1. Alison Billman
  2. Early Elementary Curriculum Director
  3. First Grade Second Language: Uniting Science Knowledge and Literacy Learning for English Learners
  4. http://NONE
  5. Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California Berkeley
  1. P David Pearson
  2. First Grade Second Language: Uniting Science Knowledge and Literacy Learning for English Learners
  3. http://NONE
  4. Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California Berkeley
  1. Kathryn Quigley
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/in/kathryn-chong-quigley-786b6943/
  3. Producer
  4. First Grade Second Language: Uniting Science Knowledge and Literacy Learning for English Learners
  5. http://NONE
  6. Lawrence Hall of Science
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Alison Billman

    Alison Billman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 02:15 a.m.

    Thank you for visiting the First Grade Second Language video! Some research shows that developing students’ knowledge positively impacts their literacy development and reading comprehension.  In this project our research team at Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley developed units to put this idea to the test in classrooms with high numbers of first grade students who were also learning English.  In these units, first grade students take on the role of scientists and engineers to learn science by figuring out a solution to a real world problem and by figuring out how the natural world works. Importantly, the units integrate reading, writing, and talking about science as tools for figuring out, discussing, and communicating science ideas.

    We are really interested in hearing your thoughts and questions about the project, particularly:

    1.                      What else you would like to know about the project and the curriculum?
    2.                      What questions does this video raise for you about teaching science in first grade classrooms?
    3.                      What challenges do you think we should anticipate when trying to implement this kind of curriculum more broadly?

    We look forward to your comments and suggestions!

     

  • Icon for: Margo Murphy

    Margo Murphy

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 12:12 p.m.

    I am so appreciative of your project that works to support what teachers are already focused on at that grade level (literacy) yet addressing a significant gap in early elementary (science) and a challenge in many regions (effective ESL that is able to focus on science ideas).  

    I would like to know from the participating teachers did it feel like a layer of "adding on" to an already full plate or were they able to adjust time so that literacy goals were met while also being able to do science?   I know some regions have very prescriptive literacy programs.  How do you think this would work in an environment that is less flexible?  

    Do you have any plans for a broader implementation?

  • Icon for: Alison Billman

    Alison Billman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 01:04 p.m.

    In fact we were working in a situation that included a very tight following of a literacy program on the one hand, but in which teachers had a few degrees of freedom. More than a conflict between programs in one classroom we were faced with the teacher's belief regarding what children needed to do in order to learn how to read--that is, this teacher thought we were asking kids to do something that was out of their reach. Teachers who took the leap and implemented the whole program (doing, talking, reading, and writing) with greater fidelity were surprised at how much the kids grew and developed as readers overall. We don't have a measure that can answer why; but, we observed highly engaged and motivated students and would guess that motivation contributed to persistence in learning. One teacher noted that she observed her students using more strategies to understand some of the more challenging texts e.g., the reference book in the program. We only had to persuade a few principals to let us try the project--getting a school district on board may be a bigger challenge. We do have three large districts on board for an efficacy study, though; and, the funding is pending for that efficacy study.

     
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    Margo Murphy
  • Icon for: Sally Crissman

    Sally Crissman

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 04:10 p.m.

    It's great you have those districts on board for an efficacy study. I really hope you're able to complete that study.

    Some of the districts we work with have very little wiggle room and science has been eclipsed or eliminated by the literacy/math focus. When I taught science to first graders, an introduction to the intrigues of the natural world sent kids hungrily to books to learn more and motivated learning to read. I echo Mary in understanding that there are lots of good things teachers would like to include in the first grade day but many are constrained by schedules and requirements. 

    In our recent work with upper elementary students just learning English, we observed (no measurement although we'd really like to take that on) that science activities focused on firsthand exploration of materials coupled with opportunities to talk and write or draw with peers in small and large groups were successful strategies for learning science and developing language, both talking and writing. I suspect reading also benefits! 

    Sally

  • Icon for: Maia Binding

    Maia Binding

    Curriculum Developer
    May 14, 2018 | 06:30 p.m.

