To plan a unit in a science classroom, the students’ literacy practices must be taken into account. Literacy used in science is so precise that it has to be actively taught in the classroom. Within a lesson some of the strategies to doing this include identifying real world science topics that would interest the students, having them complete research, guiding them to evaluate data (Grant & Lapp 2011). One of the biggest issues with teaching is getting and keeping the students’ attention. This should be anticipated for during planning. The best way this can be avoided is by integrating things that interest the kids. What will affect them in their daily lives? What in my biology standards can I relate to real science?
The best way for me to explain what I would ideally do in my classroom is to give you an example. Standard H.B.4, which states: The student will demonstrate an understanding of the specific mechanisms by which characteristics or traits are transferred from one generation to the next via genes, could be addressed by having the students explore GMOs (Zais, 2014).
I would start by prompting them to find articles from the scientific community to determine if they think GMOs are safe for the general public. By giving my students this prompt I can give them opportunities reading and evaluating scientific articles. This will build their science literacy through exposure in a controlled environment. In this controlled environment, they would be learning cognitive, social, and critical science literacy to become members of the scientific community (Grant &Lapp, 2011). The cognitive literacy is understanding how scientists read a scientific article. The social literacy would be understanding what the authors of the article trying to tell and how they tell it. The emancipatory literacy can be seen in the students using the information to tell their viewpoint as well as see where the power is held in the GMO situation.
During our Educational literacy class, we talked about designing inquiry. I feel that this is easily accomplished in the using the GMO example. Within this topic, we can learn about biases in the scientific community. Why did the National Organic Coalition have a certain stance on GMOs? Why is that stance different from the National Farmers’ Alliance? Is one of their stances not backed up by scientific data? This leads into choosing texts that are valid for scientists. Outside of the classroom scientists struggle to eliminate biases from the research (Flint, 2010). This is next to impossible and this fact must be stressed to the students. We must teach them that you cannot just take everything you read as fact. In this unit, we can slowly explain how to do scientific research. In essence, we would scaffold how to be literate in science at the same time as teaching the standards of heredity and genetic structure.
We can respond to the students’ disciplinary literacies by recognizing what knowledge they already have and building off of it. If they have never seen a scientific journal article we can go through a few as a class and I can model the correct thought process as well as give them an idea of how to evaluate the article. (Side Note: I would not present GMO inquiry to a class of low SES urban students. I could present the material to a rural class as well as a class of affluent students.)
Educational Leadership:What Students Need to Learn:Teaching Science Literacy. (2017). Ascd.org. Retrieved 22 June 2017, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar11/vol68/num06/Teaching-Science-Literacy.aspx
SOUTH CAROLINA ACADEMIC STANDARDS AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS FOR SCIENCE. (2014).
Munafo, M., & Flint, J. (2010). How reliable are scientific studies?. Retrieved 23 June 2017, from