Science for all

The Science Teacher cover, March 2009Reading this issue’s articles on English Language Learners (ELLs) Challenges and Solutions for ELLs and Making the Connection — brought back memories of many students in my classes, but especially of Philippe, who moved to my town from Haiti. Philippe spoke a little English, but no one in our school spoke French or Haitian Creole. He must have felt very lonely and isolated. But one day on a field trip as we were collecting and studying aquatic arthropods, his eyes lit up and he began to share his experiences with crabs and other marine animals. Science provided a connection between Philippe and the other students.
I wish I would have had more resources to share with Philippe — but this was BI (before the Internet), so we were limited in what materials we could access. This is not the case in 2009! For example, the libraries at Visionlearning have resources that would supplement science units on a variety of topics — and this website and the resources are available in both English and Spanish. Spanish teachers may be interested in this site, too, to provide reading materials for SLL students (Spanish Language Learners).
And for students who struggle with reading, try searching for topics in SciLinks at a lower grade level. For example, if you’re looking for sites for a high school course, also search for the topic at the middle school or upper elementary levels. Many of these are very appropriate for any age group in terms of readability and interest.
Language diversity is not he only kind of diversity in our classrooms. The article Teaching with Multiple Methods in Mind describes ways to address the various learning styles and preferences that students have. There is also a topic in SciLinks with resources on working with Learners with Disabilities.
SciLinks also includes resources for reading and writing in science (although most of the sites at this time deal with reading). For example, LabWrite guides students through the process of writing lab reports. But the article Reflective Writing discusses the use of writing to help students to go beyond lab reports to reflect on what they are actually learning. This type of writing is often recorded in a Science Notebook.
As a sidebar, also check out SciLinks for Dichotomous Keys to supplement the article Classification and the Dichotomous Key. For example, the website What Is the Key to Classification? has more suggestions for helping students to create (as well as use) these keys.

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