My interest in the idea of sharing pedagogical purposes comes directly with the contact I have had with the Project for Enhancing Effective Learning at Monash University in Australia. Now each of these teachers were very active in establishing learning agendas with their classes. The impact they were having was inspiring. Each classroom tool can have a purpose beyond delivering content, and this needs to be shared.
I suppose the purpose of this website is collate, crystalise and open dialogues about how to increase this within classrooms. As the quote from Carl Bereiter illustrates this classroom methodology can empower our students.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Lieracy and Science part 2- Writing strategies.

This is the second part of a blog post on why and how developing literacy in Science is beneficial to teach and learning science.

 Unsurprisingly my educational appreciation of Connectives derives from my use of SOLO taxonomy. In a Science context, it also makes sense to classify them as in  these useful resources. This helps to chunk content knowledge with the appropriate connectives. For example while sequencing the route of blood through the heart, or a method. Sequencing is essential for lots of science concepts. Add to this the Cause and Effect connectives, such as because, therefore and due to and your students will have a decent start point for Scientific thinking armoury. This is the exact reason why being explicit with these is a great case in point for teaching literacy as it also develop Scientific thinking.

This photograph shows how useful they are to students. During a critique these Year 7 students (correctly) identified that the final paragraph needed restructuring to bring together all of the evidence. So I asked what connectives might be useful, the three they chose were most helpful as can be seen by the next two pictures of student draft two's!


A post on connectives structured around SOLO can be read here.
That Superman amongst us David Didau embellishes upon this here

One of the main focuses I have recently had is how students write. This has been especially during writing methods (instructions) and conclusions. I have encouraged, through critique and feedback for my students to write in the third person.  This has many benefits for learning Science. Firstly it encourages students to write more clearly about the Science, data, findings etc and not hide behind what they think or even what they did. The more I have thought about this the more I have come to realise that it encourages that wonderful Scientific trait of objectivity. That is to say, for the sake of an example.... By writing in the third person students are trained to become more objective in their thinking. (See it works!)

 This students work show the impact it has on the quality of the Scientific work. Surprisingly, this work only took twenty minutes, yet the progression is still taking place and started weeks ago. Learning eh! (Irony)

The Point Evidence Explain (P.E.E) paragraph has also become a regular feature as students learn to write conclusions to experiments or investigations. Although, this seems a straight forward method it is worth considering an "analysis" section or activity before students write. You'd think the need to have processed the data before you started writing would be a no brainer. Apparently it's not. As a result I have formalised the analysis  before requesting a P.E.E. paragraph for the conclusion. Don't let this put you off, the familiarity of P.E.E. to students does help make the abstract task of drawing conclusions at least a more structured affair.

Both connectives and the PEE paragraph allows the teacher to hoop jump, meeting the need for teachers to mark for literacy, but in a really  useful way for both the subject knowledge and literacy. Now that's subversive. I think the following examples show this and the impact of the marking, which even occurs between activities. Learning eh! (Irony)

and its follow up task ...

The role of projects, success criteria and critique in my development as a teacher has been central to my growing understanding of literacy and it's importance. Asking students to complete worthwhile tasks, that has an audience makes the use and emphasis upon literacy purposeful. This adds an essential ingredient, namely motivation. When you add this to the clear demonstration of progress (let reclaim that word) students see value in literacy. This is the power of teaching it in ALL curriculum areas, it becomes normal. I am yet to have a student complain or whine at the prospect  of practising their literacy, young people see it's a vital part of learning and being successful. So no matter how uncomfortable I feel using them, it has clarified how I look at my subject and how I teach it.

Using models whether teacher or student derived to draw out success criteria demonstrates this wonderfully. Increasingly students are suggesting these literacy qualities as part of their success. This is real progress for me.