thinking in science:

supporting and challenging advanced eal learners

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By building on the highly successful REAL Project, led by London Gifted & Talented (2006-2009), this project brought together expertise from the fields of G&T, EAL and science education to explore how teachers could stretch and challenge advanced EAL learners. Particular attention was given to how creative approaches to learning in science could be used to teach formal and subject language and literacy skills explicitly.

You can learn more about the project itself here.

The resources from this project have been divided into CPD Resources for teachers and Classroom Resources.

OVERVIEW

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Why use this approach?

In science with the requirements for clarity of thought, precision of expression and individual thinking the language issue can become a highly significant barrier to engagement with learning. It may effectively block access to thinking and leave the student highly dependent on their teacher to simplify the thinking, to scaffold out the challenge and to provide them with pre-digested chunks of science to be regurgitated without the complications associated with really having to think like a scientist.

Academic literacy is a key skill for all learners. The project developed new ways to enable teachers to support and challenge advanced bilingual learners in Science through a focus on how language and thinking is taught.

Creative and critical thinking approaches are increasingly widely used in Science; with new flexibilities in the curriculum allowing engagement with science in real world contexts. Using these approaches as opportunities to explicitly teach both formal and scientific language can be a significant influence on the likelihood of high achievement.

What is Teaching Language Through Thinking in Science?

Formal English can arguably be regarded as a second language for most children. Our experience shows that those for whom language is an issue will underachieve unless their needs are explicitly addressed.

This project brought together expertise from the fields of science education, gifted education and EAL. It builds on the REAL Project to develop a positive approach, working on the assumption that:

  • all learners are entitle to be stretched and challenged
  • high challenge learning can be made accessible to EAL learners without negating the possibilities it offers
  • classroom teachers can use a range of strategies to teach thinking and language together
  • how we do this can raise the achievement of all learners, not just those who are learning with EAL

The "Teaching Language Through Thinking in Science" Resources

This project and the materials available here, present the issues and provide practical perspectives on how teachers can enrich and extend the learning of all students, whilst paying specific attention to the teaching of scientific and formal language.

The resources from this project have been divided into CPD Resources and Classroom Resources for ease of use. It is recommended that before using the classroom resources teachers should go through the CPD resources section to gain a better understanding of each approach and how best to utilise the resources in the classroom.

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CLASSROOM RESOURCES

1. resources based on ideas from the bright ideas time

These resources take ideas from the Bright Ideas time and are applicable to science teaching from KS1 to KS3. The resources and how to use them are described in the introductory resource, and the original CPD unit from the project on which this is based can be found here.

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Ideas from the Bright Ideas Time [1.54MB]

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Ideas from the Bright Ideas Time [3.84MB]

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2. pmi (plus minus interesting)

PMI involves pupils thinking about firstly the positives, then the negatives and finally any interesting points relating to a particular scenario. It is a de Bono thinking tool.

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More Examples of PMI [92.01kB]

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More Examples of PMI [185.00kB]

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3. odd one out

In this activity, three different objects or materials are given to pupils and they are asked to say which one is the odd one out and why. There is no one correct answer which provides a unique opportunity for pupils to show their depth of thinking and develop language and vocabulary skills. There are also resources produced by the RSC specifically for KS3 Chemistry.

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More Examples of Odd One Out [106.21kB]

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More Examples of Odd One Out [191.50kB]

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Odd One Out Exercises for KS3 Chemistry [34.27kB]

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Odd One Out Exercises for KS3 Chemistry [172.00kB]

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odd one out answers for ks3 chemistry [89.32kB]

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odd one out answers for ks3 chemistry [156.00kB]

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4. the big question

Because science is all about thinking and questioning; asking 'Big Questions' and allowing pupils to ask them; allows the teacher to model being a joint learner and enables pupils to stretch their minds around how we know things in science.

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Big Questions [593.45kB]

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big questions [952.50kB]

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5. practical science with dna as a context

There are three documents relating to the DNA practical as well as a booklet of DNA activities for Years 5-9 produced by Bangor LA.

