Illinois science teachers association

Login


Professional Learning Blog Center



ISTA BLRelated imageGS

  • 16 Jul 2017 8:00 AM | Aimee Park (Administrator)
    What is a word wall?  

    Reading Rockets defines a word wall as a collection of words which are displayed in large visible letters on a wall, bulletin board, or other display surface in a classroom. The word wall is designed to be an interactive tool for students and contains an array of words that can be used during writing and reading. 

    A vocabulary acquisition tool, word walls are used in conjunction with other strategies to build academic vocabulary. By displaying high frequency words, students have a visual tool to help them articulate words in discussion, reading, and writing. 


    What role do word walls play in an NGSS science classroom? 

    With the shift to student-centered, three-dimensional learning, there is a great need for students to acquire and use scientific academic vocabulary.  In order for students to engage in discussion, draft scientific explanations, and obtain, evaluate, and communicate information, students must understand core ideas and have a command of the related scientific vocabulary.  Word walls, when used in tandem with three-dimensional learning, promote vocabulary acquisition.    


    How are word walls used in the NGSS classroom?

    While there are various methods of using word walls, making word walls an effective tool in the NGSS classroom can be accomplished using these guidelines.

    • Find a location in the classroom to create the word wall.  Consider a bulletin board, whiteboard, or chart paper.  As seen below, magnets can be used to attach the words and the whiteboard can be used to write connections between words on the word wall.


     
    • Determine a method for displaying the words. From sticky notes to sentence strips to templates, the possibilities are endless.  Select a method that works in your classroom and your budget.  
    • Develop a plan for adding words to the word wall.  Consider the following questions: Will students and teachers add words to the wall? How often will words be added to the word wall? Will illustrations also be included with the words? Will the wall be interactive and allow for examples to be included?  
    Image result for word walls
    • Discuss the word wall and the plan with your students.  Over the years, the word wall has become an integral part of tracking understanding. To accomplish this task, we only introduce words to the wall once the student scientists already understand the concepts.  
      • I explain the process to the students:  Scientists, we are going to be investigating many different phenomena. Along the way, we will make many discoveries. We will keep track of our discoveries using a few tools in the classroom. One tool is the word wall. On this wall, we will keep track of all the scientific words that relate to our discoveries.  That way, when we are discussing, writing, or reading, we can always reference the word wall. I would like your help in deciding when we should add a word to the wall.  And, we can write on the wall or add examples when we feel that will help us keep track of our learning. 

      • For example, the student scientists had been investigating how light interacts with objects and were focusing on how "see through" objects worked. The students designed an investigation to test various objects to determine what was happening to the light using a flashlight and light sensor. After investigating, student groups concluded that "see through" objects allowed a great deal of light through the object, while other objects did not let any light through, and some objects allowed some light through but were not "see through."  After discussing their data and reaching consensus, I introduced the words that other scientists use to describe those different types of objects as transparent, opaque, and translucent. We added these words to the wall and added our descriptions of the word. Students then attached various materials to the cards - plastic wrap, wax paper, and aluminum foil.  

    • Support student vocabulary acquisition with other strategies.  For example, when we add words to the word wall, we also record these words in student vocabulary notebooks.  Students use spiral bound note cards and follow a procedure for adding words to their notebooks. Younger students may have a journal to draw a picture of the word or attach examples.  Using online portfolios such as Seesaw also allow for students to track their understanding.   


    NGSS + Word Walls = Student Engagement

    Word walls are an excellent tool to support students in the classroom.  And, students can use these tools as they write, read, and discuss science.  I have often observed students look towards the word wall in discussion to find the word they are searching for in their minds.  Having this reference at the ready allows for students to engage in discussion and supports their thinking.  

    Image result for word walls

    Aimee Park, ISTA Director of Professional Learning, is a professional learning facilitator and sixth grade science teacher. Making sense of the Next Generation Science Standards with her own students and colleagues, Aimee has witnessed students engage in learning as scientists. Sharing her experiences, she has worked with K -12 educators, administrators, and professional learning providers to bring the Next Generation Science Standards to life for student scientists in classrooms across Illinois.  

    If you have any questions regarding the information shared in these blogs, contact Aimee at: istaprofessionallearning@gmail.com

  • 18 Jun 2017 8:00 AM | Aimee Park (Administrator)

    Coming soon...



    Aimee Park, ISTA Director of Professional Learning, is a professional learning facilitator and sixth grade science teacher. Making sense of the Next Generation Science Standards with her own students and colleagues, Aimee has witnessed students engage in learning as scientists. Sharing her experiences, she has worked with K -12 educators, administrators, and professional learning providers to bring the Next Generation Science Standards to life for student scientists in classrooms across Illinois.  

    If you have any questions regarding the information shared in these blogs, contact Aimee at: istaprofessionallearning@gmail.com


  • 01 Jun 2017 4:39 PM | Bridina Lemmer (Administrator)

    Q: My school is really focused on Math and ELA across the content areas and I’m losing time for science. Do you have any suggestions on how I can advocate for science?

