This year marks the first year that I have to demonstrate that I am teaching the Common Core standards for science literacy. After reading over the standards, I’m pretty sure it’s something I’ve been doing over the last few years anyway. Now it just has to be explicit that students are reading and analyzing at the appropriate level.
The previous principal at my school strongly encouraged all of us teachers to complete our Reading Endorsements. I completed my endorsement a few years ago, and feel like it was worthwhile. It gave me a lot of strategies to help students understand a sometimes-difficult science course. I remember reading an article recently that proposed that many students read non-fiction the same way they read fiction: they start at the beginning and read straight through. They don’t stop to look up unfamiliar words (and, honestly, in science students encounter a lot of unfamiliar words), they don’t look at the diagrams and pictures, they don’t read the captions, and they don’t stop to ask themselves. By reading their science textbooks in a fiction-like manner, is it any wonder that they don’t learn much from their reading? This is especially true of my biology students. Many of them are barely reading at grade level (10th grade), and a too-large number are still reading at middle school levels. About 1/3 to 1/2 of my students are ESE, meaning they may have other learning issues that make it doubly hard for them to make solid meaning out of what they are reading.
Thanks to Pinterest, I learned about anchor charts over the summer. Even though many of them are geared to an elementary school audience, I can see the value of using them when I essentially have to teach or re-teach non-fiction reading skills. I found an example that had been pinned and repinned, which means that I have not been able to find the original poster so I can properly credit my source.
I’m the first to admit my handwriting, while neat, isn’t beautiful, so I found a font I liked and printed out my headings (150-size font, in case you’re interested). I traced around the letters onto my posterboard, then used pencil to follow the indentations.
But outlining was pretty tedious, so I decided to just cut out the rest of the headings and glue them onto the anchor chart. Then I copied samples of each of the text features from our current textbook and added them to my poster. Finally, I wrote a description of each text feature. When we get back to school for pre-school teacher work days, I’m going to have the poster laminated so it lasts longer.
I haven’t really started lesson planning for school yet, but the ideas are bubbling around in my brain. This will most likely be a lesson in the first week or two of school, when we usually cover basic science skills such as scientific method, graphing, and lab safety. The textbook publisher didn’t make a textbook scavenger hunt for this book, but I may do that to help the kids get familiar with these nonfiction text structures.