- Students need to understand the meanings of science vocabulary words in order to understand and articulate the concepts of the science lesson. Reporting the outcomes of experiments and writing science reports gave students authentic opportunities to practice and clarify the meanings of the science words and concepts
- Students developed an understanding that familiar words can mean something completely different when used in a scientific context.
- Helping students fill out a graphic organizer during the science investigation provided students a clear link to organize and represent related concepts and meanings into distinct paragraphs when they began writing.
- Students did not achieve mastery of using the outcomes of the science investigation as evidence for conclusions and generalizations in the science report.
Vocabulary Development: This research has lead me to see how important it is for students to be receiving explicit vocabulary instruction across the subject matter areas. Students need opportunities to use content specific words in authentic discourse, to read the words in context, to write the words in their own writing, and to make cross curricular connections with vocabulary I must create rich contexts and experiences for students conceptualize the vocabulary words essential to understanding different disciplines.
Curriculum Integration: Integration of the writing process across the curriculum is something I want to do more regularly. Writing provides a mechanism for shared reflection of processes and thinking. It also facilitates a teaching style that must take into account that students are going to be asked to write about what they know. With this in mind I was able to more carefully craft lessons that could lead to students being able to articulate conceptual understanding. The science lesson came to be about much more that just completing one investigation. Thinking about facilitating articulation of understanding I saw in myself more intentional planning of lessons, use of charts and graphs, purposeful language, and intentional questioning in my teaching.
Importance of Evidence: Analyzing the data for “telling of knowledge” exposed the importance of students producing evidence for their thinking. Mathematically we discuss producing the thinking that lead to the answer in a math problem. When making predictions, drawing conclusions, and giving opinions on a story, we ask students to base it on evidence located in the text. In science activities we ask students to conduct a test that should provide evidence for a certain conclusion. Facilitating students understanding of the different sources of evidence and how to verbalize where they located their evidence is another activity that can be enforced across subject matter. The more opportunities students have to engage with a certain type of thinking the more they are likely to internalize those ways of thinking and learning. Locating and reporting sources of evidence is another one of those linking concepts that can tie multiple subjects together.