Reviewed by Douglas Llewellyn
With the arrival of the Common Core State Standards Initiative and A Framework for K–12 Science Education, secondary school science teachers are faced with a challenging question: How do I integrate language arts and argument–based instruction (as advocated by the Common Core and Framework) into my science curriculum to help make students “critical consumers” of scientific information? Fortunately, there is a resource that comes to the rescue,
This book offers an innovative framework to meet the new national standards while involving disengaged students in comprehending science texts and developing their proficiency in science. The authors offer a Science Literacy Framework that starts with an engaging experience (an inquiry, a lab, or collecting and analyzing data) then follows that up with (1) a purposeful reading assignment from the textbook to find out what others know about the question being investigated, (2) a productive dialogue where students make a claim and defend their assertions with evidence, and finally (3) a meaningful writing activity where students write an explanation to summarize their findings.
For those that say, “Wait a minute, I’m not an English teacher," Success in Science is an understandable and well–written support that provides both (a) the research that states why students benefit from structures that assist them to talk out their understandings and opinions and then summarize them in written form as evidence of their thinking, and (b) sample activities and planning pages for fitting individual lessons to the suggested framework.
The book is organized into nine chapters. Chapter 1 provides a brief vignette of a teacher using the Science Literacy Framework (SLF). Chapters 2 and 3 present and explain the SLF. Chapter 4 offers examples of lessons in biology, earth science, and physical science that elaborate on the framework, while Chapter 5 deals with the all–important issue of motivating students to read and write based on topics that capture their interest and imagination. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 provide techniques to effectively deal with making thinking more explicit through dialogue and writing, such as, Talking Sticks, Think–Pair–Share, Paired Verbal Fluency, Four Corners, Paraphrase Passport, and Dialogue Dots. Lastly, Chapter 9 lays out the “big picture” in restructuring science curriculum to the proposed framework.
In his popular 1964 song, Bob Dylan sang, “Then you better start swimmin' or you'll sink like a stone—for the times they are a–changin'.” For science teachers the times are a–changin’. Gone are the days of straight lecture and recitation about science facts and figures. Tomorrow’s science teachers need to be skilled in providing strategies that build comprehension in reading and writing, while helping students make and defend arguments as well as their understanding of core ideas. Success in Science through Dialogue, Reading and Writing delivers on the means and methods to bring about the changes prescribed by the Common Core initiative and A Framework for K–12 Science Education.
Review posted on 1/16/2013