    Allison, This is such an exciting project! Can you talk a little bit more about how you worked with the reluctant teachers to get them to "take the leap" and implement the curriculum as designed? We've had similar challenges in middle and high school curriculum field tests, etc and I'd love to hear how you worked through that with them (or if you have alternate suggestions of what NOT to do!).

     

  • Icon for: Alison Billman

    Alison Billman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 11:41 p.m.

    Maia: The project used a iterative design methodology. Some of the teachers were collaborators from the very beginning and provided important feedback in the design of the curriculum. I feel that this increased their investment and commitment to implementing the curriculum with fidelity in the implementation study--the one that counted. In other cases (with reluctant teachers) we provided some support with materials preparation for the hands-on investigations to reduce some preparation burden, made sure to duly acknowledge their concerns, and made sure we were available for answering questions about implementation. That said, some teachers' "leaps" were smaller for various reasons including a range of challenges not related to the curriculum--things we couldn't change or address. 

  • Icon for: Maia Binding

    Maia Binding

    Curriculum Developer
    May 15, 2018 | 02:10 p.m.

    Alison, It's always a tough thing, and so often outside of our (or the teacher's control). I'm glad to hear that so much of it is going well, and it sounds like you've really made a difference with the teachers who made those leaps. Congrats!

  • Icon for: Alison Billman

    Alison Billman

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 06:31 p.m.

    Yes, we are excited about the efficacy study. Another couple of things about the program itself and the teaching of it that may be useful for you. First, we  carefully selected CCSS-ELA standards that we could address in the curriculum--so in that respect teaching the units is a way to meet both NGSS and CCSS-ELA standards. We hope that this makes it "easier" to include in the school day because the integrated science and literacy curriculum is supporting the teachers in also meeting literacy standards. We did use a developmental spelling measure as a way to assess word reading ability at pre and post and then to see if there were any negative impacts on learning to read based on participation in the full treatment group. There were no negative effects--so we also take that as information that may persuade more teachers/districts to embrace the curriculum.

    Second, we only expected this curriculum to be taught about three times a week--not everyday. And, each lesson is designed in "chunks" or activities that could be taught in smaller time frames as long as activities are not skipped. This would give teachers  flexibility by allowing them to designate smaller time-frames per day to teaching science and spread a unit out over more weeks.

    It sounds like your work, Sally, addresses some of the same goals we are addressing: developing oral language and literacy skills. I bet you would find benefits in reading as well. Are you familiar with John Guthrie's work with the CORI curriculum? 

     

  • May 15, 2018 | 05:32 p.m.

    What an interesting program! Did you make any specific modifications to the content for English learners?

  • Icon for: Alison Billman

    Alison Billman

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 06:16 p.m.

    Doris: 

    We did not make any modifications to the content learning goals for English learners. We aimed to account for ELs' linguistic needs within the design of the curriculum. The multimodal emphasis in the design of instruction that we used is highly congruent with research about the development of language and background knowledge for Els as well as for young students who are just developing facility with language and literacy.  Many features of the curriculum represent practices known to meet the linguistic needs of ELs, such as use of routines, realia, graphic representations of abstract concepts, and supports for constructing explanations (e.g., language frames). We are currently doing some additional analysis of the science knowledge assessment transcripts to better understand the language constraints some children faced in communicating their understanding and potentially to better understand the knowledge/language relationship for those children in learning the science content. 

  • Icon for: Jessica A. Knoll

    Jessica A. Knoll

    K-12 Teacher
    May 15, 2018 | 07:04 p.m.