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introduction and notes for primary settings [150.58kB]

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introduction and notes to primary settings [149.50kB]

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Recipe [1.44MB]

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model outline [2.19MB]

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Booklet of DNA Activities for y5-9 [2.17MB]

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DOWNLOAD ALL “CLASSROOM RESOURCES” FILES [25.61MB]

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CPD RESOURCES

These CPD resources which can be adapted for use at KS1,2 and 3; outline the concepts that underpin the project's aim: to teach Language through thinking in a scientific context. Links to download the resources are provided; as well as links to the original CPD units on which some of this work is based.

The CPD resources give a good overview of the various concepts and methodologies employed by the project to improve science and language teaching for EAL learners. It is recommended that you look through these resources before downloading the Classroom resources.

1. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ACADEMIC LITERACY IN SCIENCE?

These resources take ideas from the Bright Ideas time and are applicable to science teaching from KS1 to KS3. The resources and how to use them are described in the introductory resource, and the original CPD unit from the project on which this is based can be found here.

YOUTUBE

project introduction academic literacy []

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YOUTUBE

project introduction/academic literacy []

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2. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY GIFTEDNESS IN SCIENCE?

Key questions covered in these resources:

  • What does expertise/subject thinking look like in science?
  • What is distinctive about teaching and learning which develops learners’ scientific thinking?
  • What does a good lesson look like for this?

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giftedness in science [174.84kB]

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giftedness in science [491.00kB]

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Teachers wishing to expand their knowledge on the identification of gifted and talented learners in science will find this exercise useful. It uses Renzulli's Three Rings approach to highlight the importance of creativity.

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Criteria for Identification of Gifted and Talented Learners in Science [293.71kB]

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Criteria for Identification of Gifted and Talented Learners in Science [225.00kB]

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3. USING KEY VISUALS

These resources provide a wide-ranging view of how to model and use visual planning tools to support language development, through three kinds of key visual:

  • Explanatory – How do we convert a series of ideas or a process into a visual narrative?
  • Evaluative – How can we use visuals to identify how much the learner understands?
  • Generative – How do visual tools enable the learner to expand their language capability?

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Key Visuals [10.84MB]

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Teachers wishing to look at other ideas might also wish to download another REAL tool ‘10 ways to support and challenge advanced learners, which provides an overview of the wider scope of classroom strategies and a framework to support a conversation with school colleagues.

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10 ways to support and challenge advanced learners [107.74kB]

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10 ways to support and challenge advanced learners [314.50kB]

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4. PRACTICAL IDEAS FOR THINKING

Three different thinking tools are outlined here:

  • What am I?
  • Tell the story of the graph
  • Six degrees of separation

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Practical ideas for thinking [0.98MB]

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practical ideas for thinking [2.08MB]

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5. IDEAS FROM THE 'BRIGHT IDEAS TIME'

Work from previous AstraZeneca funded projects, including the Bright Ideas Time from Challenge in Primary Science was adapted. This resource shares ideas on three of the elements of the Bright Ideas time:

  • Think-Pair-Share
  • PMI (Positive, Minus and Interesting)
  • Odd One Out.

The CPD unit from the original project can be found here.

The classroom resources for this section (KS1,2 and 3)can be found here.

6. PEN PORTRAITS

A Pen Portrait is a tool for teachers to describe and then target particular EAL students who could benefit from particular attention.

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pen portrait [101.38kB]

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pen portrait [179.00kB]

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exemplar pen portrait [107.05kB]

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exemplar pen portrait [180.50kB]

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7. DEVELOPING ACADEMIC LANGUAGE IN SCIENCE

Key questions covered in these resources:

  • What does academic language look like in science?
  • How can we measure and develop academic vocabulary?

These resources introduce the Academic Word List (AWL) and a framework for classifying subject language.

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developing academic language [1.77MB]

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developing academic language [5.18MB]

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awl headwords [89.70kB]

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awl headwords [221.00kB]

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awl headwords for science [89.77kB]

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awl headwords for science [223.50kB]

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Download the Student Handout, Developing your vocabulary size and comprehension of language from the Classroom Resources page.

