Sunday, March 31, 2013

Scaffolding Academic Language in Science for English Learners - Ramirez-Marin & Clark (2013)

Ramirez-Marin, F., & Clark, D. B. (2013). Scaffolding Academic Language in Science for English Learners. In M. B. Arias & C. J. Faltis (Eds.), Academic Language in Second Language Learning (pp. 171–199). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.

This chapter reviews literature in science education related to cultural and linguistic diversity, including English language learners, in the United States. Further, two prevalent frameworks for teacher preparation and development in science education (the instructional congruence framework and the effective science teaching for English language learners framework) are broadly described with the purpose of illustrating the theoretical and pedagogical practices advocated by researchers for content, language, and literacy learning in science education. Based on the literature reviewed, we argue that the systemic functional linguistic (SFL) approach to the study oflanguage (Halliday, 1973, 1980, 1994) could synergistically augment these models for science education.

p. 172: While there is general agreement on the need for high standards and achievement expectations for all students in core curriculum, there is also strong disagreement on how best to bring about high academic achievement for English language learners (ELLs) (Crawford, 2004).

p. 172: Based on what research indicates, Hart and Lee (2003) conclude that there may be a lack of the support and time that teachers need to develop the complex set of beliefs and practices that will enable them to assist ELLs in attaining challenging academic standards while developing English language and literacy (Garda, 1999; McLaughlin, Shepard, & O'Day, 1995).

p. 173: SFL has not been widely considered in the science education literature, but SFL can provide teachers with a clear understanding of what academic language entails and at the same time highlight the importance of providing students with access to the specialized language embedded in the practices through which scientific knowledge is construed and represented. We also argue that SFL as a framework is extremely useful for teachers to identify the potential linguistic demands of school language and literacy. SFL, therefore, offers great potential for augmenting exemplary approaches in science education for supporting teachers of English language learners.

p. 173: Lemke (2001) explains that science, as a cooperative activity, is only possible because people grow up and live within social organizations or institutions (family, school, church, research lab, etc.) that provide meaningmaking tools, such as language, beliefs systems, discourse practices, representational systems, and other specialized practices that constitute the culture of a community (e.g., American scientists).

p. 175: Two prevalent frameworks for teacher preparation to support diverse students studying science are: 1) the instructional congruence framework; and (2) the effective science teaching for English language learners framework (ESTELL)

The Instructional Congruence Framework
p. 175: The instructional congruence (IC) model (Lee & Fradd, 1998, 2001) builds on theoretical views of cultural discontinuity. The IC framework is grounded on the tenet that it is essential to incorporate ELL students' home languages and cultures in the educational process to provide meaningful context for the construction of new understandings. Lee and Fradd (1998, 2001) argue that effective science education incorporates students' prior linguistic and cultural knowledge in relation to science disciplines. Thus, the researchers propose the IC framework as a way to integrate specific scaffolding for language and literacy into standards-based science inquiry and learning.

According to Lee and Fradd (1998, 2001), teachers make academic content and inquiry (e.g., science) accessible, meaningful, and relevant for diverse students (e.g. linguistically diverse students) through instructional congruence. To achieve effective science and literacy instruction within the IC framework, "teachers need to integrate knowledge of (a) the students' language and cultural experiences, (b) science learning, and (c) literacy development" (Lee & l<radd, 2001, p. Ill). Through instructional congruence, teachers make academic content and inquiry (e.g., science) accessible, meaningful, and relevant for diverse students (e.g., linguistically diverse students).

The Effective Science Teaching for English Language Learners (ESTELL) Framework
p. 177: A second prominent framework is the effective science teaching for English language learners (ESTELL) framework (Stoddart, Solis, Tolbert, & Bravo, 2010). ESTELL is an instructional approach that integrates the teaching of scientific inquiry, science discourse, and language and literacy development in a contextualized curriculum that is culturally, socially, and linguistically responsive.

p.179: The common driving principles under which these body of research and development studies is that the relationship between science learning and language and literacy learning is reciprocal and synergistic.

p. 180: The ESTELL framework conceptualizes language in this framework in sociocultural terms as a (symbolic) tool that mediates and structures the ways in which scientists think and communicate with one another. The use of this mediating symbolic tool is realized within particular cultural contexts in which communities of people realize specialized practices (i.e., scientists doing science). In this context, academic language is better characterized through the concept of "discourse" (see Lemke, 1990; Gee, 1996, 2008). Stoddart et al. (2010), for example, cite Cervetti et al.'s (2007) assertion that "science activities are achieved through a social process where the language used for competent participation requires specialized ways of talking, writing, and thinking about the world in scientific ways" (p. 164). Thus, the language used by scientist is better described as discourse.

p. 181: From ESTELL's perspective, teacher talk within instructional conversations is a pedagogical practice through which teachers engage students in scientific discourse and the instructional conversation is the means by which teachers and students relate formal, schooled knowledge to the student's individual, community, and family knowledge.