    I absolutely love this idea! In our school, we noticed that on standardized tests our students scored much lower when they were reading non-fiction texts. There was a big push in our school to incorporate more non-fiction texts in our literacy program. I began to incorporate a lot more non-fiction texts into my guided reading groups. I also bought a lot of National Geographic for Kids books. The children love reading them so much I can barely keep them on the shelf. The books have made the children very inquisitive about the world around them. Incorporating science into a literacy program with hand-on experiments will bridge more of a connection to the book and the topic. I have also found, when I am teaching a science unit, the students have never heard of the vocabulary and have difficulty reading the vocabulary. I feel like I spend so much time teaching the vocabulary that a lot of valuable content and ideas get lost in the shuffle. I am curious about how the best way to incorporate this into the classroom is. Would you use this in place of a set science time? Is this better used in a whole group setting, or with guided reading groups? Could you supplement books at the children's reading level that way they have their own personal book that they can read and helps to differentiate instruction?

     

     

  • Icon for: Alison Billman

    Alison Billman

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 07:59 p.m.

    Greetings, Jessica. 

    I appreciate your enthusiasm! Your experiences with children and informational books are similar to mine when I was teaching first grade.

    For this project: When we were working in the design phase of the project one question we had was whether we should do hands-on investigating or reading activities first. We found that it didn't really matter which came first, but it was important to connect the talking and the vocabulary all of the time regardless. One foundational principle for our work is that words are concepts. For example, think about the word gravity. A deep understanding of gravity requires more than a definition and there isn't really an everyday word that can stand in its place. Many experiences and investigations with different materials and objects are needed to build a deep understanding of that concept. While we don't take on teaching first graders about gravity, it is a good example for that principle—words are concepts. Learning words/vocabulary is intimately connected to learning science (or the conceptual ideas of any domain). Thinking of vocabulary development as knowledge development may keep science ideas from getting lost in the shuffle.

    We present our curriculum as science curriculum--we don't feel that it should take the place of a curriculum that focuses on learning how to read (e.g., word reading skills, fluency, literature, etc.) However, there are elements of this curriculum such as reading for information, composing explanations, learning vocabulary and ways of talking about science that support teachers in meeting the requirements of standards policies such as the Common Core State Standards for ELA. In that way, it is a complement to a language/literacy curriculum.

    Regarding the structure of the instruction: the lessons are designed so that one lesson includes a variety of activities organized so that students can sustain attention and engagement. Some parts of the lessons are whole group and some are partner activities. The books are designed to be read in a variety of formats (read aloud; shared; partner) depending on where they come in the unit. This helps us meet our goal for supporting access to the content for all students. Frequently books that are written at different readability levels deliver different amounts of information and so disadvantage those students who are reading lower level books. 

    Learning how to read is hard work for young kids. As adults we may not remember the effort that it took for us to learn how to read. When kids are interested in learning about something—which it sounds like the students in your classroom are highly motivated to read those informational books you have gathered—the motivation to read helps them to persist in the work of learning how to read. 

    I hope this information helps answer the questions you had. I am happy to answer more. Best wishes in your teaching!

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    Researcher
    May 16, 2018 | 08:11 p.m.

    Hi Alison,

    Thank you for sharing your work on integrating literacy and science in early elementary!  I'm intrigued by the phrase "reading like a scientist" -- can you say more about how you and the design team think about that, and how it may be similar to/distinct from other forms or purposes?  We're also thinking about interactive read-alouds in early elementary science and how to promote critical consumership (e.g., reading to enhance my reasoning, rather than reading for "the answer").

  • Icon for: Alison Billman

    Alison Billman

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 04:05 p.m.

    Hi Jessica,

    I really appreciate your question! I firmly believe that language and literacy are tools we (people) use to engage with all aspects of the world around us—including the natural world and the discipline of science. When my team says “read like a scientist” (or speak, listen, talk) we mean bringing ways of thinking and learning about the world that communities of scientists use to the tasks of reading, writing, and communicating. When scientists read, they sometimes are reading for the purposes of building deeper understanding of particular concepts—in other words, reading to find out more about something. Sometimes they are reading to gather evidence that helps them explain a phenomenon or construct an argument. Sometimes they are reading to find out what other scientists did so they can do the same or a similar thing.  In a dialogic read-aloud in our units, the teacher is modeling a particular disposition and/or one of these purposes for reading. When students are reading with partners, the purposes for reading are introduced and supported. Because we believe it is important to read for the purposes and dispositions of a scientist, we are careful in the design and placement of the books in the unit. In the picture of the 5 books you see here, Can You See in the Dark introduces light as a phenomenon and scientific practice of asking questions. Let’s Test is about two children who are designing a way to block some of the sunlight that is shining on their lemonade stand. It models the design cycle that students use when they take on the role of Light and Sound Engineers later in the unit.

