Aligning Teaching to Learning: A 3-Year Study Examining the Embedding of Language and Argumentation into Elementary Science Classrooms

  • Brian Hand
  • Lori A. Norton-MeierEmail author
  • Murat Gunel
  • Recai Akkus


How can classrooms become communities of inquiry that connect intellectually challenging science content with language-based activities (opportunities to talk, listen, read, and write) especially in settings with diverse populations? This question guided a 3-year mixed-methods research study using the Science Writing Heuristic (SWH) approach in cooperation with 2 universities, area education agencies, 6 school districts, 32 elementary teachers, and over 700 students each year. The participating teachers engaged in a yearly summer institute, planned units, implemented this curriculum in the classroom, and contributed to ongoing data collection and analysis. Findings demonstrate that critical embedded language opportunities contribute to an increase in student Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS) scores in science and language based on level of implementation particularly for elementary students who receive free and reduced lunch (an indicator of living at the poverty level).


Argumentation Argument-based inquiry Elementary school science Literacy practices in science Science learning Science writing heuristic Teaching practices in science learning 



This project was funded through a Math-Science Partnership grant and the National Science Foundation (ESI - 0537035). The opinions and interpretations herein are solely that of the authors.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brian Hand
    • 1
  • Lori A. Norton-Meier
    • 2
    Email author
  • Murat Gunel
    • 3
  • Recai Akkus
    • 4
  1. 1.The University of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.University of LouisvilleLouisvilleUSA
  3. 3.Faculty of Education, Department of Elementary Education, Chair Primary Education Program Ziya Gokalp CaddesiTED UniversityAnkaraTurkey
  4. 4.College of Education, Department of Mathematics EducationAbant Izzet Baysal UniversityBoluTurkey

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