ALL for Science—an Education Framework for Merging English Language Arts and Science
Authentic Literacy and Language (ALL) for Science is a curriculum framework designed to support students’ learning of the true-to-life language of science and scientists while participating in inquiry-based science activities. The framework is designed to promote both science sense-making and language sense-making through three aligned components, shown in the figure below:
Guided Science Investigation: Students are guided by the teacher in a facilitated hands-on science exploration based on a model organism or system. This is where children engage in the practice of hands-on science inquiry just as if they were in a lab with other scientists.
Research on the importance of guided science investigations suggests that these hands-on investigations not only help develop scientific concepts in children but also cultivate positive feelings associated with science.
Each guided science investigation activity contains a section titled “Background Information,” with details and guidance to aid understanding of the concepts covered. These sections are intended for teachers only and should not be used as part of direct instruction with the learners.
Science-Based Mini-Lesson: Students are engaged in a science-based literacy strategy that is relevant for use with scientific, expository, and web-based texts and multimedia texts. It is during this part of the framework that children have access to intentional instruction—where their teacher co-constructs an understanding of specific reading strategies that will help them read, write, speak, listen, and think like scientists as they read and produce scientific texts.
Research on this component suggests that successful teachers of comprehension instruction provide opportunities for their children to engage with reading strategies while also helping children discover the “secrets” (or the underlying processes) of reading strategies.
Science Inquiry Circles: Students form small, text-based research groups, or inquiry circles, that provide a much-needed space and place for them to interact with and create their own scientific texts. The scientific texts are a complement to the guided science investigations: they support the same conceptual development taught in the guided science investigations (e.g., heredity and life cycles, interdependence among organisms, producers in an ecosystem), but they also provide a text-based opportunity for children to continue to develop an understanding of the concept under study.
Science inquiry circles are the place where children put into practice the science-based literacy strategies they learn during the science-based mini-lesson while providing ongoing opportunities to circle back through previously learned science-based reading strategies.
These three daily components are connected by each unit’s overarching topic. The literacy and science lessons may be taught separately throughout the day or back-to-back during a large block of time. For example, the science-based mini lesson and science inquiry circle groups can be conducted in the morning during the reading and language arts block, and the guided science investigation activity can occur in the afternoon.
5E Model of Learning
ALL for Science curriculum employs the 5E learning model to develop students’ science knowledge. This approach has been refined and disseminated by BSCS Science Learning. Elements of the 5E learning cycle are listed below:
Engage. Students are presented with a question, an interesting example, or a problem. This phase connects students’ past and present experiences and enables the teacher to estimate learners’ prior knowledge, identify misconceptions, and stimulate interest in the learning experiences that will follow.
Explore. Students participate in actual experiences with physical materials, representations of data, or media. Students may do experiments, collect data, make observations and connections, and ask questions. Students usually work in groups, with the teacher acting as a coach or facilitator to guide students as they conduct the investigations themselves.
Explain. Students begin to make sense of their data, describe their observations, and develop their own explanations. Students listen to other learners’ explanations and defend their own. The teacher’s role in this phase is to ask appropriate questions, guide students (to include addressing misconceptions), and direct them to helpful resources.
Elaborate. Students use the information they have gathered to propose solutions and apply what they have learned to new and different situations. The teacher’s role is to help students extend their ideas to reach a much broader conclusion than the one they derived initially by conducting their own investigations.
Evaluate. Students judge their own learning progress. Teachers may also evaluate students’ knowledge or skills development. If necessary, teachers may develop alternate assessment strategies to help students focus on new information and understand the lesson in greater depth.
Click here to learn more about applying the 5E learning-cycle approach to teaching science inquiry.
STEM, Science Learning, and Science Literacy
Early STEM experiences develop students’ interest and knowledge and contribute to later success in science-related careers. Yet many students do not have access to authentic science-learning practices that encourage them to persist in STEM-related coursework or envision themselves in the roles of STEM professionals.
Being able to read, write, listen, and speak using the language of science and the other STEM fields is key to students’ success in these areas for several reasons: (1) language can help students develop their identities as members of the science community; (2) identity development may influence decisions to pursue science-related courses or careers; and (3) students who are effective readers and writers in the context of science may be more likely to persist in science.
All for Science weaves hands-on science learning with English language arts so that students develop skills and habits of mind that reflect how scientists communicate and solve problems in the real world. The units connect science concepts and guided inquiry activities to reading/language arts, as well as mathematics, health, and wellness. Units are appropriate for use during class time or after school.
The ALL for Science framework was developed by the K–3 STEM Foundations project funded by the Science Education Partnership Awards program of the National Institutes of Health. The curriculum aligns with state standards and national Next Generation Science Standards. A link to the All for Science Overview Guide for Teachers is provided below. Additional ALL for Science units are currently being field tested.
ALL for Science units:
Funded by the following grant(s)
The Authentic Literacy and Language (ALL) for Science Project is supported by a grant from the Science Education Partnership Program, National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (grant number R25 GM142019). Educational materials produced by the project are free for downloading and use in your classroom.