Reflection: Developing a Conceptual Understanding Introduction to Scientific Inquiry: The Eight Essential Science Practices - Section 3: Vocabulary Instruction


In the early 1990s research began to show that students who received Science instruction that focused on rote memorization of vocabulary terms and facts, did not develop the deep conceptual understanding of scientific concepts, or perceive the nature of Science to the degree that would allow them to be successful at the college level.

Research has consistently shown that "front-loading" or pre-teaching vocabulary is critical for student acquisition of scientific concepts.

I know for the success of my students I must do these three things:

1.  Front-load or pre-teach important scientific and high utility words, and teach vocabulary at the earliest possible opportunity so students can hear and use the words as many times as possible.  That being said, there will situations where the vocabulary in Science will need to be taught after an engaging opportunity, in order to give students some kind of experience to attach the new language to.  

2.  Provide hands-on activities where students have the opportunity to practice their use.

3.  Insist that students use "the language of science" in activities and discussions.

The hardest one is #3.  This means that when students use an alternate easier word, such as "stuff" or "that thing" - I have to make them go back and re-word their sentences, using correct terminology.  It means that I have to pay attention to students who are using correct terminology and "make them famous" by calling public attention to them in class - thereby rewarding that behavior.  It means that I must continually look for opportunities to pepper my instructions with "and I am looking for evidence of the language of Science in your spoken and/or written responses."

This year I have placed a sign in my classroom that says "The Language of Science is Spoken Here." just to remind me.

If my students leave my room not being able to speak Science, then they will not be able to do or understand Science.  The reality is, even if they can explain a scientific concept in their own words, if they read it in scientific terms and cannot understand the vocabulary, they will not be successful in contexts other than my classroom - this includes the kind of  high stakes assessments that will keep them out of the Science classes they need to be successful in college.

  Vocabulary - Learning the Language of Science
  Developing a Conceptual Understanding: Vocabulary - Learning the Language of Science
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Introduction to Scientific Inquiry: The Eight Essential Science Practices

Unit 1: What's The Matter Plaid Pete?
Lesson 2 of 22

Objective: SWBAT list and describe the eight essential Science Practices used in scientific inquiry.

Big Idea: What do scientists do, and how do they work? This engaging activity using chant, or rap, provides students with an overview of the eight essential Science Practices specified by the Next Generation Science Standards.

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Science, Science Vocabulary, ELL, GLAD
  65 minutes
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