Using Literacy in the Science Classroom

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ETAP 623 Spring 2018 Section 6476

Jaclyn Penney

Overview and Purpose

The purpose of this course is to help you integrate meaningful literacy strategies into your science curriculum. Research suggests that the lack of familiarity of science literacy has led to a lack of understanding of the content presented to students (Tang, 2016, p. 220). By offering this course, I hope to provide you with more options of successfully integrating literacy into your science classrooms to increase understanding of students. you will also be given the opportunity to explore the relationship between the NGSS and literacy in science.

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). Most recently, the Next Generation Science Standards were set into place and are in the beginning stages of being rolled out in New York State. Disciplinary literacy plays its own role in the success of the NGSS. "The Framework" (in which NGSS is based off of) "identified three dimensions of scientific literacy: disciplinary core ideas (content), crosscutting concepts (unifying themes or big ideas), and scientific and engineering practices (processes). It is the intersection of these dimensions that encompasses scientific literacy" (Houseal, A., Gillis, V., & Hutchison, L., 2016, p. 377). By teaching disciplinary literacy skills, teachers will be able to implement the NGSS successfully because true understanding relies on literacy skills.


What is to be Learned: In this course you 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. If you are taking this course you may be a current or pre-service secondary science teacher that possesses a great amount of knowledge in your science discipline.

Instructional Context: All learning will take place through the KNILT web-space and GoogleApps. You will be required to have access to any device with internet access as well as a Google account. If you do not already have a Google you can make one by visiting the Google website.

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

Performance Objectives

  • You will understand what literacy is.
  • You will be able to recall literacy strategies.
  • You will be able to apply literacy strategies to scenarios.
  • You will be able to identify the specific benefits of individual literacy strategies in science.
  • You will be able to effectively implement literacy strategies in science lessons.
  • You will be able to apply/connect literacy with the Next Generation Science Standards.

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click the title of a unit to go to its page. You will keep an interactive "Design Journal" throughout the course. You can access the journal through the shared Google Folder. The purpose of the journal is to keep all information learned in an easily accessible place. The journal will be used for reflection of progress throughout the course as well as a guide to help the final design process of the science literacy lessons to be completed at the end of the course. In the folder you may find other helpful resources that are not assigned, but could be of some use to. I also encourage you to add any helpful resources that you come across that may be useful to the course.

Link to Google Folder Shared Google Folder

Unit 1: Literacy Overview

During this unit you will gain an understanding of what literacy is and how literacy may differ in science.

Unit 2: Investigating Literacy Strategies

The purpose of this unit will be for you to become familiar with the different literacy strategies to be used in science classrooms.

Unit 3: Literacy Strategies Application

This unit will give you the opportunity to apply your newly gained knowledge of literacy strategies.

Unit 4: Literacy Lesson Development

During this unit you will develop a rough draft of a lesson using one of the strategies from the previous unit. You will also have the opportunity to analyze another classmates' lesson.

Unit 5: Develop a Literacy Unit

As your final assessment, you will develop a 3-5 lesson "Mini" Unit Plan that not only promotes disciplinary literacy, but also meets the needs of the new NGSS. You will also write a Unit Plan Rationale.

Science literacy.png

Extended Resources

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

Houseal, A., Gillis, V., & Hutchison, L.(2016). Disciplinary literacy through the lens of the Next Generation Science Standards. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy. 59(4) 377-384