    This is one of the most common questions I am asked, and also one of the most important ones. It’s a hard conversation to have, but a crucial one if we are truly advocates for high quality science education for all kiddos. I work almost exclusively with schools and districts that have been specifically identified for their students’ struggles with math and ELA, so not many of them are too focused on science- but I have worked with more than a dozen of these schools to MAKE science a focus for improvement.

    So how do you broach that topic, when it’s not a priority? More importantly, how do you make it a priority? Here are some of the things I’ve used to broach the topic and start the discussion.

    Many (perhaps even most) admin don’t come from a science background

    This means the vast majority of their experience in science education has been their own K-12 science education, which has not been NGSS. It’s a lot easier to rationalize (in their minds anyway), minimizing that kind of classroom experience in favor of working on a Math or ELA standard. Here are 3 great videos from Illinois teachers (and ISTA members!) that highlight what an example NGSS classroom looks like at elementary, middle, and high school.

    Did you know that science can engage reluctant learners and close achievement gaps for struggling learners? 

    I find that a lot of admin are interested in the research and evidence behind an idea. Three common reasons that kiddos don’t engage in a lesson are they are bored, afraid of failure, or don’t see why they should have to learn it (Daniels, 2005). While not an explicit conceptual shift, exploring and explaining naturally occurring phenomena is central to the NGSS classroom, and one of the best ways to build in relevancy for kiddos. There is a growing body of research and evidence that shows that EL students and students with learning disabilities show growth in Math and ELA by practicing those skills in their science classes. A report released in January highlights the power of integrating science with EL development instruction in California, and using NGSS science as a lever for equity for EL students. I highly recommend checking it out here for their key findings.

    Supporting Math and ELA with science doesn’t mean just reading more and doing more math problems. 

    Although the NGSS are aligned with the Common Core Math and ELA, science has its own specific content in the form of 3 intertwined dimensions that provide concrete, relevant situations and experiences for kiddos to practice and utilize similar skills across content areas. Rather than “do more math and ELA in science”, the discussion centers on supporting those skills WITHOUT sacrificing the science content. I also recommend being prepared to talk about the commonalities between Math, ELA and science skills and practices with this venn diagram and explanation.

    ISBE’s ESSA plans include Science Proficiency in the accountability system beginning in 2019-2020.  

    You can find the most current (as of this writing)Illinois ESSA plan here.



  • 29 Apr 2017 5:21 PM | Bridina Lemmer (Administrator)

    Musings from Dr. Dina on the March for Science 2017, Chicago, IL  

    The March for Science was an amazing show of support for science and scientific literacy. I had the opportunity to spend time at the Expo with many kiddos, parents, retirees and science supports that wanted to know more about how they can get involved in promoting and supporting science education in their areas. 

    Many just didn't know where to start, and it got me to thinking that this is the time to network with scientists, university professors, engineers, informal ed partners and local science groups in the common interest of protecting access and promoting equity in science education for ALL of our kiddos. Such a wonderful day, and I'm looking forward to carrying that momentum forward!


        

  • 29 Apr 2017 5:00 PM | Bridina Lemmer (Administrator)

    Special Guest post by Brian Aycock, Elementary Director

    Science educators were out in force at the March for Science in Chicago.  Standing together with fellow educators, we gathered to rally on Columbus Ave.  After rousing speeches from local leaders in science research and education, marchers turned to march on to museum campus as news helicopters hovered above, capturing the massive crowd-estimated to be around 60,000.  What an exciting, inspiring experience to be surrounded by the passionate front-line in defending scientific literacy amidst the day to day din of facebook feed news.  After marching down Columbus, marchers poured onto museum campus, and ventured to the March for Science Chicago Expo, where the inspiration continued!  So proud to be a part of this community!


              

Meet ISTA Bloggers

Instructional Practices in NGSS

Aimee Park, ISTA Director of Professional Learning, is a professional learning facilitator and sixth grade science teacher. Making sense of the Next Generation Science Standards with her own students and colleagues, Aimee has witnessed students engage in learning as scientists. Sharing her experiences, she has worked with K-12 educators, administrators, and professional learning providers to bring the Next Generation Science Standards to life in Illinois classrooms.  

If you have any questions regarding the information shared in these blogs, contact her at: istaprofessionallearning@gmail.com


Dear Dr. Dina...

Dr. Bredina Lemmer is the ISTA Director of Assessment and an instructional support specialist with the American Institutes for Research (AIR).  She works with schools and districts on implementing the Next Generation Science Standards and will share research and resources to address a variety of questions she encounters from teachers and admin like you.  

If you have a question or comment you would like to see addressed or if you would like more information about the content of her blogs, please contact her at: ilscienceassessment@gmail.com








Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software