In addition to the AWL handouts above; a further resource, AWL in Science is available, in which the language which is most relevant to the classroom is highlighted in red. Highlighted words are either:

(1) subject language
(2) command words
(3) words which are used in formal talk and writing

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awl in science [536.65kB]

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awl in science [1.00MB]

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AWL highlighter: This tool can be used to determine how many words in an article come from the AWL list. Text can be copied and pasted into the tool. Clicking submit will then allow you to see the AWL words highlighted in the text. Clicking the link for any of these will launch the Google define function which can be used to explore potential meanings for the word in context.

The AWL Highlighter is available on the REAL project site here.

8. EAL PLANNING TOOLS

Key question covered in the resources:

  • How useful are the models commonly used by the EAL community in supporting planning for the use of thinking skills in science?

This resource explores how advanced learners can be supported in accessing challenge and in using thinking skills without negating the challenge in the learning. Some examples are given using Odd One Out and What am I? as described above.

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Tools and Frameworks [607.51kB]

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Tools and Frameworks [8.60MB]

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Acid rain example to be used with the Mohan knowledge framework [450.00kB]

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Acid rain example to be used with the Mohan knowledge framework [140.47kB]

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9. PRACTICAL SCIENCE WITH DNA AS A CONTEXT

There are three documents relating to the DNA practical which can be found in the Classroom resources section.

10. QUESTIONING

More ideas from the 'Bright Ideas' time - Big Questions

Key questions covered in these resources:

  • How can we use questioning to provide classroom challenge?

This resource provides an overview of how classroom questioning can be developed using ideas from the Bright Ideas Time.

The CPD unit from the original project can be found here.

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Big question [593.45kB]

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Big question [952.50kB]

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More ideas for Big Questions can be found in the Classroom Resources section.

11. SOCRATIC DISCUSSION

These resources briefly introduce the classroom talk strategy, Socratic circles. These involve an inner circle of students in a small group discussion and a larger outer circle who act as observers. The aim is to develop exploratory talk and thinking and to develop the noticing skills of learners to identify what good questioning looks like and how they can develop their own skills.

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socratic discussion guide [172.58kB]

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socratic discussion guide [187.50kB]

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Miscellaneous Questioning Ideas [204.50kB]

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Miscellaneous Questioning Ideas [156.50kB]

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Higher order questioning mat [638.77kB]

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Higher order questioning mat [85.00kB]

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12. HOW DO WE CREATE MORE ACTIVE, INDEPENDENT LEARNERS?

Key questions covered in this resource:

  • What do we mean by independent learning in Science?
  • How can we subvert/reduce the challenge in learning for advanced learners with EAL?
  • What do able but dependent learners look like?
  • How do we ensure that learners are actually required to think?

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Independent Learning [697.64kB]

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Independent learning [1.04MB]

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13. INTEGRATING LANGUAGE AND CONTENT - SCAFFOLDING OPEN-ENDED TASKS

Key questions covered in this resource:

  • How useful are conventional EAL planning tools when considering investigative tasks?
  • How can we support and scaffold learning for advanced learners without removing the challenge from the task?

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Scaffolding tasks [1.31MB]

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14. ACTIVE ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING

Key questions covered in this resource:

  • How can we assess creativity in science?
  • How does assessment interact with the issue of EAL?

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Active Assessment [749.38kB]

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active assessment [841.00kB]

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15. PROMOTING HIGHER ORDER THINKING AND CREATIVITY THROUGH LANGUAGE IN SCIENCE

Key question covered in this resource:

  • How can we promote higher order thinking through language?

A range of different strategies were explored to show how specific thinking tools can be exploited to develop formal and scientific language. Examples for both primary and secondary science contexts are provided with each.

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Playing with language in science [252.68kB]

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playing with language in science [225.00kB]

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Promoting higher order thinking and creativity through language [679.35kB]

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Promoting higher order thinking and creativity through language [1.07MB]

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zip

DOWNLOAD ALL “CPD RESOURCES” FILES [40.08MB]

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