Unit 3: How can science literacy be fostered across the curriculum?

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Learning Objectives

At the end of the unit, the learner will have ideas on fostering science literacy across the curriculum. The emphasis of using techniques and strategies to guide all learners through scientific understanding.

Mini-Lecture

A misconception among many science students is that it is somehow a subject for the elite or the extremely intelligent. More than once in my short career as a science teacher have I heard students imply that they are somehow not gifted with the ability to understand science, however, they are capable of understanding other conceptual contents. This leads to the reality of how science is actually being taught to grade levels. Most science teachers have gone through some extremely tough courses. Science teachers often take for granted the fact that some of the basic ideas may actually be hard for the young learner to wrap their heads around. How then, can we create an environment for all learners? Read the following strategies: 7 Defensible Strategies That Work (Press back button to get back to UNIT 3) These strategies can be used in any content area, including science, in order to make the language and understanding science more accessible to the learner. Some of these strategies can be integrated into a project-based assignment (i.e. writing a poem about DNA, creating a children's book about mitosis, researching a new idea in science, etc.).

The best practice for fostering any science learning is through inquiry-based learning. Choose 3-4 of these workshops to view. Learning Science Through Inquiry In particular, Workshop 1. What Is Inquiry and Why Do It?, Workshop 2. Setting the Stage: Creating a Learning Community, and Workshop 8: Connecting Other Subjects to Inquiry. These 3 videos emphasize strategies for implementing inquiry-based curriculum in science and strategies bringing math and language skills into scientific inquiry.

Learning Activities

In this learning activity, the learner will come up with strategies for developing scientific ideas across different content areas.

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Activity:


1. List math skills that are often used in your science curriculum. (metrics, multiplication, calculus)

2. List language acquisition skills that are used in your science curriculum. (reading, writing, word-acquisition)

3. List any other content area skills that may be used in your science curriculum. (understanding history in the context of evolution, the atomic bomb, newton's laws, galileo?)


4. Now, what strategies can you use that other content area teachers use to teach these ideas? Are there strategies to collaborate across different content areas?


View the following lesson plan adapted from PBS: Desiree's Baby Lesson Plan (Schneider, 2003)

This lesson plan requires the learner to use strategies developed in Math (ratios), English (reading and interpreting short stories), and history (understanding the historical context of race relations in the United States).

Now you see if you can find a way to develop lesson plans that integrate more than one content area.

Conclusion

Students often struggle with science because they have a hard time recognizing how science relates to life. Science is viewed by many as being extremely rigid, however, it has so much to do with creative thinking. Students are used to science having right and wrong answers, however, there are certain inquiry-based ideas in science that can be extremely subjective. Science education can be multidisciplinary with an emphasis on discovery, rather than rote memorization. The short time students spend in school learning science can be spent making it more accessible.


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Fostering Scientific Literacy