Sunday, April 12, 2015

Reading to Learn in Science - Challenges of Science Texts

Some notes from a MOOC about teaching reading in Science. 

If you have ever taken a MOOC, you know the basic format - the course will have video lectures, links to further reading, and will encourage [or force] participants to use the discussion forum. This MOOC is a little different, and the professor has made short formative comprehension tasks to be answered during the videos.

I like this model, and hope to see it more in flipped learning environments.

== Notes ==

Before reading difficult [nonfiction] texts, elicit students' prior knowledge about the topic by discussing relevant topics students have learned to see if they will be able to make sense of the new ideas in the text.

"Reading to Learn" involves reflective reading skills - knowing when to reread parts of the text for clarity.
  • Visualize figurative and metaphorical language
  • Give students strategies to develop a metacognitive awareness of their reading habits.
  • Reading comprehension can be strengthened by talking and writing about what they read.

Three-Part Model to Support Reading

Pre Reading
Use an activity to activate students' prior knowledge.
improves comprehension among all students.

During Reading
Students use strategies to monitor and improve their own comprehension.
Students should know to reread and reflect.
Student-centered activities during reading improve comprehension.
Good readers naturally monitor their own comprehension.

After Reading
Strategies for organizing and summarizing the information they read.
Summarizing and organizing chunks information.

Look out for ...
  • Nominalizations - when processes are turned into nouns. These often end in -tion (i.e., evaporation) 
  • Polysemy - words with multiple meanings. For example, there are many types of "energy", and the reader needs to infer which meaning by inferring from the text.
  • Multimodality - text and images, diagrams, etc.
  • Academic Language - not science specific, but not a part of everyday language. Teachers need to be aware of words like "whereas, interactions, fundamental, emits, etc." and include these when teaching for clarity.

Three Tiers of Vocabulary
Tier 1—Basic Vocabulary
Tier 2—High Frequency/Multiple Meaning Vocabulary (academic writing)
Tier 3—Low-Frequency, Context-Specific Vocabulary

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