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The New Science Literacy

Using Language Skills to Help Students Learn Science

By Bennett Daviss, Marlene Thier
Foreword by Harold Pratt

Learn to teach science through language literacy. Discover the instructional synergy and power that result from combining the two subjects and see how teachers can use practical classroom techniques to combine these subjects at different grade levels, from elementary to high school.

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Full Description

Whether you're a teacher new to science or a veteran teacher of science, here's a powerful new tool for teaching the subject through language literacy. This book explains how—how instructional synergy and power result from combining the two subjects. And it shows how—how teachers can use practical classroom techniques for combining these subjects at different grade levels, from elementary to high school.

Unlike other books that concentrate on reading and writing, this book defines "literacy in science" as more encompassing: it includes speaking, listening, and media analysis. In chapters devoted to each of these literacy skills, authors Marlene Thier and Bennett Daviss detail specific metacognitive techniques that teachers can use to coach students to become independent learners. By combining science, language, and guided inquiry, teachers can empower students to think and express themselves about science more effectively, improving their learning and retention. To this end, the authors provide lists of explicit performance expectations in each of the five areas of literacy for learning science. Reproducible pages including these performance expectations, graphics, and other metacognitive aids can be used by teachers and students alike to guide and assess growth in the use of language through science activities.

In addition to helping teachers in their daily teaching practices, The New Science Literacy addresses more widespread concerns among today's science educators, including the needs

  • to reassert the rightful place of science in a basic curriculum
  • to strengthen teaching skills and strategies among elementary educators unsure of science content and/or the teaching of language skills
  • to help middle- and high-school science teachers raise student achievements in science by using language as an essential element of their science programs
  • to enhance the movements for accountability, standards, and educational improvement.

As Harold Pratt, President of the National Science Teachers Association, confirms, this book "places the development of language literacy in the context of inquiry-based, activity-oriented science instruction called for in the National Science Education Standards.…[It] embraces the richness and usefulness of language as a germane aspect of students' science learning experiences."

(click any section below to continue reading)


I. The New Science Literacy: What It Is and Why We Need It
1. Merging Science and Language
2. Activities That Merge Language and Science
II. How to Implement the New Science Literacy in the Classroom
3. Tools for the New Science Literacy: Performance Expectations, Student Metacognition Strategies, and Strategies for Explicit Teaching
4. Reading: Paths to Better Comprehension
5. Writing: Paths to Clear Expression
6. Speaking and Listening: Paths to Clear Understanding
7. Media Literacy: Paths to Awareness
III. What the New Science Literacy Means in the Classroom and Beyond
8. If You Teach from a Textbook
9. Fusing Science and Literacy: Practical Steps to Implementation
10. Making Parents a Vital Part of the New Science Literacy
11. Building Bridges to Literacy in Your Science Program
Performance Expectations, Student Metacognitive Strategies, and Strategies for Explicit Teaching


Companion Resources

These companion resources contain full sized ready-to-copy lists of student performance expectations, guides to student metacognitive strategies, and aids for explicit teaching strategies for each of the five areas of literacy as detailed in Chapters 4 through 7, reading, writing, speaking and listening, and the critical analysis of media. For ease of use, the order of the material generally mirrors that in the chapters. You will notice that additional strategies have been added that appear only in the chapters and not in the original Appendix. All the strategies can be copied directly from the site to be used with students. It is suggested that students paste the performance expectations and the metacognition prompts directly into their science notebooks so that they can be used multiple times. Using these strategies will help your students become independent learners more responsible for their own progress in science.

Click on the links below to view and print the documents:

  1. Reading
  2. Student Performance Expectations for Reading Comprehension
    Reading Comprehension Prompts for Students
    Guidelines for Reciprocal Teaching
    Searching for Evidence
    Science Fact Triangle
    Write as You Read Science: Guidelines for Students
    Herringbone Graphic
    Concept Mapping
    Venn Diagram

  3. Writing
  4. Student Generic Performance Expectations for Writing
    Student Performance Expectations for Exploratory Writing in Science Journals
    Student Performance Expectations for Presentational Writing
    Student Performance Expectations for Narrative Procedures and Lab Reports
    Writing Narrative Procedures and Lab Reports: A Guide for Students
    Exploratory Writing and Science Journal Entries: A Guide for Students
    Structured Note-Taking
    Using the Writing Checklist: A Guide for Students
    Using the Writing Checklist: A Guide for Teachers
    Group Interactive Reports: A Guide for Teachers
    Group Interactive Reports: A Guide for Students
    Real Science: Issues, Evidence, and You

  5. Speaking and Listening
  6. Student Performance Expectations for Exploratory Speaking and Listening
    Student Performance Expectations for Presentational Speaking
    Student Performance Expectations for Listening to Presentational Speech
    Student Performance Expectations for Group Interaction
    Group Interaction: A Guide for Students
    Running Records Worksheet
    Student Performance Expectations for Using Persuasive Strategies
    Rules for Shared-Inquiry Discussions*
    How to Lead a Shared-Inquiry Discussion*

    *The Shared Inquiry strategy, primarily developed by The Great Books Foundation which pioneered the "Shared Inquiry" teaching methodology (The Great Books Foundation 1965), was adapted for the CHEM 2 program (SEPUP 1997). Simply stated, it blends metacognitive strategies with Socratic discussion methods.

  7. Critical Analysis of Media
  8. Student Performance Expectations for Analyzing Media Messages
    Media Analysis Checklist