Literacy Strategies for Science

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a science teacher, you might be wondering how to boost your students' literacy while you teach the content of your course. This lesson will give you some concrete literacy strategies to use in science class.

Why Teach Literacy in Science?

When you became a science teacher, you may have pictured yourself just doing experiments with children and helping them make discoveries. Yet, you'll soon learn that a big part of learning and teaching science actually has to do with reading and writing. Most of the background knowledge that students will need, as well as the skills they should develop in order to do their best work and thinking, will come from reading scientific texts. Further, when students know how to write well, they will be better able to explain their questions, procedures and findings in sensible and analytical ways. For all of these reasons, it is deeply important for teachers of science to incorporate literacy instruction. Reading and writing in science is not the same as reading and writing fiction, so, as a science teacher, you have the unique opportunity to develop skills that students can use in scientific work for the rest of their lives. This lesson offers you some key strategies for increasing students' science literacy.

Build Vocabulary

One of the most important ways you can help students become literate in science is by building their vocabulary. When planning a new unit, think about which particular, specialized words will help students read and write about the topic at hand. Some great ways to build science vocabulary include:

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