Water Ecology, Engineering, and Global Citizenship: A Science and Literacy Integrative Unit

Water Ecology, Engineering, and Global Citizenship: A Science and Literacy Integrative Unit

LaShay Jennings, Wendy W. Courtney
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6364-8.ch015
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This chapter describes a science and literacy integrative unit on water ecology and reading about water purification in post-civil war Sudan through the text A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, 2010. The authors describe the process of integration according to the 5E learning cycle: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate. This teaching scenario is also further explicated through connections to The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and overlapping practices between NGSS and The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts. Aspects of the text are used in conjunction with the hands-on science inquiry to dig deeper into the standards.
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How Do I Do It?

Interdisciplinary teaching employs multiple content areas simultaneously, in order to boost achievement in all areas. For instance, through linking separate content areas with a theme or a localized problem in problem-based learning, teachers can link multiple content area standards together in a unit of study around a common thread and address several areas at once.

To this effect, this chapter aims to present an example of science and literacy integration in the area of water ecology and the investigation of water as a global initiative to extend opportunities for underdeveloped countries to access clean water. Within this unit, the authors address the following guiding documents that undergird the work:

  • 1.

    Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

  • 2.

    Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

  • 3.

    The Five E instructional model (5E).

The scenario of science and literacy integration that the chapter illustrates happened in a middle school context in the Southeastern United States, across a four-week period in the 2015-2016 academic year. This unit of study was unique, as it involved the synthesis of the following: 1) Seventh Grade English Language Arts (ELA) CCSS (National Governors Association, Center for Best Practices, & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010); 2) NGSS (Achieve Inc., 2013); 3) the 5 E instructional model format for teaching inquiry-based science (Bybee, 2015), which provided students opportunities to construct their own understandings of scientific concepts as they cycled through the following phases: Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate. Chitman-Booker and Kopp (2013) explained the 5E instructional model is:

A series of phases that teachers follow to help students reach a deep and thorough understanding of science concepts. Each phase serves a specific purpose. When followed sequentially, the model provides students with a cohesive instruction plan, one that leads to the learner’s formulation of a better understanding of scientific and technological knowledge, attitudes, and skills. (p. 21)

This learning cycle is thus used in the authors’ scenario of science and literacy integration to illustrate students’ work with water ecology and global citizenship as well as to provide an organizational feature to the teacher’s planning of the unit, in order to effectively interweave the work of literacy and science practices together.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Interactive Science Notebook: A notebook that is primarily used by a student to collect all the related learning materials from a science unit of study. The notebook is a place to take notes, as well as create graphic organizers, records of experiments, and readings.

5E Learning Model: This model can be used to organize an existing unit of study. It is arranged by engage, explore, explain, elaborate, evaluate.

Community Anchor Chart: A large paper chart that is displayed in the classroom in order for the teacher and the students to record collective notes and findings about a topic. The chart is also used for review of content and can serve as a representation for how knowledge is growing collectively about a topic in the classroom community.

Multi-Modal Literacy: The use of hardcopy and digital forms of media as reading materials.

Problem-Based Learning: Using an existing real-world problem to spur a unit of study that is focused on solving the problem.

Science Literacy Integration: Science and literacy integration is a specific form of content area or disciplinary literacy, where science content becomes the context for utilizing literacies of speaking and listening, reading, and writing.

Global Citizenship: When one assumes responsibility or a moral objective to become aware of real world problems and work internationally to solve them.

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