Friday, 19 October 2018

Learn - Research - Literature Review

Integrating Literacy Strategies into Science Instruction by the American Museum of Natural History.

This source was a website rather than an article, and it included links to six different literacy-boosting
activities which I’ve also linked straight through to here.

Paraphrasing - The teacher should select a text that is not overly complex for students. The goal of
that first lesson is for students to experience what it feels like to paraphrase successfully; first orally to
a partner without annotating in the margins.

Summarising - determining importance while reading a text. Summarising large sections of text or a
full text is a strategy that helps readers make meaning of complex material. If a reader can’t summarise
then that’s an indication they need to stop and use a comprehension-repair strategy before moving on.
Students could first try and summarise to a partner. Eventually they can move on to written summaries.

Interactive Reading - Interactive read-aloud that a student can do with a peer, with little invasion by
a teacher. They are given a text and a set of instructions which include when to stop, what to do; e.g.
sketch based on some information, underline the most important sentence in a paragraph, paraphrase
a section for a partner, write a summary each and compare.

Vocabulary Instruction - Our science-teacher-instinct may be to front load unfamiliar terms and get
students to research definitions for new vocabulary. Research suggests that the best approach is to
thoughtfully plan the learning sequence so it involves students observing or investigating phenomena
PRIOR to presenting definitions, or having students construct their own definitions (with teacher support)
from their own observations and new experiences.

Writing a Scientific Explanation - An explanation tool is provided on their website that looks quite useful!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Learn - Research - Literature Review

Atkinson Jr., R. J. (2012). A Compilation of Literacy Strategies Used In Science and Earth Science Units. Education and Human Development Master’s Theses, 146.

Literacy-based science instruction and incorporating literacy into science curriculum does not mean just reading textbooks everyday in class. It can take the form of many strategies, some which I will summarise below!

The instruction that is done “should include emphasizing interactivity and collaboration in the activities, relate concepts to ordinary life through a variety of textual forms, and provide opportunities for practicing higher-order thinking/reading schools (Guzzetti & Bang, 2011, p56).

Science journalism - (as a side note, Science in the News was not found to improve literacy during an extremely small-scale and pretty uncontrolled study for someone’s Masters in America..)
Students report on science in the news. They investigate, gather information, contextualise the information and bring critical eyes to what they read and write. It forces students to use multiple resources, and evaluate if the sources they gather information from are credible and reliable before they report back any information to their peers.

Literacy circles
Use cooperative learning groups that have differentiated roles extracting information from text. Students can become the inquiry organiser, word explorer, visionary, thinking connecter, webmaster, and big idea developer. The strategy forces students to communicate effectively and teach one another about their particular role and the information they bring to the concept. This can also be used with multi-level texts. This sounds very similar to the reading roles Aaron Wilson has advised Tamaki College to use during our Wide and Deep literacy units.

Include an introduction, task, list of resources for learners, the process, criteria or rubric, and a conclusion. It is a way for teachers to scaffold research where students can extract information from credible sources to gain valuable knowledge on specific content. I also learnt at a professional development session about Improving Boys Literacy that boys in particular appreciate having numerous small goals (on the rubric) with a timeline and to be held to those; celebrated when they’re achieved and given consequences when they’re missed.

Argumentation with text
Allows students to express their ideas aloud and make their ideas concrete through their own expression. State the main idea, explain your POV, explain what it is important to believe the way you do, present information that supports your idea, focus only on your argument and the most important points, determine arguments against you POV and offer evidence against them, support your argument with evidence from research, summarise and restate your strongest argument. You could also have a debate in class which incorporates genuine two-way discussion and allows space for students to speak what they know, and also, anecdotally, students seem to love it (year 13 bio debating the costs v benefits of migration was such a hit they requested to do it again).


Reflect on real-world problems and learn to express ideas and concepts and to communicate through writing, as well as having access to an authentic audience.

Friday, 12 October 2018

Learn - Research - Literature Review

Today I’m posting about what I’ve learnt from reading the National Science Teachers Association (2005)
article Improving Science Reading Comprehension. NSTA WebNews Digest: Science Scope, Features.

This piece of writing mentions activating prior knowledge before beginning a reading; making predictions,
separating keywords (given by the teacher) into categories, and completing anticipation guides (as some
of the previous two posts also mention - so I won’t go into that again!)

Today I would like to share what I took away from this reading:

Keeping a response log
A response log can be closed - where the teacher decides what students respond to - or it can be open
and students can choose what they respond to. I nicked a screenshot from their website because it was
such a clear example:

Say something
This strategy also encourages students to think while reading. Students work in small groups and read
a passage from a text chosen by the teacher. Prior to student reading, predetermined stopping points
are marked into the text. For example, a chapter from a text may be divided into 10 sections.

All students begin reading along and read until stopping point one. Students then take turns “saying
something” about what was read. All students in the group are expected to respond to the text. The
groups are student-run, but the teacher serves as a rotating facilitator to assist and observe groups as

I used the Say Something strategy in the Microorganisms unit designed with my friend Graham Stoddard and the help of our school literacy specialist Marc Milford - you can view it / use it here if you would like: It has a heavy emphasis on literacy.

Special support for struggling students
Put reading assignments on audiotape and allow students to listen to them once they have attempted
the reading on their own. This repeated exposure can enhance comprehension and alleviate student

Teachers can also link students up with a reading buddy. The reading buddy can serve as the first
contact for answering questions about the text. This can eliminate a line of students waiting to ask the
teacher questions.

