Science: A Base for Relating, Reasoning and Representing
|Above image captured from http://www.nwf.org/Kids/Ranger-Rick-Jr/Lets-Read.aspx|
...Competent early childhood education professionals have always used literature across the curriculum, including natural science (Shapiro, 1995). Tomlinson and Brown (1996) suggest that such literature provides accurate information in understandable and interesting language; creates a ready source of factual source of information about personal and group based sciencebased questions and interests; offers topical information from varied viewpoints; and presents excellent models of scientific methods of observation, hypothesis formulation, data gathering, experimentation, and evaluation. Thus, literature helps children develop inquiring minds and a scientific approach to thinking about and solving problems in increasingly sophisticated ways (Howe, 1993). Stories about natural science, in addition, foster an appreciation, understanding, and respect for living things (Mayesky, 1998)...
...There is an abundance of well written, information relevant children's books on the market today. Criteria for selection of natural science-based children's literature ideally parallel those used for other high quality literary resources. Additional consideration should be given to the representation and presentation of the science presented within these books.
Quality, Natural Science-Based Books:
• provide current, factual content. The world and its inhabitants portrayed are true to nature (Sawyer & Comer, 1996);
• contain clear and simple explanations. Captions and labels are clearly written and effectively displayed (Mayesky, 1998);
• present a depth and complexity of subject treatment that is closely matched to the developmental and interest level of an individual child or group of children (Howe, 1993; Sawyer & Comer, 1996);
• adhere to content that supports the overarching philosophy of a program and specific learning goals for young children;
• present information in captivating, beautifully illustrative narratives (Tomlinson & Brown, 1996); and
• possess a completeness and ease of use that allow children to quickly answer questions on scientific topics or enable them to explore scientific areas more effectively (Sawyer & Comer, 1996).
"Science can be a nexus for learning English for English Language Learners (ELLs) because it provides a natural setting to learn a language. Engaging ELLs in these practices merits special attention, because such engagement can support both science learning and language learning, but unfortunately, instruction in U.S. classrooms has not tended to bridge the two."
On a recent day, pupils first learn the words to talk about the long brown-and-gray earthworms slithering in Petri dishes on their desks before they're allowed to observe them. Seeing, hearing, and discussing the science helps them with the vocabulary to label drawings in their science journals and talk about what they and their partners find examining the worms when the full class reconvenes.
But the language learned in Sonoma's science lessons flourishes mostly by students' need to use it when they see and touch the natural world through in-class experiments, teachers say. That almost artful integration of language instruction into science makes students unaware they are actually learning; they just want to talk about what they experience.