Reading and Writing in Science: Multiple Text Types in Scientific Literacy Learning
Elizabeth Birr Moje LeeAnn M. Sutherland Tanya Cleveland Mary Heitzman
University of Michigan www.umich.edu/~moje
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the National Reading Conference Miami, Florida December 2005
• This report is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation, under Grant No.REC 0106959 Amd 001. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
• To analyze how middleschool science teachers in Detroit engaged in literacy strategy instruction within project-based science units that employed multiple text materials
Overall Project Question
• Can we develop textual materials and scientific literacy teaching strategies that can support students in increasingly complex science learning, without adding to teachers’ and students’ already overwhelming set of classroom tasks?
Curriculum Design: Scaffolded Multiple Text Genres
• Scaffolded integration of multiple text genres and forms of representation around single concepts
– Constructed expository text – Constructed narrative text (i.e., case studies) – Real-world texts – Visual images – Hands-on (firsthand, see Palincsar & Magnusson, 2001) experiences
Professional Development Design: Literacy Strategies
– Vocabulary Concept Cards – Semantic Feature Analysis – List-Group-Label
• Pre-Reading Strategies
– Preview Guides – Text Impressions (a modification of McGinley & Denner’s Story Impressions) – Perspective Taking
Literacy Strategies Instruction
• Why do we need strategies if texts are considerate?
– Even considerate texts can challenge proficient readers if concepts are new or difficult – Struggling readers in all classrooms – Real-world texts are rarely written to be considerate of young readers
Specific Research Questions
• How do teachers use readers (particularly the multiple text types) and other print texts in their classrooms? • How did teachers employ the literacy strategies taught in professional development? • What effect did strategy use have on students’ content and literacy learning in their science class?
Research Design and Methods
– 275 7th-grade students taught by 11 teachers in 10 middle schools taught across Detroit
• Data Sources
– Classroom field notes – Videotape of classroom practices and PD sessions – Informal teacher interviews – Teachers’ written reflections on their use of strategies
• Data Analysis Methods
– Constant comparison – Key linkage charts
• Teachers used the text materials infrequently during class
• Teachers employed the literacy strategies with enthusiasm, but their application seemed situated in explicit instruction discrete from the science projects
– Teachers referred to ―doing literacy today‖ or to ―vocabulary strategies‖
– Treatment condition teachers used the text when instructed
Major Assertion One
• Although literacy skill is valued and literacy teaching strategies are sought by teachers, literacy instruction is seen by the science teachers as a stand-alone activity, rather than as an integral part of science content learning • Strategy’s purposes and links to content learning unclear
– Teachers rehearsed the strategies with students to perfect student responses
• Goals of science instruction and goals of literacy instruction collide
– Discovery versus explicit instruction? – Concept learning versus remediation?
– Planning time – Instructional time
Major Assertion Two
• One of the most popular forms of literacy instruction is vocabulary instruction
– Teachers focus heavily on words and word meanings
• Word meanings appear easy to assess • Strategies provide explicit instruction • Strategy instruction fits within time constraints • Cost-benefit ratio is high, particularly if remediation is the issue
Questions for Future Analyses (or, We Have More Questions than Answers)
• How do teachers’ beliefs about the nature of science (and the use of language in science) shape their uses of literacy strategies (particularly emphasis on vocabulary)? • What role does teaching experience play in the ways in which the strategies were implemented? • What role does student reading proficiency play in how teachers view and enact strategies? • Do the goals of PBS and literacy instruction conflict?
Implications for Professional Development
• PD needs to examine the relationship between literacy and science inquiry (see
• PD needs to be sustained over time
• PD needs to take seriously the tensions engendered in the struggle between the need to remediate literacy skill and produce science content learning • How are we—as professional developers— implicated in the emphasis on literacy strategies as activities, separate from content learning?
– lotsa time!
Cervetti, Pearson, Barber, & Bravo, in press)
– In the quest to emphasize the important role of literacy instruction, did we set it apart from science instruction? – As we worked from teachers’ needs and interests, did we lean too heavily toward vocabulary instruction?