Teachers can also provide graphic organizers that assist students in focusing on the main ideas. These
can be outlines for students to follow during reading, a list of questions to check for comprehension
before a student moves on to the next section, or a dictionary keyed to the text to help identify essential

Friday, 5 October 2018

Learn - Research - Literature Review

Yup, I’m still writing about Seddon, M. (2017). Strategies for integrating literacy into a science
classroom. Graduate Research Papers, 115.

So far I’ve covered Seddon’s explanation of annotation, anticipation reading guides and reflection.
Today it’s on to the last two:

Graphic Organizers
Graphic organizers are visual and spatial representations of information and relationships found
within text. They are typically one page combination of words and diagrams. Teachers should begin
by modelling the use of specific graphic organizers; flow charts, Venn diagrams, t-charts or concept
maps. This is most effective when students are allowed to construct their own graphic representation
- but first they have to know how to!

Summarization and Synthesis
This skill is necessary for annotating, reflecting or constructing graphic organisers.. Teachers must
explicitly instruct students on how to put multiple sources together in a way that establishes
connections between sources and allows students to develop their own ideas and arguments (Silva,
2013). Teachers could use a jigsaw puzzle as an analogy for how synthesis works; no piece being
enough to see the whole picture. I also quite like the analogy of weaving..

The next step in a synthesis lesson would be to participate in a shared reading and discussion of
student/teacher responses based on that text; take part in a read aloud of a different text and
practice reflecting upon a new text. Finally, students should be provided with feedback concerning
an independent quick write or think-aloud. After students practice with the teacher, they should be
given multiple opportunities to practice throughout the term.

There's also a really great example of a unit plan employing these strategies here - Are We Ready
for a Pandemic?

Friday, 28 September 2018

Learn - Research - Literature Review

Seddon, M. (2017). Strategies for integrating literacy into a science classroom. Graduate Research
Papers, 115.

Simply assigning reading (even if it’s from a variety of sources) in a science course is not adequate
for students to become effective readers that can utilize the text to delve deeper into the science
content. In order to be effective in the use of the strategies listed below, teachers must understand
the strategy’s purpose and how to instruct and model the use of the strategy to students.

Content literacy strategies:

  • Annotation
  • Anticipation reading guides
  • Reflections
  • Graphic organizers
  • Summarization and synthesis

I’m going to break down these strategies into different blog posts so it’s not an overload for my

Have students make markings in the text in places where they make connections or have questions.
Markings could include symbols, phrases, and reflections written in the margins or within the text.

This strategy provides students with a visible record of their thoughts that they can use to respond,
summarise and reflect upon their learning later. It slows the reading down and allows students to
discover or uncover ideas that would not emerge otherwise (O’Donnell, 2004). Students should
begin to see their reading as an active process of comprehension or a way of learning.

Students tend to categorize their annotations into making predictions, asking questions, making
connections, defining vocabulary, analyzing or evaluating the author’s craft, stating opinions, and
spotting patterns or trends. To ensure students take ownership in their learning from annotation,
students should be required to use their annotations again upon completion of the reading by
reflecting on them or through written or oral discussion.

To incorporate annotation in your classes, start with a short story or article that can be read in less
than a class period, e.g. from, Science Daily, New York Times Science, or IFLScience.
However, annotation will become a more powerful tool when it is incorporated in a full unit where
students utilize their annotations before, during and at the conclusion of a unit to demonstrate their
learning and understanding.

I’m going to cover the other strategies in later blog posts :)

Friday, 21 September 2018

Learn - Research - Literature Review

Croner, P. E. (2003). Strategies For Teaching Science Content Reading. The Science Education
Review, 2(4).

Science students need to be aggressive reading their textbooks. They need to be active readers
who build background knowledge before beginning to read, know the purpose for reading, looks
for clues as to what the text will be about, makes predictions and breaks the text into manageable

Good readers use comprehension strategies such as forming a mental image, rereading, adjusting
the rate of reading, searching the text to identify unknown words, and predicting meaning that lies
ahead (Collins, 1994).

Word sort
First, students copy vocabulary terms onto note cards, one word per card. (The terms should
include both new and known words.) Then, either individually or in groups, students sort the words
into categories. The sorting may be closed (the teacher provides the categories) or open (students
choose their own categories and identify their own labels for each category). Once sorting has
finished, students should discuss the reasoning behind the choices they made.

This can also be done with SOLO hexagons, and students can explain the relationship between
words or ideas as they explain why they positioned them the way they have, in relation to one

Click or clunk strategy

This is a strategy for students as they read - students ask themselves as they read if sentences “click” for them or if it goes “clunk.” If it clunks, they should ask what they can do to make sense of
it. The purpose of this activity is to have the students slow their impulsivity and take some time to
check for understanding. This is a simple way of getting readers to stop their reading and rethink,
rather than continuing to read without comprehension.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Learn - Research - Literature Review

Literature Review on Literacy in Science

I searched in Google for “literacy strategies for science” and opened all links from the first search page.
These were the results:

As I move through these readings I will not describe the same strategy twice, so I will just omit
mentioning it in the reading that came second..

I feel that is QUITE enough background reading for a full-time teacher with other things on her plate!!