Week 10 Reading Response

Through reading these articles, I really appreciate that a “scientifically literate” student is defined and given acknowledgement to in many of the articles. I really do believe there is something to be said about being a scientifically literate student, rather than just a literate student. To be scientifically literate takes a special skill set that has to be taught.

 

Angela Kohnen’s article acknowledges the work teachers must do in the classroom to produce scientifically literate students:

 

“Classroom assignments also rarely require students to interview adults, but learning to ask questions and listen carefully to answers is an essential part of being a science journalist (and of being an educated adult, particularly in the doctor’s office). Many SciJourn teachers required that their students interview an adult; students learned to compose appropriate questions and to locate experts, which sometimes was as simple as walking down the school’s hallways (interview sources included coaches, other teachers, the student’s doctor, family friends, as well as experts found online).” (Kohnen, p. 30).

 

This teacher had to train students to ask appropriate questions and learn techniques to seek out adults in order to improve their scientific literacy skills. I really do not think students (especially middle school students) understand that there is a difference between literacy in every content area, but especially STEM. STEM literacy is based around data and inferences and making conclusions. STEM literacy is not as black and white as ELA or History, which is based around telling a story. I truly believe there are more “layers” to science literacy than other content areas. For this reason, the meaning of “evidence” does shift in science as evidence becomes data based and relies on making connections and conclusions, whereas ELA literacy is based around quotes and language found in a text, rather than a chart, graph, or image of a cell dividing.

 

A strategy I have been wanting to try in more classroom is outlined in Morgan, Benko, and Hauptman’s article. Student choice is an extremely powerful tool in the classroom and can specifically utilized when developing literacy skills as highlighted in this article, which discussed an article list unit study done by 7th graders (very exciting to me as this is the age I teach!), who created astounding and advanced final drafts, largely due to their engagement in the assignment. This article gives light to all of the literacy skills touched upon through this assignment. A skill that stood out to me was that students had to make their own writing choices, which even furthered the idea of student choice and truly made the students’ writings their own. I believe this type of assignment can be transcended across contents, and I can specifically see it being done in my classroom. This assignment allows students to write a research paper without realizing they’re writing a research paper. For my next unit of heredity, I can see myself modifying this assignment so that they make a list of “the top 10 inherited traits” or “the top 5 most detrimental inherited traits” or some other modification that really interests students. I’m sure all students will find something different that can be brought to the class to inform other students, as well as myself.

 

Hotchkiss and Hougen’s article discusses “writing like a historian”, which is interesting because I believe many of the strategies they explained can be extended to “writing like a scientist”. One strategy discussed is known as the “stop and dare” strategy, which is used for writing persuasive and argumentative essays. I specifically could have used this strategy in my classroom when I was preparing my students for our fossil fuel debate. Many of my students were forced to take a side they did not believe in, but still had to defend as it was the opinion of their assigned character (either environmentalist or CEO). The steps of this strategy might have allowed my students to have an easier time in trying to develop an argument that would convince the viewing audience of their stance, especially if their opinion did not match the opinion of their assigned character. The fact that the stop and dare strategy are based around acronyms that tell the students how to create their argumentative pieces, the teacher will be able to easily teach this strategy and students will be able to easily understand it. In this scenario, the meaning of “evidence” may be more consistent across content areas as it is all based around research and data, in terms of a debate topic no matter the specific content of this debate. Thinking of an ELA debate topic, perhaps the legality of abortion, the “evidence” would be similar in that statistics and research facts will be incorporated into each side’s stance.

 

 

Group A

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Sub-Group of ED 656 - Fall 2018

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