Monday, 22 April 2013

Building science literacy K-12

Literacy is such a focus these days, but even before this, the science teacher should realise that you are really teaching a new language called science. So here are a few strategies to help you.
Firstly, if you didn't already know this, the words in the syllabus need to be taught implicitely- you do your studetn no favours at all by using similar or watered down wordds. The syllabus expects your students to know these words.
As an example, I'd like to talk about when the word aesthensophere was in the K-10 science syllabus. I was at a school that used the word mantle instead. They used it in all there exams, because as geology trained teachers they believed there was no need for their year 10 students to know the harder word.
However, I pointed out that in the previous school certificate, the word aesthenosphere was put as an option in a multiple choice answer up against mantle- now we know there can only be one right answer in a multiple choice, so they realised they had been doing their students a dis-service. Please do teach all the technial terms of the syllabus- in year 8 students sit the ESSA, which is a science version of Naplan but based on content. I've also seen a lot of those science words turning up in the Naplan as well!
Now , if you are a primary teacher, you are brillant at teaching literacy, so i'm possibly talking to experts here, but here's some idea of what student will get in high shool.
* Spelling tests and word lists before / after the topic. Please warn your students they be expeted to learn their words in high school without a lot of teacher focus on this, its just part of being a high school student that we give you a list of word at the beginning of topic to learn, we won't necessarily remind the student or practise in class, as we expect students had spelling lists in primary school
* Vocab- similar to spelling list but looking for meaning, so not so important that its spelt correct. I do this as a regular quiz  with just 10 words at the end of a lesson.
* I cool idea I stole form a kids show, a word game where kids have to guess the word as their partner tries to give verbal and non-verbal clues clues.The only rules is that you can't use the word or a derivative of the word, say the homophone etc. They even had categories like " traffic verbs".
* Coloring in sheets: instructions;
Stage 3 Natural Environments; Colour in these words, according to this code:
Yellow= forms of energy
White= types of forces
Blue= observable changes in the environment
Green= signs of being a living thing
Red= scientific technology
When you have finished, you will have a picture!

Here is the coloring sheet- feel free to use it and let me know how it goes.
The beauty of this sheet is that students can self correct when they see a word is the wrong colour, also they can predict what group it belongs to based on the gaps in the colouring in.

* More ideas:  adapting the game shown here ;super speed 100

* using apps to help readers: general help with literacy

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