Using Literacy in the Science Classroom

About Me

Hello! My name is Jackie and I currently teach in the Cohoes City School District. I teach Life Science in Grade 7, Living Environment in Grade 8, and Natural Disasters and Green Energy at the High School level. I did my undergrad at SUNY Oneonta and graduated in December 2014. I am currently certified in Biology and General Science Grades 7-12. I am from Newburgh, NY; about an hour North of NYC. My parents still live there but I keep moving around. In addition to teaching, I am also a Summer Camp Director back in my hometown. My staff includes about 22 other counselors and about 200 kids. Our home base is at a beautiful park across the street from my parents' house. We go on several trips each week. I consider myself lucky because of how much I enjoy the work I do. Sometimes I feel as though I never have a minute to spare, but it is all worth it in the end. When I finally get a minute to spare I try to get outdoors. I've always been one to enjoy camping and more recently I have been getting into hiking and kayaking. I guess you can say I am more of a Spring/Summer/Fall kind of girl.

My Topic/Purpose

Incorporating Literacy in the Science Classroom

Needs Assessment

Problem: There has been a recent focus on literacy in classrooms across all disciplines, not just ELA. The problem is, not many science teachers are trained to adequately include literacy as a part of their science curriculum. This course will walk science teachers through various literacy strategies to use in their classrooms. According to Tang (2016), "in recent years, curriculum reforms and standards around the world are putting more emphasis on disciplinary literacy in all subject areas" (p. 220). In most cases, science teachers have adequate knowledge on their discipline; they know the facts and concepts; but they do not possess the knowledge to successfully teach the content while promoting scientific literacy skills. The importance of literacy in science has been recognized because current knowledge that "disciplines have different specialized ways of communication which students need to master in order to be successful in the discipline and these disciplinary demands become more crucial at the secondary school level" (Tang, 2016, p. 220).

What is to be Learned: Learners in this course will gain knowledge on how to incorporate various literacy strategies in secondary science classrooms.

The Learners: Individuals taking part in this course should have a background in secondary science education. While this course will focus on Life Science and Biology, the strategies may be used across all science disciplines. The learners may be current or pre-service secondary science teachers that possess a great amount of knowledge in their science discipline.

Instructional Context: All learning will take place through the KNILT web-space. Learners will be required to have access to any device with internet access.

Goals: By the end of the course, learners should possess the knowledge to effectively use different literacy strategies in their secondary science classrooms to promote deeper understanding among their students. Learners should gain more comfort with exploring and using other literacy strategies not used in this course.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, learners will be able to:

  • Explain how to implement various literacy strategies in the science classroom.
  • Explore various literacy strategies to implement in the science classroom.
  • Apply their knowledge of literacy strategies.
  • Develop lessons that use scientific literacy.
  • Demonstrate the benefits of literacy in all disciplines.
  • Evaluate their understanding of implementing literacy strategies in the science classroom.
  • Design a science unit using various literacy strategies

Analysis of the Learner and Context

This class is designed for inservice and preservice secondary science teachers. Teachers should possess enough knowledge in their content areas to be able to apply their knowledge to lessons focused on promoting literacy in the secondary science classroom.

Performance Objectives

  • Explore various literacy strategies to implement in the science classroom.
  • Explain how to implement various literacy strategies in the science classroom.
  • Analyze several literacy strategies and know the benefits of each.
  • Compare and contrast learning strategies to decide when each one is appropriate to use.
  • Self-evaluate by using a literacy strategy from the viewpoint of a student in a classroom.
  • Develop a lesson that uses one literacy strategy.
  • Design a science unit that incorporates various literacy strategies while following a rubric and using the knowledge they've obtained from the course.

Task Analysis

Purpose:Research and analyze literacy strategies to be used in conjunction with a secondary science curriculum.

Terminal Goal:

The learner will demonstrate the use of literacy strategies in a science curriculum. The learner will use literacy strategies in a science curriculum.

Performance Objectives

  • Unit 1: Research of Literacy

- Learners will determine the meaning of disciplinary literacy.

- The learner will determine the benefits to using specific learning strategies in a science curriculum.

  • Unit 2: Research of Literacy Strategies

- Learners will research literacy strategies.

-Learners will be able to express their knowledge of a literacy strategy clearly.

  • Unit 3: Practice from Viewpoint of Student

-Learners will apply their knowledge of literacy strategies to different scenarios.

-Learners will gain an understanding of how specific literacy strategies are used as a student.

  • Unit 4: Lesson Development

- Learners will understand the use of literacy in science classrooms as they build their own lesson

- Learners will reflect on their lessons for improvement.

  • Unit 5: "Mini" Unit Plan

-Learners will become familiar with the NGSS.

-Learners will apply their knowledge of literacy to the new NGSS.

-Learners will make connections between literacy and NGSS to develop a "mini" unit.

Curriculum Map- Literacy in Science.jpeg

Curriculum Map

Curriculum Map- Literacy in Science.jpeg


Kok-Sing, T. (2016). How is disciplinary literacy addressed in the Science classroom?: A Singaporean case study. Australian Journal Of Language & Literacy, 39(3), 220-232