Summary: General Agreement in Science Education Research on Core Issues for Supporting Diverse Students (p. 182)

Across these science education frameworks and studies, several points of consensus arise in terms of scaffolding ELLs studying science:
1. There is a need to provide language minority students, including ELLs, with pedagogical approaches that promote ELL's achievement in content areas while simultaneously developing literacy and language proficiency in English (e.g., Lee & Fradd, 1998; Rosebery, Warren, & Conant, 1992; Stoddart 1999, 2005; Stoddart et al., 2002; Tharp, 1997; Tharp et. al, 2000).
2. Content-area instruction provides a meaningful context for English language and literatcy development, while the language processes provide the medium for analysis and communication of subject matter knowledge (e.g., Casteel & Isom, 1994; Hart & Lee, 2003; Lee & Fradd, 1996; Stoddart et al., 2002).
3. Hands-on and inquiry-based science instruction can help students develop scientific understanding and engage in inquiry practices while also supporting academic language and literacy development (e.g., Lee, 2002; Lee & Fradd, 1998; Rosebery, Warren & Conant, 1992).
4. Integrating language and literacy research into contextualized science inquiry instruction has a positive effect for ELL students (e.g., Lee, 2005; Stoddart et al., 2010).

Teachers need support to conceptualize academic language as a discourse type. Traditional language professional development or/and teacher training practices do not provide this support. More specifically, academic language is "a socially accepted association among ways of using language, other symbolic expressions, and artifacts of thinking, feeling, believing, valuing, and acting that can be used to identity oneself as a member of a socially meaningful group or social network, or to signal (that one is playing) a socially meaningful role. (Gee, 1996, p. 131)"

(p. 183) While the instructional congruence, ESTELL, and other science frameworks
outlined above provide a solid foundation for supporting diverse
students learning science, science teachers need further support so that
they can scaffold their students into these discipline specific discourse
types and registers.

(p. 185) In light of these challenges, science teachers need further theoretical and instructional support in terms of academic language to augment the supports provided by the instructional congruence, ESTELL, and other science education frameworks. Essentially, the instructional congruence, ESTELL, and other related science education frameworks provide an excellent foundation, but teachers also require explicit supports in terms of academic language.

Research on systemic functional linguistics (Halliday, 1978, 1980; Schleppegrell, 2001, 2004) could provide specific approaches to such language supports that would synergistically augment and enhance the current frameworks in science education, such as the IC and ESTELL frameworks. The systemic functional linguistics (SFL) approach to language analysis would provide significant assistance to content-area teachers and English language learners in identifying linguistic features common to "school language."

p. 186: In her work, Schleppegrell demonstrates how particular linguistic features are used in science texts to display knowledge, organize information, and to convey an authoritative voice, all of which comprises features of scientific discourse.

Schleppegrell: (1) the development of academic registers typically does not occur unscaffolded in students' ordinary language development; (2) approaches to content-based language instruction can be enriched through an understanding that language and content are never separate; (3) approaches to teaching content while developing language and literacy with English learners should emphasize the use of academic registers to help students understand new ways of using language.

p.187: In terms of instructional practices drawing on SFL, important work is already underway. de Oliveira and Dodds (2010), for example, provide specific instructional sequences used to assist ELL students identifY challenges they can encounter, specifically when reading science textbooks. de Oliveira and Dodds demonstrate that a language dissection approach in science can be applied in teaching science to ELLs.

p. 188: Oliveira argues that there is a need to pay explicit attention to language in elementary science methods science, so that both teachers and students develop linguistic awareness of some typical discourse features of science. SFL would provide this foundation to support students throughout their K-12 experience.

p. 188: Learning academic language involves linguistic and social processes that are not separated from particular social practices (Schleppegrell, 2004); rather, linguistic resources are used within those practices to construe and represent new knowledge (Halliday, 1978). SFL can synergistically complement the Instructional Congruence, ESTELL, and other science education frameworks toward these goals.

p.190: In order for teachers to support students in the ways pointed out above, science teacher preparation and development programs need to incorporate theoretical and conceptual views of language consistent with the research that supports instructional frameworks found in the literature for the teaching of science with culturally and linguistically diverse students.

As a result, it is necessary to provide teachers with a clear understanding of what "academic language" entails and how it is intrinsically tied to learning the content of academic disciplines and their specialized practices and language conventions.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Binet and the history of intelligence testing

Cole, M. (1996). Cultural Psychology: A once and future discipline. Harvard University Press. Chapter 2 - pp 52-68

[p52] To begin with, Binet and Simon offered a definition of the quality they sought to test for: "It seems to us that in intelligence there is a fundamental faculty, the alteration or lack of which is of the utmost importance for practical life. This faculty is judgment, otherwise called good sense, practical sense, initiative, the faculty of adapting oneself to circumstances. To judge well, to comprehend well, to reason well, these are the essential activities of intelligence" (Binet and Simon, 1916, p. 43).

[p54] Although Binet and Simon specifically warned against the procedure, their test, and tests like it, began to be used as measures of overall aptitude for solving problems in general, rather than samples of problem-solving ability and knowledge that are important to formal education in particular. They also ignored Binet and Simon's warning about dealing with children from different cultural backgrounds.

[p57] Whatever IQ test performance is not related to, it most certainly is related to schooling.

Hammerness, Darling-Hammond & Bransford - How teachers learn and develop

Hammerness, K., Darling-Hammond, L., & Bransford, J. (2005). How teachers learn and develop. In L. Darling-Hammond & J. Bransford, (Eds.), Preparing teachers for a changing world: What teachers should learn and be able to do, pp. 358 - 389. San Francisco, CA: Wiley & Sons.

Becci Burns' summary

Friday, March 22, 2013

Conceptual Change and Learning to Teach

Excerpt from: Feiman-Nemser, S., & Remillard, J. (1995). Perspectives on Learning to Teach. National Center for Research on Teacher Learning, East Lansing, MI. Retrieved from  [pp22-24]

Conceptual Change and Learning to Teach

We have already described the kinds of beliefs about teaching, learning, subject matter, and diversity that many teacher candidates bring to teacher preparation. While teacher educators often intend to change those beliefs, prospective teachers frequently leave teacher preparation with their beliefs intact. When such beliefs limit the range of ideas and actions that teachers consider, this consequence is problematic.

Feiman-Nemser and Buchmann (1986) report a case of mislearning during teacher preparation which illustrates the problem. The researchers describe how Janice, an elementary education major, fits ideas she encounters in her courses into a framework of beliefs based on what she saw and heard growing up, leaving her with beliefs that work against equal educational opportunities. Asked to describe an article that stood out to her, Janice selected Anyon's (1981) critique of the unequal distribution of school knowledge by social class and school location which she misinterpreted as simply a description of the way things are. She connected this to something she read in math methods on motivation—that poor children are more present-oriented and require immediate reinforcement. Asked whether she had any experiences with children from backgrounds different from her own, Janice talked at length about Mexican migrants who worked on the family farm and whose children were not interested in going to school. Adding a final piece to the picture, she recalled a discussion in her curriculum class about "why teach poetry to lower class, low achievers" which made her think that "maybe certain things should be stressed in certain schools, depending on where they're located" (p. 247).

While current beliefs and conceptions can serve as barriers to change, they also provide frameworks for interpreting and assessing new and potentially conflicting information. That is the paradoxical role of prior beliefs. Like all learners, teachers can only learn by drawing on their own beliefs and prior experiences, but their beliefs may not help them learn new views of teaching and learning advocated by teacher educators (Bird and Anderson, 1994) Recognizing the challenge of transforming prospective teachers' beliefs and committed to promoting new visions of teaching and learning, some teacher educators have turned to conceptual change models for insights about the conditions under which people are more likely to change their minds.

Conceptual change theory (Posner, Strike, Hewson, and Hertzog 1982; Strike and Posner 1985) suggests that changing teachers' beliefs depends on their recognizing discrepancies between their own views and those underlying new visions of teaching and learning. Research on human judgement suggests that change is more likely to occur if alternatives are vivid, concrete, and detailed enough to provide a plausible alternative (Nesbitt and Ross 1980).

From these theoretical perspectives and from the work of teacher educators interested in transforming teacher candidates' beliefs (see, for example, Florio and Lensmire l990; Feiman-Nemser and Featherstone 1992; Bird, Anderson, Sullivan, and Swidler 1993; Wilcox, Schram, Lappan, and Lanier 1992; Holt-Reynolds 1992), several conditions seem necessary to induce conceptual change. First, teachers need an opportunity to consider why new practices and their associated values and beliefs are better than more conventional approaches. Second, they must see examples of these practices, preferably under realistic conditions. Third, it helps if teachers can experience such practices firsthand as learners. If we also want teachers to incorporate these ideas and practices into their own teaching, we need to provide ongoing support and guidance (Kennedy 1991). All these requirements find additional justification in theories of situated cognition.