May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Supporting Common Core ELA Standards in the High School Science Classroom

Posted: Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

by Jeff Orlinsky

Hello CSTA Members, my name is Jeff Orlinsky and I am the CSTA High School Director. I am a biology teacher and have been teaching at the same school for the last 27 years. During that time, I have watched a lot of “educational reforms,” and the roll out of the Common Core Standards is just the next chapter in my career. My science department is just beginning to feel the impact of the Common Core language arts standards in the science classroom. This academic school year, the science department will begin incorporating several reading and writing Common Core standards and strategies into our curriculum.

I’d like to acknowledge that many science teachers already incorporate reading and writing and I am not suggesting you stop what you are using to try something different. On the contrary, I am proposing a way to support what you are already doing in the classroom and make your lessons support the Common Core Standards.

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There are many changes in the Common Core Standards that may affect our science curriculum. First, the Common Core reading levels as measured by readability or “Lexile Scores” are more rigorous than the past ELA standards. Second, teachers need to be more attentive to the text structure, language, and the purpose of the text when incorporating reading in the classroom. Third, teachers need to create tasks that are accessible and challenging to our students, and lastly, we have to help our students learn that reading is a form of accessing information.

Here is a series of steps that you can use to make the transition from simply reading and answering questions to reading an article to obtain content.

Once you have selected a topic, provide several articles or written resources for your students to read. Using the web resources below, determine the grade level or the Lexile scores. I would recommend that you have samples of text from several different reading levels available for the students to read.

One type of strategy is called close reading. Select texts you want the students to read, and use these steps to help guide your students through the text.

  • Purpose for the reading: Decide why you want to use these articles; do they have new information for students to find? Do the articles or text support or contradict a scientific argument?
  • Determine one or two overarching questions to be answered by the article, i.e. “how is this article different from what we have learned in class?”
  • How will students engage with the text (annotations, graphic organizers)? Which vocabulary do I need to frontload prior to the students reading the text?
  • Have 2-5 text-dependent questions. These questions are specific to the text, maybe recall or analysis-level questions.
  • Writing Assignment: Have the students respond to your purpose or overarching questions. You can determine the appropriate length of the assignment.

Web Resources

Appendix B Text Exemplars and Sample performance Tasks (pdf)

Lexile Conversion Charts

Readability-Score Calculator

 

Written by Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky

Jeff Orlinsky teaches science at Warren High School and is a member of CSTA.

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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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. 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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. 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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

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