Supporting Literacy and Writing to Learn in Science
This course will provide a deeper understanding of the importance of supporting literacy in the science classroom and tools and procedures for accomplishing this goal. Why is this important? Every science lesson is also a language lesson. Learning the specialized language of science is an important step in learning science. Science has a special vocabulary, words such as mole, quark and epithelium, which are not often used in everyday discourse. Science also has special meanings for words more commonly used, such as power, wave and field. Furthermore, science uses special logical connectives, words which describe relationships between concepts. If students do not correctly understand the relationship, they may fail to properly perceive the relationship between the major concepts. Current research suggests that middle school students confuse key science terms with their antonyms up to 30% of the time! Simply stated, language is a major barrier to learning science, whether students are native speakers or not.
Science educators have historically tended to focus on teaching science knowledge and skills to their students, using a variety of methods: laboratory activities, lectures, demonstrations and more. Lately, emphasis has been placed on writing in the science classrooms. Whether students are taking notes or observations or writing a formal lab report, research and practical experience suggests that language is an essential part of science learning. Furthermore, all learners can develop their language skills through authentic experiences (e.g., Bybee, 2002). Lab-Aids®' work in the area of "writing to learn in science" has focused on using journals in the science classroom. Science journals and notebooks can promote literacy in the classroom, both written and oral, as well as help promote reading and vocabulary development, and help identify misconceptions for more effective teaching and learning.
The workshop will provide an overview of effective procedures for writing to learn in the science classroom, regardless of the specific curriculum in use. It is appropriate for middle and high school science teachers.
Participants will receive a copy of The New Science Literacy, by Marlene Their, published by Heinemann Press.