Framing, Adapting, and Applying: Learning to Contextualize Science Activity in Multilingual Science Classrooms


In this article, we turn our attention to context-based approaches to science instruction. We studied the effects of changes to a set of secondary science teacher education programs, all of which were redesigned with attention to the Secondary Science Teaching with English Language and Literacy Acquisition (SSTELLA) instructional framework, a framework for responsive and contextualized instruction in multilingual science classrooms. Contextualizing science activity is one of the key dimensions of the SSTELLA instructional framework. In this article, we draw on two cases of novice teachers’ classroom practices to reflect on our own learning about how preservice science teachers can be prepared to frame lessons within relevant contexts and elicit and apply students’ funds of knowledge, recognizing these contextualization practices as especially important for language and literacy acquisition and science learning.

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    Following Garcia (2009), we use the term emergent bilingual learners to describe students who are learning a language other than their home language. Garcia argues that the term emergent bilingual learners honors the fact that EBLs are developing bilingual proficiencies, rather than proficiency exclusively in one (dominant) language, such as English.

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    An EPA superfund site is a denomination given by the US EPA to locations that had received contamination requiring long-term responses to be cleaned from pollutants.

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    Bellwork is a classroom routine in which students complete a short activity during the first 5 to 10 min of class.

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    A document camera is a device used to capture and project real-time images of documents.


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The project referenced in this paper was funded by the National Science Foundation DR K-12 grant #1316834. Partial support for elaborating this article came from the CONICYT-Chile through project PAI 82140024.

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Correspondence to Sara Tolbert.

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Tolbert, S., Knox, C. & Salinas, I. Framing, Adapting, and Applying: Learning to Contextualize Science Activity in Multilingual Science Classrooms. Res Sci Educ 49, 1069–1085 (2019).

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  • Contextualized instruction
  • Science teacher education
  • Language and literacy
  • Culturally responsive instruction
  • Emerging bilingual education
  • English learners