May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Reading and Science Processes in One

Posted: Monday, April 1st, 2013

by Lisa Hegdahl

If you are like me, you are being asked to begin implementing the Common Core Standards in my science classroom.  With the help of district trainings, and a curriculum coach to observe delivery of my literacy instruction, I have managed to do so.  Although the lessons have been reasonably successful, I realized I tended to move quickly back to science processes where students are doing science – asking questions, making predictions, and testing hypothesizes.  This past week, though, I had the opportunity to visit a literacy lesson taught by the 8th grade science team at Rancho Medanos Junior High in Pittsburgh, California.  I ended the day knowing it’s possible to combine science processes with reading literacy in a way I had not considered before. 

As students entered the classroom, there was a three-paragraph reading assignment on their desks.  Instructions at the front of the room asked the students to read the selection and circle words they had any questions about – for example, unfamiliar words, words they could not pronounce, etc.  When the bell rang to start class, the teacher used the first paragraph of the reading to explain elastic forces, and then students used manipulatives that were in baskets at their desks to pick out objects that demonstrated the concept of elastic forces.  This was the first literacy lesson I have seen where reading was used in conjunction with science lab materials.  As the lesson progressed, the students read the selected science paragraphs with the teacher, working through both unfamiliar vocabulary and concepts. The desktop materials gave students a chance to experience the science they were reading about, predict what might come next, and show the teacher immediately if they could apply what they were reading in a tangible way.

A brief opportunity to speak with the instructors afterwards revealed how they choose the readings very purposefully.  Carefully selected diagrams within the reading also give students occasion to apply the new concepts to alternate situations.  I am eager to incorporate more lab-type aspects into my literacy lessons and to, with practice, build upon the best of both strategies.

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Written by Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl

Lisa Hegdahl is an 8th-grade science teacher at McCaffrey Middle School in Galt, CA and is Past-President of CSTA.

One Response

  1. Great article Lisa! This is something everyone is trying to figure out. It is important that we push back against the idea that working on literacy replaces doing science, but understand that literacy is part of doing science. Scientists need to read to find out what other scientists have already learned and how they learned it.

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CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.