Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Science and Literacy, Part 1

Standard 7 students at Ha-Polaki Primary School, Lesotho
If there's been a consistent pedagogical goal of my career so far, it's been finding the intersection between science and language instruction. It was imperative while teaching 7th grade science in downtown San Jose and East Palo Alto. It became even more essential as a teacher trainer for the Peace Corps in rural Africa. It was the topic of a short-lived PhD effort. And now, as I lead professional development efforts for an informal science institution, it is still at the forefront of what I do.

It's about access. Access to the science content and science process for all students, no matter their language level or ability. And it's about access to academic language in an authentic setting. This issue of access is incredibly important to me. It leads to deeper understanding, motivation, creativity, and the act of thinking of one's self as a scientist.

Of course there's lots of literature on science and literacy. There are a variety of books for every grade band on the topic and with the Next Generation Science Standards and the Common Core being integrated into classrooms, reading, writing and speaking in science is getting more and more attention.

So, I'd like to start a series on some practical ideas I've learned or been working on that focuses on literacy in the science classroom in the service of English Learners.  But first, here are some of my favorite resources on the topic, feel free to share yours in the comment section:

Twitter Chats:
#ellchat - 9:00 - 10:00 EST Mondays
#scichat - 9:00-10:00 EST Tuesdays
#ngsschat - 9:00 - 10:00 EST 1st and 3rd Thursdays

Online Resources:
Learning the Language Blog
NSTA Learning Center

Research Article Authors:
Okhee Lee
Helen Quinn
Gina Cervetti
Trish Stoddart

Writing in Science by Betsy Rupp Fulwiler

Next up, thoughts on motivating ELs to write in science ...