So, I may teach mostly science now- but I also look for ways to squeeze in a little language arts. I’m excited to be starting a new series about “The Language of Science.”
Now, a disclaimer- I don’t mean just reading in science class. It’s okay to do that sometimes, and I am as big a fan of integration as just about anyone- but I am strongly against “reading about science” as students’ only exposure to science. (And no, making Oobleck once a year doesn’t count.)
Science still needs to involve DOING science- demonstrations, experimentation, modeling, etc. But you can still include language arts skills.
When we learn vocabulary, I rarely just tell students what a word means. I love to let them try to figure out the meaning themselves, often through context clues or known word parts.
For example- as we learned the word biotic, I wrote it on the board and underlined “bio.” I asked the kids what other words they knew with “bio”- and the kids were amazed that Bioshock (a video game) and Bionicles (a show) actually had something to do with our science vocabulary. After we made a list of other words, we talked about what they meant and looked for a common thread in the meanings. It wasn’t long before they were able to point out that “bio” must mean life or living.
From there, they were able to make the jump to what “biotic” meant. And abiotic? Well, now we’re talking prefixes- as well as strategies for figuring out an unknown word.
Root words and prefixes/ suffixes are also great for talking abut different areas of science- geology, biology, thermodynamics, etc.
Whenever we are learning new vocabulary in science class, we talk about the word parts in part to help us remember meaning. I also love to use vocabulary cards, and sometimes I add visuals to them (like in the graphic above) to help the meaning stick.
Once we know the meanings, I love to add motions and do some Whole Brain Teaching-style mirroring and teaching to really cement the words and meanings in our memory.
And that doesn’t even get into all of the speaking and writing we do in science class! Language is SUCH a big part of what we do- and I can’t wait to share it with you! : )