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Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8
tigations whose purpose is to explore one or more possible claims about the question. Dealing with authentic scientific debates required that the educators and researchers involved in this intervention take great efforts to make the scientific problems accessible to students without sacrificing core scientific concepts required to understand ecosystem relations, and the role of hormones in development. To focus and support student learning teachers and instructional materials narrowed the focus and provided students with a handful of factors to investigate and a method or structured choice of methods to choose from in order to explore the problem.
Interacting with Texts in the K-8 Classroom
Reading and texts are important parts of scientific practice and play an important role in science classrooms. Much of the research on students’ interaction with text has been conducted by reading researchers and is often not well situated in the context of science curricula and pedagogy. A few studies do, however, consider the role of text in conjunction with scientific inquiry and the consequences for students learning.
Concept-oriented reading instruction (CORI) is a program of research in which elementary students and teachers pursued the study of conceptual issues in science of the students’ choosing. In CORI, students were introduced to a complex knowledge domain, such as ecology or the solar system, for several weeks. They were then allowed to select a topic in that domain (such as a particular bird or animal) to study in depth and chose which books to read related to the topic. In the course of their inquiry about the topic, students received support in finding relevant resources, learned how to use those resources, and how to communicate what they learned to others. In conjunction with this text-based research, students participated in related inquiry, such as a habitat walk, specimen collection, feeder observations, feather experiments, and owl-pellet dissection. Students in CORI showed better reading comprehension of science-related texts and were more motivated to read about science than were students in traditional instruction (Guthrie et al., 2004).
In another line of research, Palinscar and Magnusson have explored students’ and teachers’ use of text in the context of guided inquiry science instruction (Palincsar and Magnusson, 2005). They describe the interplay of first- and second-hand investigations and the support they provide for the development of scientific knowledge and reasoning. In the latter stages of their research, the researchers developed an innovative text-genre (a scientist’s notebook) to scaffold students’ and teachers’ use of text in an inquiry fashion. The innovative text is a hybrid of exposition, narration, description, and argumentation in which the imagined scientist’s voice personalizes the text for the reader. Use of the text supported students’ learning about the topics