    Hope this answers your question. Let me know if you would like some more clarification.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    Researcher
    May 20, 2018 | 04:15 p.m.

    Hi Alison -- this definitely answers my question, and I agree!  I appreciate how explicit your team is about framing the purpose(s) for reading as part of scientific work.  We may be in contact as we continue to think about purposes/placements for readings!

  • Icon for: Margo Murphy

    Margo Murphy

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2018 | 06:45 a.m.

    What are the next steps?  I teach in a district that our elementary schools have really dropped science unless there was a champion teacher to hold the torch.  They are now refocusing on science.  I would love to know if this is more widely available.

  • Icon for: Alison Billman

    Alison Billman

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 04:12 p.m.

     Thanks, Margo.

    Yes, the program is now available nationally. We are discovering that many K-1 teachers are very enthusiastic about the program. This fall we will enter the second year in which the full K-5 curriculum is available and the curriculum is being adopted by large and small school districts across the country. Of course adopting a curriculum does not guarantee that it is implemented--but again, we are finding that many K-1 teachers are excited. This may mean that there are more enthusiastic teachers on the ground in some of these school districts. 

  • Icon for: Comas Haynes

    Comas Haynes

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 19, 2018 | 05:26 p.m.

    Excellent emphasis on starting STEM education early in a very deliberate manner.

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    Nicole Baumann

    Undergraduate Student
    May 21, 2018 | 04:50 p.m.

    Alison, I love the video and I truly stand behind implementing science and literacy curriculum into one. I am currently an Undergraduate studying Integrative STEM and through the past few years, our main focus has been on implementing STEM related concepts into the already laid out classroom curriculum. 

    I have been able to see first hand how well students grow and adapt to this new style of curriculum. And although there are challenges that may come at first, I have been able to see great success especially in the younger grades. Children love to learn and explore and for most children, science is fun and exciting. By tying in reading and literacy with something they already see as "fun", the learning becomes more authentic. I am curious, have you considered Books to Brief or heard of this before? It is very similar in taking a book and having the children read the book and expand off of it through STEM exploration. I have found that this is an easy step to start introducing this into the classroom.

    You talk a lot about tying Science and Reading into one, but have you considered integrating other subjects as well? Science, Reading, and Math seem to be the common subjects to integrate together, but I have seen it be down with Social Studies, Music, etc. Curious to hear your thoughts on this.

    Lastly, I love that you were given the opportunity to work with real life teachers. What would you say has been the greatest difficulty or challenge they faced through this process?

    Thanks!

  • Icon for: Alison Billman

    Alison Billman

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 06:55 p.m.

    Greetings Nicole,

    Thanks for your enthusiastic endorsement! And we agree, when reasons to read and write are authentically motivated, younger children are excited when they develop the language and literacy skills to investigate on their own. I am not familiar with the Books for Brief. I do know that books can be springboards into investigating many aspects of the world--scientific as well as social and mathematical. While we focus on science and literacy, a key practice in the NGSS focuses on the use of mathematics. So, yes, there are activities that require students to learn and apply mathematical constructs while they figure out things about the world. While included in this project, some of the curriculum supports that we have added in the published version provide suggestions for adding arts focused or driven activities.  

    I think the biggest challenge teachers faced was doing their best to learn and deliver the curriculum within a constrained timeframe while also needing to address a full complement of instruction in first grade classrooms. The full curriculum only includes three units--relieving some of the time constraints faced in the research project.

    Thanks for your questions!

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