Although the fact is not often recognized by educators, science and literacy are connected. As teachers, we must begin to recognize and leverage the role of language in science and this can be done with low-cost, readily-available educational DVDs.
Critical to science inquiry are the skills of reading, writing, and oral communication. For example, in science, we:
o Often read volumes of information before beginning experiments
o Write (almost continuously) to record experiments in minute detail
o Present scientific findings for others to read and evaluate
Educational standards for both science and English/language arts also dictate that science education involve more than acquisition of the scientific skills and facts, such as:
o writing procedures
o following procedures
o expressing concepts
o reviewing information
o summarizing data
o effective use of language
o constructing a reasoned argument
o responding appropriately to critique
When seeking to link science and literacy in the classroom, the goal is to address the four primary literacy components inherently present in science: Science Talks/Discussions, Science Notebooks, Reading Expository Text, and Formal Scientific Reports.
How Educational DVDs Can Help
Science Talks/Discussions – after viewing one or more educational DVDs on a particular topic, students discuss what they learned or present an oral report
Science Notebooks – students record in their notebooks, the findings from an educational DVD demonstrating a lab experiment
Reading Expository Text – students view an educational DVD, read expository text on the same subject and discuss how the writer captured (or did not capture) the appropriate information
Formal Scientific Reports – after viewing several educational DVDs on the same topic and taking notes, students are charged with creating a formal scientific report
Example Lessons for Integrating Literacy Education in Science
Unit: Electric Circuits
Lesson 1 – Discuss what the students already know about electric circuits, have them create drawings showing their thoughts
Lesson 2 – Show one or more educational DVDs on electric circuits
Lesson 3 – Allow students to work with batteries, bulbs, wires, motors to explore electric circuits and keep a science notebook on their findings.
Lesson 4 – Have students orally report their findings to the class using their notebook entries to support their conclusions
Lesson 5 – Have students read high-quality informational texts and make inferences from the material presented
Lesson 6 – Have students create a formal scientific report
The example above is provided only as a starting point for teachers. Overall change in classroom practice can only happen with additional reflection, study, and dialogue among teachers.
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The small company I work for is committed to creating quality educational videos for classroom instruction. From the earliest script stages, all subject area content, images, and music are intensely reviewed and selected for meeting appropriate grade level, curriculum objectives and standards for our proprietary productions. The videos we distribute are also screened to meet our high standards.
Teachers in the 21st century classroom will be better educators if they understand how to use multi media in their lessons, if they understand the processes that research has shown to be the most effective for improved student performance, and if they know how to find quality video resources that will enhance their lessons.