This semester, September 2012
I am surprised by the literacy levels of my students. They are able to read and identify vocabulary and phrases that are important only if given guidance. Most struggle with reading comprehension. Although almost all students can identify the words, many have a hard time comprehending the text as a whole and its significance to what we are learning in class. It seems that students can demonstrate and gain understanding once given time to discuss their ideas with peers.
My literacy rich classroom will involve reading alternatives to the textbook that will be accessible to all reading levels of my students and include audio and video when possible to supplement reading. Students will have multiple ways of accessing text and content information, with reading guides to help teach students how to read science texts effectively.
Students will be engaged in minor critical thinking and investigative labs and activities where there is a lot of structure and directions to follow. Students need to learn to follow directions effectively in a lab and get used to lab practices before engaging in more critical thinking, investigative activities. What students do in class will be mastering a foundation of science skills in order to make the transition to more investigative, open ended thinking later in the semester.
Students are reading simple current event science articles from general public friendly sources such as National Geographic and Discover. They are also focusing on learning to read a science textbook and more scholarly science articles/journals. Students may also be given more accessible on line readings that can serve as an alternative to the textbook to better accommodate their reading level and interest.
In December, my classroom will be used to routines and begin to expand use these routines to expand learning. More class and small group discussions, open ended activities and writing, more detailed lab reports, and more current event/real world science inquiry.
Students will be engaged in group work to work on problem solving and critical thinking activities, inquiry and open ended experiments, and collaborative writing assignments.
The reading for my class by December will begin to expand to meet student needs. Some students may get more challenging readings with guidance, while other may receive less guidance for the more simple readings. Students will be working towards reading a short novel that discusses scientific content in an accessible format that also inspires critical thinking and debate.
Students are writing full lab reports with little help from graphic organizers, but still have the ability to peer review and revise their work.
Students are able to hold a small group discussion on open ended topics and work together to solve problems and set up experiments.
By May, my students will be very self sufficient in leading and participating in discussions. They will be able to effectively read science writing and be able to comprehend it and discuss in a small group or in class. Some students will still need guidance for reading, but their abilities will have improved significantly for science reading.
My students will be engaged in independent and group lab work that includes inquiry and working together to identify a problem, ask a question, determine how to test the question, and collect and analyze data. They will also be involved in class and small group discussions on topics they are learning.
By the end of the school year, my students will be able to conduct a lab on their own in a small group and independently write a lab report. Students will also be able to independently read a science current event article and analyze it to understand its scientific relevance and effectively share its contents with the class.