PDI-3: Deepening Science Thinking and Reasoning Through Discussion and Writing in K–8 Inquiry-based Science
Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Location: Philadelphia Marriott Hotel, Room 411/412
Science Area: Integrated/General
Intended Audience: Elementary; Middle Level
Recommended Pathway Sessions
Center for Science Education, Education Development Center
Jeff Winokur, Education Development Center, Inc.
Karen Worth, Education Development Center, Inc.
Martha Heller-Winokur, Tufts University
Sally Crissman, TERC
- How do writing and discussion work together to foster scientific reasoning and help to build conceptual understanding in inquiry based science classrooms?
- What is the role of group discussions in fostering scientific reasoning and understanding?
- What is the nature of science notebooks and how can they be used to enhance scientific reasoning and understanding?
- What skills do students need to learn and teachers need to teach for productive discussions and writing in the science classroom?
Much is being made of the connection between science and literacy in many educational arenas. Publishers are producing science readers by the dozen. Science journals and science notebooks are more and more common. Teachers and other educational leaders are emphasizing these connections in the hope of keeping science off the back burner. Others see science as a way to motivate students to build their literacy skills and improve test scores. This institute grows out of the growing literature on the kinds of competencies students must build in order to be proficient in science. There is little doubt that direct experience with science phenomena is critical to student science learning, but does not in itself lead to the development of conclusions and new theories. For this to take place students need to reflect on their experience, examine and analyze their data, debate and discuss their ideas, write down their conclusions, and communicate them to others. In other words they need to use language—literacy. This institute will focus on how language can push students' science reasoning, and strategies teachers use to support this use of language.
The institute will address how K–8 students’ science thinking is enhanced through writing and discussion as the students move from direct experience—the perceptual—to conceptual understanding. To set the stage and establish a model of classroom based guided inquiry, participants will first engage in a brief science investigation. This will be followed by an in-depth exploration of the roles of oral and written language in deepening scientific reasoning. Using classroom video, transcripts of student discussions, student writing, and mini-case studies, we will identify a range of instructional strategies to deepen reasoning that: structure and guide serious accountable talk among students; foster careful use of notebooks for recording and concluding; and provide opportunities for students to apply their understanding through different genres of writing. We will also focus on the relationship between talking and writing and the important back and forth that takes place as students clarify and deepen their understanding of science ideas. Participants also will have the opportunity to explore the relationship between literacy and science teaching and learning and the important connections that can and should be made in the classroom.
This institute is intended for science educators interested in exploring how discussion and writing permeate effective inquiry based instruction in grades K–8. In large and small highly interactive groups, participants will have the opportunity to learn from the resources provided by the institute leaders as well as from one another.
The presenters of the workshop reflect a critical partnership between literacy and science educators. Three of the presenters of this institute are science educators with many years of experience in developing inquiry based curricula, working with both preservice and in-service teachers on inquiry based science teaching and learning. One of the presenters is an expert in comprehensive literacy and has many years experience providing professional development to teachers. In 2003, the Center for Science Education at EDC received an NSF grant to develop professional development materials to enhance the use of language in the inquiry based classroom with a particular focus on science discussions; student writing in notebooks and in other contexts; and the explicit connection between the teaching and learning of literacy and that of science. The institute is based on this work.