Reading and Science

by Talisha Frederick

During the Teaching Science in The Elementary School method as part of the elementary education program at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln I was given a great opportunity to spread my wings as an educator using a science mind set. If I had to pick my least favorite subjects in school they would be reading and science. The funny thing is the lesson I have grown most from is the literature analysis assignment that was assigned mid way through the semester.

A few weeks into the semester Kathy Phillips, one of the children literature method instructors, joined our class in efforts to promote science through the reading pourquoi tales. Through an interactive presentation of a pourquoi reading and the use of a puppet started to trigger my thoughts. Kathy asked the class to write down some notes about where we saw science ideas we could build on from the reading. The discussion about science using the book became very natural and it did not take long to come up with a full list of science lessons.

Working independently we were assigned to adventure off into a library and focus on finding 5 pourquoi tales or folklore books. While at the library I became very frustrated that the staff did not have any ideas on pourquoi tales. I found the task becoming tremendously more difficult than I had anticipated. However, with the help of some searching on Google I was able to come up with books. As a class in small groups we discussed our discoveries from the library. Many of my classmates agree finding the books was a bit difficult independently. The assignment only kept growing; we were branching out on our own as educator to build a set of books from one folklore book. We were sent back to the library to find 5 more books.

During my second visit to the library I had to find narrative fiction and biography picture books. I started to enjoy looking for books. I was familiar with this genre and I knew exactly where to start searching. I had to find a focus point in the folklore book that could be taught in a science classroom. I have always had an interest in space, stars, and the moon. It turns out the folklore I had selected was The Son of the Sun and the Daughter of the Moon: A Saami Folktale by Holly Young Huth and went forth to focus on the Moon.

Finally last visit to the library; I was fully engaged in completing my set of books with informational books. I found myself sitting at the library for a couple hours on this visit making sure I had the perfect set of books. As usual this visit was followed by a class discussion on making sure the information was appropriate for students and tied well with the other books previously selected. What came next in as part of bring the whole book set together was not what I expected. Everyone was assigned to selected at least 4 books (1 folklore, 1 narrative, 1 biography, 1 informational) from their visits to the library and analyze to books and create a set of 4 lessons together to make sense as a progression and keeping with a Big Idea.

Even though, this assignment was more than I ever imagined it was going to be, I was caught up in it and focused my time on making my lessons engaging. Krista Adams asked if I wanted to volunteer at the Big Ideas Showcase night on April 15, 2014, using some hands on activities that I had created using my literature set of books. I felt very unsure and had little confidence in myself to contribute as a volunteer using my own activates. As a way of going and envisioning myself as a science educator I agreed to volunteer.

I used two activities from the literature analysis that I developed. The first activity involved children understanding the difference between our weight on earth and the moon. I used two clear containers, in one I place 6 chalk eggs and in the other I place 1 chalk egg. The children could hold both contains and feel the difference in the weight. The second activity involved students making a moon seen with making craters using different size balls.

Without the opportunity to see my text set that I created in action, I am not sure it would have meant as much to me as it did. All my dreadful feelings towards developing the text set vanished. I felt confident in my work and able to discuss the activities with the support of my literature books I had selected to aid the learning. The literature analysis assignment helped me grow to feel comfortable with reading and science.


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