Thursday, January 12, 2006

Helping students to understand science texts

While checking out the Carnival of Education, I found a gem from Ms. Frizzle's blog. Ms. Frizzle is a scienc teacher from the Bronx, whose adventures provide much enlightenment and entertainment (most of it coming from her descriptions of the bureaucratic hassles she encounters).

Ms. Frizzle invented a method to help students learn how to read science texts.
I realized that I needed to model notetaking for them, possibly by showing them several examples of notes on the same passage, and having them discuss which ones would be most useful for studying at a later point.

As I began thinking about today's lesson - another reading-oriented lesson, this time about machines & mechanical advantage - I realized that there are several aspects to successful content-area literacy. The goal is that the students will be able to learn new material from a text with little support from the teacher. The first thing they need to be able to do is figure out what's important in the text. Then they need to be able to reflect on it and play with it in their heads until they are sure they understand it. Finally, they need to write down the most important points and whatever supporting details they need in order to remember and review it later on.
She goes on to detail just how she manages the process of helping her students to "de-code" the text.

I know I'm going to try this out today. I'll post later this week how it worked.