Science Teacher Preparation in Content-Based Second Language Acquisition

Part of the series ASTE Series in Science Education pp 179-197


Doing and Talking Science: Engaging ELs in the Discourse of the Science and Engineering Practices

  • Rita MacDonaldAffiliated withUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison Email author 
  • , Emily MillerAffiliated withUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison
  • , Sarah LordAffiliated withUniversity of Wisconsin-Madison

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The NGSS “implicitly demand students acquire ever-increasing command of language in order to acquire and perform the knowledge and skills articulated” (Council of Chief State School Officers, Framework for English language proficiency development standards corresponding to the common core state standards and the next generation science standards. CCSSO, Washington, DC, 2012, p. ii). Yet, at a time when the EL population continues to be the most rapidly growing segment of the K-12 student population, instruction of ELs is too often characterized by three persistent problems of practice: the frequent use of IRE patterns, group work focused primarily on procedures and tasks rather than on students’ collaborative reasoning, and language instruction that is viewed primarily as vocabulary instruction. Classroom practices such as these are not likely to foster the rich academic discourse through which students learn to reason deeply and critically, express their reasoning, and challenge and critique that of others, nor are they likely to include ELs in that critical discourse. The need for resources to support effective engagement of ELs in these essential academic discourse practices is critical. This chapter shares the successful findings and materials of an approach that offered science teachers a set of resources to support their facilitation of students’ collaborative and discourse-rich reasoning in science, along with the development of the language needed for these critical functions—all of this in ways fully inclusive of ELs as sense-makers along with their classmates.