Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What I'm Reading about Science Literacy

Environmental & Science Education, Literacy
Edward Hessler

The Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English
By No machine-readable author provided.
MartinHagberg~commonswiki assumed
(based on copyright claims). [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons

Faye Flam looks at what is meant by scientific literacy in a recent entry on her blog for Forbes Magazine. It is a great read.

A few years ago I read a comment on Amazon by a high school student taking AP Biology.  He described it as a dictionary course, no a "damned dictionary course". And there is no question many of us think this is what learning science is: the learning of scads and scads and more scads of isolated terms and concepts..

What I like in Ms. Flam's spirited article is its emphasis on evidence and also on science and engineering practices as a way of life while learning science.   It is not about dictionaries and lexicons or practice for Scrabble or crossword puzzles. One can argue with her on what she thinks kids should be learning in 5th grade but kids ought to be having experiences in 5th grade that contribute to learning ideas she uses as examples.

She is spot on in general.

The new(ish) Next Generation Science Standards: Developed by States for States (NGSS) includes learning progressions which are informed by research on teaching and learning as well as judgments about grade appropriateness since the availability of the research is uneven.  Progressions across K-12 are described in A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas which provided the conceptual framework for the K-12 NGSS.

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