January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Integrating Science and English Language Development

Posted: Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

by Valerie Joyner

Teachers frequently see children light up with excitement about science activities, and nothing motivates language development like the hunger to express exciting new ideas.  For the past two years the Exploratorium Institute for Inquiry (IFI) and the Sonoma Valley Unified School District (SVUSD) have teamed up to explore the powerful connections between language acquisition and science.  Armed with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, the Vadasz Family Foundation, and the Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, El Verano Elementary School has brought science lessons into the mainstream of English Language Development.

The IFI and El Verano School have been working together to develop a model set of hands-on inquiry-based science lessons that actively promote English language development.  The program uses open-ended science investigations along with science notebooks and oral presentations to promote academic and conversational language.

SVUSD presents a perfect challenge scenario for testing the integration of language and science learning, with a district wide population of 58 percent English Language Learners (ELL). El Verano, specifically, has 70 percent ELL students and is now in year five of Program Improvement status of the federal No Child Left Behind law.  It’s a tribute to this extraordinary program that as of 2009, the school and all its subgroups have met state academic growth targets.

“Inquiry is a wonderful way to teach kids.  It honors who they are, where they are, and what they are thinking,” says El Verano principal Maite Iturri.  “It gives them a reason to want to know the language.  Language happens in context, by having those experiences in the classroom.”

Craig Madison, a third grade teacher at El Verano, states, “Science is this case is the vehicle for (English language development).  It is so mutually beneficial.  It’s giving the students a reason why they should know a meaning and why they should speak—because they have something that has a deep, rich meaning to think about.”

Last year, the students in Madison’s class were handed flashlights and mirrors and … the classroom lights went out.  The students were given time to explore the concept of light reflection on their own.  “We know kids are curious, we know they like to play,” says Madison.  “When they are allowed to discover things on their own, they really retain that.”

After the initial exploratory period, the students worked in small groups to determine a question they wanted to investigate.  They took ownership of the direction their investigation would take.  Students put together their own lesson with an educated hypothesis and steps they would follow.  They made discoveries and put together a poster outline of their findings.  Their final task was to give a presentation of their findings.

“It’s fun.  You can experience stuff you don’t really know about,” said one of Madison’s students.  “My science projects has helped me learn to speak English better at school because I have new words.”

The idea of integrating science and English Language Development is not new.  Research has shown that language development in students can be stifled by their inability to access and comprehend science terms and concepts in reading, writing, and through discourse.  There has also been a connection between strong language development and the use of rich hands-on science activities with an inquiry-based approach.  These techniques give students opportunities to first experience the science they’re learning, before being asked to comprehend, apply, and discuss it.

These pioneering local teachers, fresh from a successful launch, plan to integrate the program into all the schools in Sonoma Valley.  Over the course of the next three years, teachers in the pilot group will disseminate the program to 90 district colleagues in the form of workshops, videos, and classroom visits.  The Institute for Inquiry will then teach educators how to use the program through the variety of workshops and forums they provide to school districts nationwide.

The thrill of discovery inherent in science exploration goes to the very core of the purpose of early education: learning to learn and learning to love learning.  Now science educators can look forward to another powerful program for igniting the love of learning in our students.

Valerie Joyner teaches elementary school in Petaluma and is CSTA’s region 1 director.

Written by Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner

Valerie Joyner is a retired elementary science educator and is a member of CSTA.

2 Responses

  1. This should be a shot in the arm for the state’s ELD program and elementary science curriculum, which has been on the back burner for years. Since math and language arts have taken much of the prime time for schools in the program improvement status arena, it would make sense to combine both curriculum areas!

  2. I’d love to find an update on this work! The NSTA has an interesting article (possibly related?) and things look good.

    http://www.nsta.org/highschool/connections/201206Zwiep.pdf

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LATEST POST

California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

DATES & LOCATIONS
MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

The Teaching and Learning Collaborative, Reflections from an Administrator

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

by Kelly Patchen

My name is Mrs. Kelly Patchen, and I am proud to be an elementary assistant principal working in the Tracy Unified School District (TUSD) at Louis Bohn and McKinley Elementary Schools. Each of the schools I support are Title I K-5 schools with about 450 students, a diverse student population, a high percentage of English Language Learners, and students living in poverty. We’re also lucky to be part of the CA NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative with the K-12 Alliance. Learn More…

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

CSTA is pleased to announce that we are now accepting proposals for 90-minute workshops and three- and six-hour short courses for the 2018 California Science Education Conference. Workshops and short courses make up the bulk of the content and professional learning opportunities available at the conference. In recognition of their contribution, members who present a workshop or short course receive 50% off of their registration fees. Click for more information regarding proposals, or submit one today by following the links below.

Short Course Proposal

Workshop Proposal Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

by Holly Steele

The California Science Teachers Association’s mission is to promote high-quality science education, and one of the best practice’s we use to fulfill that mission is through the use of our Facebook group pages. CSTA hosts several closed and moderated Facebook group pages for specific grade levels, (Elementary, Middle, and High School), pages for district coaches and science education faculty, and the official CSTA Facebook page. These pages serve as an online resource for teachers and coaches to exchange teaching methods, materials, staying update on science events in California and asking questions. CSTA is happy to announce the creation of a 6th group page called, California Administrators Supporting Science. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.