Science and language go hand-in-hand. Without literacy, there is no communication. Without communication, there is no science.
By making literacy an integrated focus of the Science4Us curriculum, we hope to not only broaden the students’ vocabulary and understanding of scientific terminology, but we aim to make it literacy-rich enough to show teachers how they can teach literacy and science at the same time.
From systematic syllable practice to opportunistic vocabulary lessons, the Science4Us curriculum integrates literacy wherever possible.
Here are a variety of exercises to help your students build their vocabulary and improve their literacy skills while exploring scientific concepts with Science4Us.
Part III: Literacy Skill Strategies
Practice and Recite
Students choose a short passage, poem, or riddle related to a unit of study and practice reading it out loud independently. Students recite their piece of literature to the teacher or the whole class as appropriate.
Main Idea and Supporting Details
Main Idea and Word Match
Write 2-3 related main ideas from a passage or unit of study and several supporting vocabulary words for each. Students sort vocabulary words and match them to the appropriate main idea.
Main Idea and Picture Match
Write 2-3 related main ideas from a passage or unit of study and find or draw several supporting pictures for each. Students sort pictures and match them to the main idea.
Cause and Effect
Generate ideas that fit into each of the three categories in the table below. Students use this table to organize the cause and effect relationships.
Generate a list of cause and effect relationships and organize them into two columns. Students match the causes with their corresponding effects.
Lead a class discussion, and allow students to brainstorm examples of cause and effect relationships. Record responses on chart paper. Fill in an example “effect.” Students should generate potential causes. Record responses. Fill in an example “cause.” Students should generate potential effects. Record responses. Display chart in the classroom where students can refer to it as needed.
Display a word bank of cause and effect signal words/phrases. Explain that these are clue words that help identify cause and effect relationships. Choose a passage from a science text and project it so the class can read it together. Students start by reading the text and looking for the words independently. Next, the teacher should read the passage out loud and stop when a signal word is located. Discuss the cause and effect relationship identified. Make a two-column chart and record the example.
Choose a reading passage that offers multiple examples of cause and effect relationships. Project the passage on the front board using a document camera or a prepared overhead transparency. Read the passage once through out loud. Read the passage out loud again as the students listen specifically for cause and effect relationships. Read the passage a third time and ask the students to stop you by raising a hand when you read a cause and effect relationship. Students should come up to the board and identify the cause and effect relationship by underlining the cause and circling the effect.* Continue through the passage until all cause and effect relationships have been identified.
*Students can write directly on the front board with a dry erase marker or on the overhead projector using an overhead marker.
If … Then Statements
Facilitate a whole group discussion during which students practice writing “If…then” statements. Write an “If” statement as an example on your front board. Students brainstorm as many possibilities as they can think of to complete the sentence. Record responses. Repeat with examples as needed. Write a “then” statement example on the front board. Students brainstorm as many possibilities as they can think of to complete the sentence. Record student responses. Repeat with examples as needed. Students should record completed sentences in science journals. This method demonstrates how a single cause can have many effects as well as a single effect may have many causes.
Completed statement example:
If I drop a raw egg on the floor………………..then it will break open.
Narrative Writing in Nonfiction
Generate a word bank of science terms from a unit of study. Students use the vocabulary to write a narrative story. Students should be careful to use the science terms in context but the intent of the assignment is to inspire a creative story that is centered around the concepts being learned.
As students broaden their use of figurative language in this customized lesson for the motion unit, idioms should be defined and explained.
Compare and Contrast
This graphic organizer provides a visual representation of the similarities and differences of two objects. Students draw a large H in their journals. Characteristics that are unique to each individual object are listed down the vertical strikes of the H, whereas characteristics that the objects have in common are listed across the horizontal strike of the H.
A Venn Diagram is a type of diagram that uses circles to compare objects. Venn Diagrams help us sort objects into groups and make it easy to see how things are alike and how they are different. Students draw two large overlapping circles. Characteristics that the objects have in common are listed in the overlapping section of the circles, and characteristics that are unique to each individual object are listed in the outside sections of the circles.
Similarities and Differences
Generate a list of paired words from your unit of study. Students work in pairs to identify one similarity and one difference for each pair.
Categorize and Classify
Name Me Five …
Generate four to six categories that can be applied to a unit of study. Students list five original examples for each category using words or pictures as appropriate.
Sort the Groups
Generate a list of words associated with a unit of study, and then make some category labels for these words. Copy the list and distribute so the students can cut out and manipulate the words. Students work with a partner to categorize the words into labeled groups. Students glue the words onto construction paper when completed and add original examples using words or pictures as appropriate.
Categorizing Objects T-chart
Generate a list of objects and two category headings. Students use a t-chart to place the objects into the correct group.
Students brainstorm words or pictures of objects associated with a topic that start with each letter of the alphabet.
Drawing the Words
Fold construction paper to make squares. Students fill the squares with pictures that represent each vocabulary word.
Vocabulary Index Cards
Students use large index cards to complete this strategy.
In the center of the card, write the vocabulary word in large letters.
In the upper left hand corner, write the definition.
In the upper right hand corner, write a synonym.
In the lower left hand corner, write the part of speech.
In the lower right hand corner, draw a picture or symbol that represents the word.
Cloze Activity: Vocabulary
Choose a paragraph or passage related to a unit of study. Copy with a few key vocabulary words omitted, and leave blanks where the words were. Copy for students as needed. Students use a word bank and work with partners to fill in the blanks with vocabulary words.
Analogies are comparison statements that highlight relationships between objects or words that may appear to have nothing in common. Use analogies to reinforce and assess relationships between vocabulary words or key concepts.
Example: Up is to down as above is to _________. (over, below)
Vocabulary Draw It!
Students work in teams to guess which vocabulary word a team member has drawn. Students use definitions on index cards for assistance. When a team guesses correctly, a point is awarded. If a team guesses incorrectly, the other team has a chance to steal a point by correctly identifying the vocabulary word depicted.
Recorded Vocabulary Words
Record each word and its definition on an audio cassette tape or other device. Students listen to the vocabulary words and definitions using headphones as part of a center. Include picture examples of each word when appropriate.
Students use the graphic organizer to place new vocabulary words into the appropriate categories.