Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Reading, Science and Critical Thinking

Science involves reading, comprehension, doing (experimenting), thinking, and, writing.
Some people compartmentalize their teaching and learning in a way that they think language arts are not found nor used in science. That concept is not limited to students. Scientists do, however, read, write, and for that matter, use math and history. Good science involves many disciplines. Some classroom ideas related to science literacy are included here.

Let students "Retell" to Enhance Science Literacy:

After a student reads a science textbook or a journal article (or portions thereof) or does a laboratory exercise, have him or her retell orally what was read or done. Ask the student to close the reading material or laboratory notebook and then tell you about the reading or exercise in as much detail as she/he can remember. If the student has difficulty retelling parts of the textbook or journal article reading, discussing his or her laboratory exercise, or further, if the student has difficulty remembering certain details, use prompts such as "Tell me more about (the scientist)" or "What happened after (the measurements were taken)?" or, "Why did you (measure the pH)?" Analyze the retelling for information the student gives about:

  • Main idea and supporting detail
  • Sequence of events (either of information presented or of tasks done in an experiment and reported in a journal article (laboratory report) or in a science story
  • Characters...Setting...Plot (in a science story)
  • Hypothesis, Materials and Methods, Results, Discussion and Conclusions (in a journal article)
  • Time line and who did what (in a history of science type of textbook)
  • Problem and solution(s)
  • Response to and discussion of text- or journal article-specific vocabulary and language

Check these points:

  • Can the student tell you what happened in a science book or journal article in his or her own words?
  • Does the student include details about the ideas presented in the retelling? Can she or he explain the relationships among the ideas? Can the student explain how the ideas relate to other things he or she knows?
  • Can the student describe the research presented? How detailed is the description? What was done? How?
  • Can the student recall the events of the presented material, and can she or he place them in the correct sequence?
  • Can the student identify what the science article or text was presenting and how researchers discovered it? Was their a hypothesis? A resolution? Can the student suggest future research or what may be discussed next in the textbook or in other research articles?
  • Does the student use vocabulary from the text or journal article?
  • Does the student's retelling demonstrate minimal, adequate, or very complete and detailed understanding of the science information presented?
Relate to higher order thinking skills
  • Knowledge- Example: Can the student repeat the given facts? Can he or she define the words?
  • Comprehension - Example: Can the student paraphrase the information? Can the student explain the meanings of the vocabulary words in the reading?
  • Analysis - Example: Can the student verify the data given?
  • Application - Example: How can the student use the information? Does he or she see how the information can be applied to one's own life?
  • Synthesis - Example: Can the student create a way to remember the information? Can he or she design a way to use the information?
  • Evaluation - Example: Can the student tell if the way he or she is using the information is successful in terms of selected parameters?
College (and some much younger students) students can further self-assess
  • How do you analyze the journal articles that you read? ---This topic is a post for another day----

No comments: