Literacy Matters Vol 24 Winter 2024

text for science learning. Hearing the vocabulary words within the context of a fictional story creates significant connections to central science vocabulary. I drew attention to words such as steep and incline , which describe the sheep’s dilemma in the story. Pre-service teachers were then taught how to create a vocabulary chart with picture descriptions of each vocabulary word. This fictional story provided scientific ways of thinking and knowing while actively practicing the use of oral and written language to communicate about science (Friedrich et al., 2020). Step Three: Incorporate Phonics andWriting Literacy skills, including reading and writing, are fundamental for students to develop and extend academic knowledge in science (Kim & Kim, 2021). During science, young students can be engaged in writing by making observation lists, writing predictions or conclusions, labeling a picture or diagram, illustrating a science concept, and simply writing about new learning in science. Writing activities can be differentiated between grade levels and writing capabilities to fit the needs of any classroom. Writing to learn in a content area improves students’ comprehension and application of content (Graham et al., 2020). Incorporating various writing activities can lead students to think about scientific content differently, increasing understanding and learning goals and ultimately strengthening, extending, and deepening science knowledge (Graham et al., 2020). Throughout the course, I emphasized implementing multiple opportunities for young students to write about their new science learning. I modeled using a T-chart to identify examples of force and motion in the book Sheep in a Jeep (see Figure 1). Creating the T-Chart together allowed pre-service teachers to engage in literacy practices to support science knowledge. Once examples are identified, young students could work on writing a complete

Next, I modeled how to plan and conduct a simple investigation for pre-service teachers. According to the SCCCR (2021), planning and carrying out investigations that test solutions builds on prior experiences, which supports students’ ability to create explanations and design solutions (p. 12). The simple investigation in this example focused on Force and Motion. Based on the SCCCR (2021), Force and Motion are introduced in kindergarten and will build complexity throughout other grade levels. Push and pull are first introduced to foster physics learning, providing foundational knowledge in comparing different strengths and directions (South Carolina Department of Education, 2021). When testing the ramp, students learn how pushing and pulling on an object can change the speed or direction of its motion. The test and redesign phase also promotes knowledge about how simple tests can be designed to gather evidence to support or refute student ideas. In planning, I demonstrated how to use texts that support student involvement by creating connections to age-appropriate texts and promoting hands-on science instruction. I used Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw as a model for incorporating literacy skills within the science content. This amusing fiction story follows a group of sheep who get their jeep stuck in the mud. Sheep in a Jeep contains rhyming words, -ee- words, predictions, and simple sentences for students to follow. Using Sheep in a Jeep , pre-service teachers were taught how to choose literacy skills to focus on during the science unit. While many quality and engaging books focus on force and motion, books like Sheep in a Jeep allow students to see connections to science in books that are not labeled for science. Learning to talk, write, and read science frequently requires integrating explicit language tasks and instructions into science inquiry (Akerson & Erumit, 2019). Teachers can nurture a love of reading in the early childhood and elementary classroom by utilizing interesting and engaging texts for each age level. Next, I taught pre-service teachers how to dive deep within the science and literacy standards to make strong vocabulary connections that provide rich language experiences for students from all backgrounds. Step Two: Vocabulary Connection Typical science texts use distinctive grammatical structures and specialized language to support vocabulary knowledge (Friedrich et al., 2020). Research has determined that early vocabulary skills strongly predict later reading abilities and educational attainment (Hansen, 2021). Vocabulary knowledge is one of the key elements of reading comprehension skills. Including explicit vocabulary instruction in the early grades provides students from all backgrounds the opportunity to develop enhanced vocabulary knowledge (Christ &Wang, 2011). Within each science unit, teachers can identify 5-7 key vocabulary words for students to learn throughout the unit. Once the key vocabulary words are chosen, teachers can display the words with definitions and pictures to support students of all learning levels. Teachers can help students make connections to the science vocabulary words by facilitating conversations and rich discussions about the chosen content.

Literacy Matters General Articles

sentence or extending the story by creating their own example of force and motion that could be added to the story. By participating in this activity, pre service teachers became familiar with instructional practices that promote

comprehension and writing for

expression, which is needed to engage

in critical thinking (Kim & Kim, 2021). Step Four: STEM Project

Figure 1 T-Chart of Force and Motion in Sheep in a Jeep

Adding science and engineering practices to the early grades formally introduces children to the engineering design process. Young students can explore open-ended problem-solving

After being introduced to Sheep in a Jeep , I taught the pre service teachers how to recognize key vocabulary in a fiction

| 36 | Literacy Matters | Volume 24 • Winter 2024


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