 
31Weathering, Soil, and ErosionQuestions/Review
Look at:  Good Topic Sentences, Sentence Fragments and Comma Splices, and More Brainstorming Practice 
2Weathering, Soil, and ErosionQuestions/Review
Illustrative Paragraph Peer Editing
Look at:  Using Quotations and Citing Ideas to Avoid Plagiarism
41Atoms and ElementsQuestions/Review/Peer Editing
Definition Paragraphs Part 2
Look at:  Good Supporting Sentences, Using Pronouns for Key Nouns, Good Concluding Sentences, and Articles
2Atoms and ElementsQuestions/Review
Process Analysis Paragraphs
Look at: Simple Adjective Clauses and Combining Sentences for Variety
51The Periodic TableBrainstorming/Journal Writing
2The Periodic TableQuestions/Review/Peer Editing
Denotation and Connotation
61STEM Midterm ReviewMidterm Review
2STEM Midterm ReviewMidterm Review
71Physical and Chemical Properties of MatterBrainstorming/Journal Writing
Writing Descriptive Paragraphs Part 1
2Physical and Chemical Properties of MatterQuestions/Review/Peer Editing
Using Facts, Counterarguments,  and Refutations
81MotionWriting Descriptive Paragraphs Part 2
Questions/Review/Peer Editing
Word Forms
2MotionBrainstorming/Journal Writing
91Simple MachinesWriting Argument Paragraphs Part 1
Questions/Review/Peer Editing
Using Vivid Language
2Simple MachinesQuestions/Review/Peer Editing
Verb Tense Consistency
101Magnetism and ElectromagnetismWriting Argument Paragraphs Part 2
Constructing an Essay Part 1
Varied Vocabulary/ Creating an Outline for Your Essay
2Magnetism and ElectromagnetismQuestions/Review/Peer Editing
Constructing an Essay Part 2
Thesis Statement
111Genes and TraitsQuestions/Review/Peer Editing
Constructing an Essay Part 3
2Genes and TraitsQuestions/Review/Peer Editing
Constructing an Essay Part 4
121Final Review of All STEM Topics CoveredGrammar Review for Final Exam Part 1 & 2


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Time Required

Students should expect to spend about 5-7 hours per week on this course.

Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

Zoom online virtual classroom
This course uses an online virtual classroom which can be used for instructor-student communication if the student has any questions about the course or curriculum. The classroom works on standard computers with the Zoom desktop client and also tablets or handhelds that support the Zoom Mobile app. Students will need a computer with the Zoom desktop client installed to watch any recorded meetings. The Zoom desktop client and Zoom Mobile App are both available for free download.

This course uses Respondus LockDown Browser proctoring software for designated assessments. LockDown Browser is a client application that is installed to a local computer. Visit the Respondus website for system requirements.

While Chromebook can be used to progress through the course, all exams must be completed on a PC or Mac.