Scientific language in classroom activities for science

Introducing the rather excellent Language and Literacy in Science Education (2001), Jay L. Lemke (Professor of Education, City University of new York) explains that:

The organization of classroom activity for science has to take into account the nature of scientific concepts, scientific language, scientific reasoning and scientific values. it is not enough to ask students to read the textbook: you have more specifically to structure the reading task so that they will ask the kinds of silent questions a scientist would ask. It is not enough to assign a report to be written: you have to teach them what questions that report should answer, how the answers should be logically connected to each other and how each answer and each connection should be put into the right kind of words, sentences and paragraphs.” (pp.iv-v)

The book, as he explains, “show[s] teachers what can be done to make learning science through language both more effective and more enjoyable.” (p.iv) “It recognizes that in science we teach and learn by combining language with pictures, diagrams, charts, tables, graphs and other specialized scientific and mathematical symbols. It places teachers’ and students’ use of scientific and everyday language in the real contexts of classroom dialogues, note-taking, groupwork, practical work, textbook reading, report writing and examinations. It is not simply language that matters in science education, but what we do with language.” (p.iv)

“In its nine chapters, Language and Literacy in Science Education examines many aspects of the two principal uses of language in science education: (a) how we use language as teachers and pupils to communicate and to structure learning; and (b) how we learn to use language as scientists themselves do – to name, describe, record, compare, explain, analyse, design, evaluate, and theorize how the natural world appears to us.” (p.iv)

Ref: (italics in original, emphases in blue bold, mine) Jay L. Lemke, foreword pp.iv-v in Jerry Wellington and Jonathan Osborne (2001) Language and Literacy in Science Education. Open University Press: Buckingham, Philadelphia.


About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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