Throughout human history, we have told stories to educate, entertain, and inspire others. The art of telling the stories of science is not that different. However, some people may balk at the idea of telling stories in science—after all, stories are fictional, right? Not really. As Anne E. Greene says in Writing Science in Plain English:
Many scientists see little connection between communicating their science and telling stories. They think of stories as made-up, while science is based on fact. However, to most writers, “story” simply describes a powerful way to communicate information to an audience. Recent research has shown that our brains are wired to recognize stories with a particular structure, one that features characters and their actions, and information presented this way becomes compelling and memorable. Scientists can use these same elements of stories—characters and actions—to write about the real world with the same desirable results. Writing stories about science doesn’t mean making it up or dumbing it down. Rather, we can hang complex ideas on the scaffolding of good, simple stories and make our science as exciting to our audience as it is to us. (2013, 12)
Sand castles in all their summer glory whisper the cross cutting concepts.
A beach walk this week provided Valerie with a perfect opportunity to take a look at sand castles through the framework of the crosscutting concepts. Read on to see how she’s vacationing like a scientist!
On Saturday, July 29th, Heinemann celebrated its fifth annual teacher tour. Each year we invite teachers from all over to join us at our home office to learn from our authors, share in thinking and learning together, and tour the historic mill building that we call home. This year, we were pleased to host authors Ralph Fletcher, Grace Kelemanik, Valerie Bang-Jansen, Mark Lubkowitz, and Cornelius Minor. Each author led a forty minute PD workshop session for the tour participants.
Were you unable to make it to this year's teacher tour? Fear not! We recorded each session LIVE for Facebook, and you can watch all of the videos below, along with the day's tweets and some presenter materials.
In his most recent book, The Curious Classroom, Harvey “Smokey” Daniels dives deep into the who what where why whens and hows of student-directed inquiry. With each chapter, he lays out the next step in a ten-rung ladder to help you get your class from zero to inquiry as quickly as possible.
We wanted to know more about why student-directed inquiry is good for kids, and what teachers and schools have to gain from this approach to learning, so we asked him! Here’s what he had to say:
Gaining knowledge from informational texts is an essential academic skill. Yet for too many English Learners, this skill is not developed sufficiently and as they move from elementary into middle school, the reading gap becomes a knowledge gap. In Reading to Learn for ELs, author Ana Taboada Barber provides models of her instructional framework for reading informational texts so that reading teachers, content-area teachers, and ESL teachers alike can take on the work of teaching English Learners how to succeed and gain knowledge through reading informational texts.
Why should we care about whether teachers rely on lecture? People have lectured throughout history, and many teachers claim this is the most efficient way to cover content. And, in fact, in and of itself the lecture is not a bad method for sharing information, ideas, or perspectives. Many people share their thoughts with others through lectures.
Because learners can participate in well-framed and well-structured lectures for which they have a clear sense of purpose, it is not the lecture that we challenge but rather a conception of learning that makes the teacher the knowledge disseminator and the students receptacles waiting to be filled. Specifically, we challenge the steady diet of teachers and textbooks (or other media) telling, with students regurgitating what they have been told.