The Next Generation of Language Learning in Science: Applications for science teacher educators.

1. State the focus of the workshop and its relevance to the science teacher education.

The Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012) posits, “The most pressing challenge facing U.S. education is to provide all students with a fair opportunity to learn” (p 281). At the very heart of the Framework lies the call for equitable science instruction for ALL students. Yet, the Framework reports that most schools lack the support and resources to teach science to all students on a regular basis. Additionally, even in those classrooms where science is taught on a regular basis, there are challenges for many learners, notably the nation’s most rapidly growing group of students, English Learners (ELs) (National Center for Education Statistics, 2017). “(ELs) comprise a diverse and multitalented pool of learners that is persistently increasing, both in absolute size and as a percentage of the U.S. school population” (NASEM, 2018, ix). The Framework explains that “A classroom rich in discourse is also a classroom that offers particular challenges for students still learning English. On the other side of the coin, engagement in the discourse and practices of science, built around observations and evidence, also offers not only science learning but also a rich language-learning opportunity for such students” (p 286). This is emphasized once again in the NASEM (2018) report on English Learners and STEM Subjects, where the authors state that “English Learners (ELs) develop science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) knowledge and language proficiency when they are engaged in meaningful interaction in the classroom and participate in kinds of activities in which STEM experts and professional regularly engage” (p 55). Long past are the days when language development experts advocate behaviorist-based strategies of pre-teaching vocabulary or pulling ELs out of rich, mainstream classroom learning situations to practice some presumed “language of science” out of context. Yet, the predominant style of instruction in many classrooms continues to be teacher-led and characterized by Inquiry-Response-Evaluation interaction patterns (Greeno, 2015), which provide little opportunity for the rich discourse and engagement with ideas that simultaneously supports the strengthening of both science reasoning and language use (Ellis & Larsen‐Freeman, 2009).

As states’ English language development standards are being revised to correspond to content standards, as required by federal policy (U.S. Department of Education, 2015), educators are better supported in leveraging the significant assets that ELs bring to their science classrooms. These assets include not only multiple languages, but multiple worldviews and a rich diversity of experiences in the natural world. New and forthcoming language development standards (e.g California ELD Standards (2014) and the new WIDA Instructional Framework (in progress)) that embed language development in interactive inquiry-based activities fit well with the changes advocated in science education, and position multilingual learners (MLLs) and ELs as sense-makers and idea-generators along with their more English-experienced peers.
This workshop will present resources built on a new partnership between NSTA and WIDA that seamlessly integrate science reasoning with language use and development to support rigorous inquiry-based science instruction as well as the equitable engagement of MLLs and ELs.

2. Explain who within the ASTE membership would be most interested in your presentation (e.g., methods instructors, educational researchers, curriculum developers, etc.) and why.

This professional development workshop will engage science educators in the next generation of science and language learning as advocated in recent reform documents in science education and new language standards (e.g. California ELD Standards (2014) and the WIDA Instructional Framework (in progress)). We will share new, cross-organizational work on the alignment between inquiry-based science instruction and new language practices of the WIDA Instructional Framework.

Given that science education reform documents and new standards are requiring teachers to teach science differently, which is further compounded by recent and forthcoming changes in language development standards for the most rapidly growing group of students in K-12 schools, science educators must be appraised of the changes in these reform efforts to better train the next generation of science teachers. This session will be applicable to science teacher educators, methods instructors, educational researchers, and curriculum developers.

3. Describe the expertise/experience of the workshop presenters to present in the topic area.

This session will be jointly presented by David Crowther, retiring president of NSTA, Professor of Science Education at the University of Nevada, Reno, and science educational researcher in strategies involving inquiry-based practices to engage ELs. David is also a visiting scholar at the WIDA Consortium in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research in the School of Education, University of Wisconsin- Madison and co-author / editor of Science for English Language Learners from NSTA Press. Rita MacDonald is an established scholar and author in the field of Linguistics and Language Learning and an Associate Researcher at WIDA, in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. WIDA’s language development experts are responsible for the English language development standards and English proficiency assessment across 37 states, all Bureau of Indian Education schools, all Department of Defense schools, and over 400 International Schools across the globe, and have contributed significantly to educator support materials for ELs for over a decade. Together, David and Rita are leading a new cross-organizational program to develop educator resources that integrate the recommendations of the Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012), the STEM for ELs report (NASEM, 2018), and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013).

4. List the learning objectives of the workshop and how you will assess whether participants met those objectives.

The learning objectives for this professional development workshop are to; a) introduce science educators to the new language proficiency research as it connects to science education in the most recent reform documents; b) to participate in a model learning experience where innovative integrated language and science instruction is used to create contextual sense-making opportunities for ELs and provide a rich context for reasoning-focused scientific discourse; and c) have science educators discuss and plan for how these new strategies will be incorporated into science teacher education courses. Workshop leaders will model the use of strategies being introduced and will interact with small groups to formatively assess and support their comprehension and practice. Participants are encouraged to take the support materials and incorporate them into their teaching. Communication between participants and presenters will be on going as these changes are implemented by participants via e-mail. Additionally, a resource Dropbox account has been set up for sharing files.

5. Provide a description of the workshop activities/ instructional strategies that you will be using to meet the objectives.

This session will start with the current research overview from reform documents and will introduce new strategies unfolding from the partnership of WIDA and NSTA. The session will then engage participants with a phenomenon that will allow participants to measure potential and kinetic energy, collect data, and make initial claims about the relationship between potential and kinetic energy. Throughout these activities, workshop leaders will support participants’ use of new instructional strategies that support the equitable elicitation and expression of student ideas, followed by strategies to support and deepen students’ collaborative reasoning and co-construction of science explanations. After the model lesson, participants will have time to discuss and create a plan for implementing these discourse strategies and language practices into their current science education course work.

6. Describe how you will make yourself available/offer support to the participants for continuing their learning and collaboration after they return to their home institutions.

This research is a joint effort being created by the WIDA Consortium and NSTA. All workshop materials along with many current research and reform documents are already available in a Dropbox file for participants to utilize in their planning and teaching. We will also build a discussion forum and resource platform within the NSTA Learning Center for further dialog and interaction amongst participants. Both the WIDA Consortium and NSTA are committed to improving science and language instruction and as part of our respective job responsibilities associated with this project, we are available to participants as a resource for on-going support and collaboration in their home institutions.