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Reading and Writing in Science

Reading and Writing in Science
Tools to Develop Disciplinary Literacy

Edited by:

120 pages | Corwin
Coauthored by a science educator and a literacy expert, this book offers science teachers a collection of research-based literacy strategies to help students develop science vocabulary, comprehend science textbooks and other reading materials, and engage in writing assignments that lead to better understanding of science content.

To help teachers enhance and deepen science content learning, Reading and Writing in Science: Strategies to Develop Disciplinary Literacy includes science-specific examples to illustrate the teaching strategies. The authors also provide structures for scaffolding textbook access, ways for teachers to expand literacy in the classroom through the use of trade books, and methods for assessing student learning.

About the Authors
1. The Role of Language in Science
Learning Is Based in Language

Using Language in Science

2. Developing and Activating Background Knowledge
Why Background Knowledge Is Important

Determining Relevant Background Knowledge

Demonstrations: Understanding While Seeing

Anticipation Guides: Looking for Misconceptions

Bridging the Gap When Background Knowledge Is Scant

ReQuest: Teaching Apprentices to Question

DR-TA: Predicting as a Key to Scientific Reading

QAR: Connecting Questions With Answers

The Background Knowledge Big Picture

3. Integrating Vocabulary Instruction Into the Science Classroom
The Importance of Vocabulary

Vocabulary Self-Awareness Charts

Content Area Word Walls

Instructional Routines Useful for Developing Vocabulary

Semantic Feature Analysis: Assessing Relationships Between Words

Word Cards: Investigating Examples and Non-Examples

Semantic Mapping: Visualizing Word Relationships

Fostering Independent Word Learning in Science

Word Play Promotes Increased Vocabulary Knowledge

Vocabulary Helps Students Understand Science

4. Reading Science Texts
Helping Students Read Science Texts

Read-Alouds Support Student Learning

Shared Reading Defined and Implemented

The Benefits of Shared Reading

Releasing Responsibility to Students

Facilitating Collaborative Learning

ReQuest: Reading With Questions

Reciprocal Teaching: Practicing What Good Readers Do

Incorporating Independent Practice

Why Teach Reading in Science?

5. Writing in Science: Scaffolding Skills for Science Students
Writing Like a Scientist Is Different

WebQuest: Collecting Data to Write

Writing Frames: Scaffolding for Scientific Writing

Teaching Scientific Phrasing

Writing Formats in Science

Why Learn to Write Like a Scientist?

6. Assessing Student Learning in Science
The Purpose of Assessment in Science

Using Assessment Information

Identifying Specific Students' Needs

Creating Science Assessments

Types of Assessments Useful in Science

Final Thoughts About Assessment


"Science teachers, literacy coaches, and reading specialists will find this helpful book a great starting point for teaching the language of science—reading, writing, and speaking about science to engage the powerful ideas of the discipline. The tried-and-true, research-based practices explained in this highly readable and inviting volume provide many with the start they need to successfully support science literacy development."

Patricia L. Anders, Distinguished Professor
University of Arizona

"Grant and Fisher’s book talks to teachers, not just sharing the current research but actually drawing connections between research and practice. The authors use their own extensive teaching experience to take the reader into the classrooms of exceptional teachers and present scenarios of how to teach science concepts in engaging, motivating, and research-based ways. At last we have a book that recognizes that science teachers are not reading teachers, but they are promoters of science literacy, communicators of their field whose ultimate goal is to inform, enlighten, and foster strategic thinkers who have the potential to take our society to even greater heights."

Karen D. Wood, Professor and Graduate Reading Program Coordinator
University of North Carolina, Charlotte

"Finally, a book that uses real ideas about science literacy and shares those in interesting and informative ways. The idea that science teachers are teachers of language—instead of the usual argument of reading—brings literacy to the forefront in using instructional routines that fit the context of science. Grant and Fisher understand that there is more to science instruction than just the content."

Julia Reynolds, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction
Northview Public Schools, Grand Rapids, MI

"Students of science need both content knowledge and discipline-specific literacy skills to participate in rigorous science content. This book shows us how to use literacy strategies to improve student performance and participation in the secondary science classroom."

Ellen Levy, Author of Constructing Meaning

Maria Cassandra Grant

Maria C. Grant, EdD, is a professor in the Department of Secondary Education at California State University Fullerton and the director of the Single Subject Credential Program at CSUF. She works with both pre-service and in-service teachers in the credential program and at school sites. Her work includes research and publications in the areas of disciplinary literacy, literacy in the content areas, science education, and pedagogy. In addition to her efforts at the university, Maria’s experience includes many years of teaching in high school and middle school science classrooms. She has taught physics, oceanography, coordinated science,... More About Author

Douglas Fisher

Douglas Fisher is professor and chair of educational leadership at San Diego State University and a leader at Health Sciences High and Middle College. Previously, Doug was an early intervention teacher and elementary school educator.  He is a credentialed teacher and leader in California.  In 2022, he was inducted into the Reading Hall of Fame by the Literacy Research Association. He has published widely on literacy, quality instruction, and assessment, as well as books such as Welcome to Teaching, PLC+, Teaching Students to Drive their Learning, and Student Assessment: Better Evidence, Better Decisions, Better Learning. More About Author