Reading and Writing in Science: Tools to Develop Disciplinary Literacy

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Help students access content in ways that foster understanding and critical thinking in science!

Science literacy enables students to learn, reflect, and communicate about science throughout their lives. This book provides an approach for building secondary students’ disciplinary literacy and guiding students as they read science texts and produce their own writing. Written by a science educator and a literacy expert, this resource shows how to:

  • Build students’ background knowledge and vocabulary
  • Develop students’ science reading skills while they access content
  • Use writing frames, graphic organizers, writing-to-learn, and a writing protocol
  • Improve instruction and target specific needs through formative assessment

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Editorial Reviews

Patricia L. Anders
"Science teachers, literacy coaches, and reading specialists will find this helpful book a great starting point for teaching the language of science—reading, writing, and speaking about science to engage the powerful ideas of the discipline. The tried-and-true, research-based practices explained in this highly readable and inviting volume provide many with the start they need to successfully support science literacy development."
Karen D. Wood
"Grant and Fisher’s book talks to teachers, not just sharing the current research but actually drawing connections between research and practice. The authors use their own extensive teaching experience to take the reader into the classrooms of exceptional teachers and present scenarios of how to teach science concepts in engaging, motivating, and research-based ways. At last we have a book that recognizes that science teachers are not reading teachers, but they are promoters of science literacy, communicators of their field whose ultimate goal is to inform, enlighten, and foster strategic thinkers who have the potential to take our society to even greater heights."
Julia Reynolds
"Finally, a book that uses real ideas about science literacy and shares those in interesting and informative ways. The idea that science teachers are teachers of language—instead of the usual argument of reading—brings literacy to the forefront in using instructional routines that fit the context of science. Grant and Fisher understand that there is more to science instruction than just the content."
Ellen Levy
"Students of science need both content knowledge and discipline-specific literacy skills to participate in rigorous science content. This book shows us how to use literacy strategies to improve student performance and participation in the secondary science classroom."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781412956147
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications
  • Publication date: 10/21/2009
  • Pages: 100
  • Sales rank: 239,431
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 9.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Maria C. Grant is a professor in the Department of Secondary Education at California State University Fullerton and a classroom teacher at Health Sciences High & Middle College. She works with both preservice and veteran teachers in the credential and graduate programs. Her work includes research and publications in the area of literacy integration into content areas, with a central focus on science education. In addition to her efforts at the university, Grant's experience includes over 19 years of teaching in high school science classrooms. She has taught physics, oceanography, coordinated science, chemistry, and earth science. Additionally, she has acted as a leader in curriculum development and professional development at both the school and district levels. Her current efforts include professional development work centered on formative assessment.

Douglas Fisher, Ph.D., is Professor of Educational Leadership at San Diego State University and a teacher leader at Health Sciences High & Middle College. He is the recipient of an IRA Celebrate Literacy Award, NCTE’s Farmer Award for Excellence in Writing, as well as a Christa McAuliffe Award for Excellence in Teacher Education. Doug can be reached at

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Table of Contents

About the Authors
1. The Role of Language in Science
Learning Is Based in Language
Using Language in Science
2. Developing and Activating Background Knowledge
Why Background Knowledge Is Important
Determining Relevant Background Knowledge
Demonstrations: Understanding While Seeing
Anticipation Guides: Looking for Misconceptions
Bridging the Gap When Background Knowledge Is Scant
ReQuest: Teaching Apprentices to Question
DR-TA: Predicting as a Key to Scientific Reading
QAR: Connecting Questions With Answers
The Background Knowledge Big Picture
3. Integrating Vocabulary Instruction Into the Science Classroom
The Importance of Vocabulary
Vocabulary Self-Awareness Charts
Content Area Word Walls
Instructional Routines Useful for Developing Vocabulary
Semantic Feature Analysis: Assessing Relationships Between Words
Word Cards: Investigating Examples and Non-Examples
Semantic Mapping: Visualizing Word Relationships
Fostering Independent Word Learning in Science
Word Play Promotes Increased Vocabulary Knowledge
Vocabulary Helps Students Understand Science
4. Reading Science Texts
Helping Students Read Science Texts
Read-Alouds Support Student Learning
Shared Reading Defined and Implemented
The Benefits of Shared Reading
Releasing Responsibility to Students
Facilitating Collaborative Learning
ReQuest: Reading With Questions
Reciprocal Teaching: Practicing What Good Readers Do
Incorporating Independent Practice
Why Teach Reading in Science?
5. Writing in Science: Scaffolding Skills for Science Students
Writing Like a Scientist Is Different
WebQuest: Collecting Data to Write
Writing Frames: Scaffolding for Scientific Writing
Teaching Scientific Phrasing
Writing Formats in Science
Why Learn to Write Like a Scientist?
6. Assessing Student Learning in Science
The Purpose of Assessment in Science
Using Assessment Information
Identifying Specific Students' Needs
Creating Science Assessments
Types of Assessments Useful in Science
Final Thoughts About Assessment
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