FIRST HAND LEARNING E-NEWSLETTER

Vol. 2, No. 2

IN THIS ISSUE:

1. Use SCIENCE to Improve LITERACY SKILLS
2. JOURNAL KEEPING – A Powerful Tool for Language Development
3. REGISTER NOW for NSTA PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTES in Anaheim!

1. WHAT DO YOU NOTICE?

How can we engage students more effectively in learning to think, read, and write? One way is to capture their interest with real phenomena and through direct experiences. Scientifically-based investigations are great starting points for stimulating discussion, for generating questions, and for converting observations into written descriptions. Students, confronted by real objects, have something concrete on which to focus their attention.

See what happens when you place twigs from bare winter branches in front of children. Ask them to draw what they see, to describe it in a number of different ways, using language to clarify its texture, odor, size, color, and more. What questions do they have? Continuing the investigation based on students’ interests leads to new questions, possible experiments, and more and more occasions to record and communicate information.

Engaging objects and provocative questions begin a process of discovery that offers students many opportunities to develop literacy skills. Check out www.firsthandlearning.org/minijournal to download free mini-journals and get more ideas about using science topics to stimulate reading and writing.

2. JOURNAL RESOURCES

A field journal, or science notebook, is an essential tool for working scientists. It’s also indispensable for the teacher looking to track students’ language development. Any blank book will work. However, additional formatting – pages for writing and drawing, prompts for questions, and a table of contents – helps students and teachers use journals more effectively as a tool to foster language development and improve writing skills.

Visit http://www.firsthandlearning.org/catalog/catalog_frameset.html to check out the First Hand Learning, Inc.® FIELD JOURNAL. Download a free journal lesson to get started: http://www.firsthandlearning.org/journal_lesson.pdf

Visit the American Museum of Natural History’s website to get journaling tips and see some examples of real scientists’ journals: http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/youngnaturalistawards/journal.html

A good online resource for linking field journals with literacy can be found by going to the read*write*think website, sponsored by the International Reading Association and NCTE. You can view a lesson sequence that highlights writing in science journals by clicking on http://www.readwritethink.org/lessons/lesson_view.asp?id=846.

3. CONNECTING SCIENCE AND LITERACY AT NSTA

It’s time to register for “SCIENCE INQUIRY AND LITERACY: HOW ARE THEY CONNECTED?”  - the NSTA Professional Development Institute (PDI) that First Hand Learning and Education Development Center will present during the NSTA National Conference in Anaheim, April 5 – 9, 2006.

Read the complete description of the Professional Development Institute offered by FHL and EDC : http://www.firsthandlearning.com/nsta_pdi.html

To learn more about PDI offerings and to register to attend an NSTA Professional Development Institute, click on: http://www.nsta.org/conventionsupport&record
_id=123&Meeting_Code=2006ANA

For more information about the NSTA National Conference in Anaheim, visit http://www.nsta.org/conventiondetail&Meeting_Code=2006ANA

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We hope you found this edition of the FIRSTHAND E-NEWSLETTER useful. Please contact us with any comments, suggestions, or questions you may have by emailing us at: inquiries@firsthandlearning.org.

First Hand Learning is interested in teachers’ accounts of learning and teaching from direct experience. Share your thoughts and stories with us, and we’ll feature them in a future e-letter highlighting real-world inquiry in, and out of, the classroom.

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