Enacting Integrated Science-Literacy Units in Primary Classrooms: Opportunities and Tensions
Christine Pappas, Maria Varelas, Eli-Tucker Raymond
University of Illinois-Chicago
Ruiz Elementary School, Chicago
Chicago Public School teachers and university-based researchers have been collaborating on developing, implementing, and studying integrated science-literacy units that engage young urban children in a variety of experiences that include reading information books, doing and explaining hands-on explorations, acting out scientific phenomena and processes, keeping journals and semantic maps, writing their own information books, and doing home explorations. In this session we focus on two units: (1) states of matter and the water cycle and (2) forest ecosystems. Members of the team will share classroom vignettes and examples of student writing in order to explore and discuss the opportunities that arise, and the tensions that the teachers face, as these diverse and complex experiences unfold in urban classrooms. As participants engage in this discussion, they will consider various ways that teachers may offer young children opportunities to share and develop both their understandings and their language of science. Various instructional approaches will be presented and discussed that are consistent with dialogically oriented teaching, and various learning outcomes will be shared. The presenters will also highlight examples of children's "emergent" understandings, how to hear them, and how they can lead to further learning.