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Science Specific Vocabulary Acquisition

Reading in the Content Areas, Grades 6 -12: Discussion 2
by

Jennifer Sweet

on 6 November 2014

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Transcript of Science Specific Vocabulary Acquisition

According to Fisher and Frey, "the vocabulary demands on students skyrocket during the secondary school years" (2012, p. 38).
I teach seventh grade science and health. Each day I am introducing students to new vocabulary. Yet, I do not want my students to memorize vocabulary.
GENERAL
Words used in everyday language. *
technical
Words that are specific to a field of study. *
Specialized
Words that hold multiple meanings across content areas. *
Word Sorts
Fisher and Frey determine word sorts to be useful teaching strategies in technical science vocabulary acquisition. They state that, "word sorts can provide students with a way to arrange and rearrange words that mimic the critical thinking processes they use in applying known words to comprehending new text" (2012, p.50). I agree with this statement. Notice how Fisher and Frey use the words critical thinking. Students must demonstrate critical thinking skills in order to truly demonstrate the meaning of the word evidence.
I consider the word "evidence" to be a technical word in science. It may seem easy to define. It is easy to memorize the definition of the word evidence. Yet, students should be able to find evidence, collect evidence, and use evidence to support opinions, a hypothesis, or logical statements.
Why Care About Vocabulary Acquisition?
Types of vocabulary
"EVIDENCE"
Science

specific
Vocabulary

That is not the point!
Like any teacher, I want my students to
understand
the vocabulary introduced and discussed in class.
Fisher and Frey state that, "knowing a word involves more than a definition" (2012).
* (Fisher & Frey, 2012)
life science examples:
living
dead
moving
breathing
energy
* (Fisher & Frey, 2012)
examples:
calculate
observe
variables
compare & contrast
evidence
* (Fisher & Frey, 2012).
life science exampleS:
homeostasis
respiration
photosynthesis
chromosome
digestion
What I propose as a teaching strategy for the word evidence is for students to read an article or experimental process. Afterwards, the students will organize words or phrases they suggest to be evidence mentioned in the article. Then, they would sort the words or phrases to be different sources of evidence.

For example, if students are assigned to read an article on the advantage of 3D printed organs over donated organs, students would arrange phrases, or pieces of evidence, in two groups. The groups would be for or against the use of this new technology to replace organ donation. Students would use their critical thinking skills to analyze pieces of evidence and determine which statement they support. Therefore, students will not only be responsible for knowing the definition of the word evidence, but how to use it.
the word
helpful resources:
http://www.readingrockets.org/article/using-technology-support-struggling-students-questions-argumentation-and-use-evidence
This website suggests software programs available for science teachers to integrate in their classrooms. These programs encourage the use of technology and critical thinking skills to "solve" real world problems. These programs require students to analyze and use evidence to defend research.
http://www.plantingscience.org/index.php?module=content&func=view&pid=120
This website encourages the use of Claim, Evidence and Reasoning Charts in the science classroom. This chart could have been used instead of the word sort activity to demonstrate one's ability to analyze evidence.
link #1
link #2
Class Reference:
Fisher, D., & Frey, N. (2012). Improving adolescent literacy: Content area strategies at work (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
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