For me, my standard says students have to diagram and explain the water cycle (et al). This assignment, a RAFT creative writing assignment, is a great way to get the students to explain the water cycle and practice their writing skills, and comes with a tool to reduce grading time. Anyone can make a RAFT for just about any topic. If you've never done a RAFT, here's the basic outline of the assignment:
R - Role of the writer (are you a cell membrane, a water molecule, etc)
A - Audience (who are you writing to?)
F - Format (informal, formal, texting, twitter, etc)
T - Topic (the meat of the assignment, what is the writer writing about exactly.)
For this RAFT students assume the role of a water molecule and the topic begins when the student sublimates away from their once home glacier. While writing, the student must use water cycle vocabulary correctly and meaningfully, which is part of the directions. This fun and energetic topic (I can't give too many details away) will stimulate creativity in your students and includes the beloved narwhal (never met a marine science student who did not like them or think they are quirky).
While that's fun and all, don't forget you have to grade these later - which is not fun nor energetic. HOWEVER, this RAFT comes packed with a teacher-tool in the directions for students to follow that will help reduce grading time while holding student accountable for their learning. I indicated for this assignment that an answer key is not included, but if your students do this RAFT correctly, an answer key is sort of included.
It's fun to see your students get into this assignment, get excited about what they wrote, and they'll want you to read it right there. That's a slippery slope, as once one student has you read his or hers you'll see about 6 others who need the same. I ask them which section might be best for me to read, or if they are not sure if the used a vocabulary word correctly.
-- This RAFT is designed to reinforce and teach the water cycle, however I also use it in conjunction with the vocabulary we cover in our previous unique properties of water unit. You may leave that vocab in the assignment, change it, or remove it. Totally up to you.
-- I like to pair music, with my lessons in school. For this assignment when I was working on it, Tom Petty's "Into the great wide open" came on, and I thought that'd be neat to play in the background as I prepare the kids for the assignment since water molecules evaporate into the great wide open. If you do not like that, you can just remove it.