Integrating the Common Core Literacy Skills in Science Classes
Posted: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014
by Heather Wygant
By now, all of you should know that Common Core-ELA is not just for English teachers; all teachers need to integrate writing into their classrooms: especially the sciences! We’re in luck though, because in science we commonly use two main types of writing that align well with Common Core-ELA: informational and argumentative. So how do I make sure my students are actually using Common Core writing strategies?
Here are some tips for making easy connections to the Common Core-ELA Standards for your science classroom.
1. Add more writing to your science class
You may already be integrating the writing of research papers, formal lab reports and science articles (or even short blogs!) into your classroom activities, but if you’re not – get on it! This is a simple way to get your students writing about science in several different ways. While research papers may be more formal, science articles can take more of an argumentative approach, allowing students to understand the difference and develop their writing skills in both areas. Also, don’t forget about the value of peer review and feedback for greater clarity. This can be intimidating for some students, but also bring greater thought to the activity – they are under pressure to make sure that not only you understand their work, but their classmates do too!
2. Integrating close reading strategies
Don’t just read textbooks in your classroom. Teaching students about the wealth of materials available (from newspapers to journal articles) to find out information about scientific topics is one of the greatest lifelong skills you can teach them! I use a host of different sources from the Smithsonian to the National Geographic to physorg.com. Of course you need to be cautious about this as well; for every wonderful science news site there are 10 terrible ones. Teaching your students how to identify the difference is a great skill that will stay with them long into their adulthood. I recommend having a weekly science article assignment in which students need to annotate and summarize the materials.
3. How do I grade all this writing?!?!
Now, that I’ve told you what I think you should do, you may be thinking: I’m not an English teacher, how am I supposed to grade all this writing?!
Don’t panic! Just because you don’t teach writing, doesn’t mean that you don’t know how to evaluate good writing. For help, seek out the English department for rubrics on informational and argumentative writing, or use this online rubric maker. If you are doing lab reports, break up the sections throughout the year (Introduction in September, Methods in December, Results in March etc.). This can help the students develop their skills as well without getting overwhelmed.
But don’t just listen to me – as many people are starting to dive into how to bring greater literacy to the science classroom through Common Core and otherwise. Here are some additional links that should help you get going!
- Common Core Literacy in Science writing and reading standards (pp. 89-90 for reading and pp. 92-95 for writing.)
- Reading & Writing Strategies
- Common Cores Standards Professional Learning Modules on Science Literacy
- Best Science Writing Online
- Front-Page Science: Engaging Teens in Science Literacy
- Science Stories: Using Case Studies to Teach Critical Thinking
Posted: Wednesday, October 12th, 2016
by Jessica Sawko
In June 2016 California submitted a waiver application to discontinue using the old CST (based on 1998 standards) and conduct two years of pilot and field tests (in spring 2017 and 2018, respectively) of the new science assessment designed to support our state’s current science standards (California Next Generation Science Standards (CA-NGSS) adopted in 2013). The waiver was requested because no student scores will be provided as a part of the pilot and field tests. The CDE received a response from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) on September 30, 2016, which provides the CDE the opportunity to resubmit a revised waiver request within 60 days. The CDE will be revising the waiver request and resubmitting as ED suggested.
At its October 2016 North/South Assessment meetings CDE confirmed that there will be no administration of the old CST in the spring of 2017. (An archive of the meeting is available at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/ai/infomeeting.asp.) Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
by Carol Peterson
1) To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It’s called “The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks” and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided “tour” from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails. Ideas are included for use in classrooms. https://www.engadget.com/2016/08/25/google-offers-360-degree-tours-of-us-national-parks/. Learn More…
Posted: Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
CSTA is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 CSTA Awards for Distinguished Contributions, Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, 2014 and 2015 PAEMST-Science recipients from California, and the 2016 California PAEMST Finalists. The following individuals and organizations will be honored during the 2016 California Science Education Conference on October 21- 23 in Palm Springs. This year’s group of awardees are truly outstanding. Please join us in congratulating them!
Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award
The Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award honors an individual who has made a significant contribution to science education in the state and who, through years of leadership and service, has truly made a positive impact on the quality of science teaching. This year’s recipient is John Keller, Ph.D. Dr. Keller is Associate Professor, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and Co-Director, Center for Engineering, Science, and Mathematics Education, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. In her letter of recommendation, SDSU science education faculty and former CSTA board member Donna Ross wrote: “He brings people together who share the desire to make a difference in the development and implementation of programs for science teaching. Examples of these projects include the Math and Science Teaching Initiative (MSTI), Noyce Scholars Program, Western Regional Noyce Initiative, and the Science Teacher and Researcher (STAR) program.” Through his work, he has had a dramatic impact on science teacher education, both preservice and in-service, in California, the region, and the country. He developed and implemented the STEM Teacher and Researcher Program which aims to produce excellent K-12 STEM teachers by providing aspiring teachers with opportunities to do authentic research while helping them translate their research experience into classroom practice. SFSU faculty member Larry Horvath said it best in his letter:“John Keller exemplifies the best aspects of a scientist, science educator, and mentor. His contributions to science education in the state of California are varied, significant, and I am sure will continue well into the future.” Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Peter A’hearn
NGSS is a big shift. Teachers need to learn new content, figure out how this whole engineering thing relates to science, and develop new unit and lesson plans. How could NGSS possibly make life easier?
The idea that NGSS could make our lives easier came to me during the California State NGSS Rollout #1 Classroom Example lesson on chromatography. I have since done this lesson with high school chemistry students and it made me think back to having my own students do chromatography. I spent lots of time preparing to make sure the experiment went well and achieved the “correct” result. I pre-prepared the solutions and organized and prepped the materials. I re-wrote and re-wrote again the procedure so there was no way a kid could get it wrong. I spent 20 minutes before the lab modeling all of the steps in class, so there was no way to do it wrong. Except that it turns out there were many. Learn More…
Posted: Tuesday, September 20th, 2016
by Robert C. Victor. Twilight sky maps by Robert D. Miller. Graph of evening planet setting times by Dr. Jeffrey L. Hunt
Our evening twilight chart for September, depicting the sky about 40 minutes after sunset from SoCal, shows brilliant Venus remaining low, creeping from W to WSW and gaining a little altitude as the month progresses. Its close encounter within 2.5° N of Spica on Sept. 18 is best seen with binoculars to catch the star low in bright twilight. The brightest stars in the evening sky are golden Arcturus descending in the west, and blue-white Vega passing just north of overhead. Look for Altair and Deneb completing the Summer Triangle with Vega. The triangle of Mars-Saturn-Antares expands as Mars seems to hold nearly stationary in SSW as the month progresses, while Saturn and Antares slink off to the SW. Learn More…