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This is the fourth in a series of articles on Disciplinary Literacy (DL).  This month’s disciplinary focus is science written by Chris Burras, Academic Specialist K-12 Science/STEM in Greenville County Schools.

Science is inquiry, problem solving and critical thinking. It is driven by claim and evidence and rooted in reasoning.  Scientists participate in extensive reading in order to build a solid base of knowledge. They communicate in writing, employing an extensive variety of formats.  And, they participate in scientific conversations. To know how to read, write, and talk about science means that you are enabled as an active participant in establishing and maintaining communities that are healthy, productive, and sustainable (Grant, Fisher & Lapp, 2015). All too often, however, science is “delivered” rather than “experienced”. This issue highlights how the guiding principles outlined in the December issue can support such practices in science classrooms.
Designing Disciplinary Inquiry and Tasks
Inquiry in science means that students participate in “doing” science.  As they engage in inquiry they develop habits that will transfer to other disciplines and other problems.” (Lent, 2016) Consider the following scenario posed to middle school students:  People everywhere need clean water to live. Yet, did you know that billions of people do not have clean water to drink?  The goal of water treatment plants is to protect public health and water quality, while providing and developing the necessary sewer infrastructure for a growing economy.
Your team’s challenge is to create a marketing campaign that educates and encourages community members to consider their actions as they relate to the local waterways and the community. This campaign should be designed to educate the public-- from young children to adults--about the water which cycles through their community.
Inherent in this inquiry-based task is the need for students to understand the chemistry of water, the processes by which waste water is treated, and the role of water in an ecosystem. The task of developing a marketing campaign is authentic.  Participation in this task requires the integration of science, math, marketing and advertising skills, and communications. As students dig deeper into the task, they come to understand the challenge of communicating complex information to the “non-science” public.
Select Appropriate Texts
Scientists use texts to generate new research questions and to provide the background necessary for research design and investigation.  A variety of multimodal texts, including diagrams, charts, graphs, websites, blogs, videos, and informational articles support student investigations as they generate their responses in the form of multimedia presentations, debates, infographics, and brochures. Key to expanding the vision of text in an inquiry-driven science class is the use of the water treatment facility itself and local environs (a creek bed or local stream) as a text to be “read”, investigated, and explained. The combination of discipline-specific texts with technology supports students as they create a marketing campaign that is both appealing to the public and accurate in its science content.
Scaffold Disciplinary Practice
Science learning is apprenticeship and teachers are mentors of apprentices (McConachie & Petrosky, 2010). Rather than reducing the demands of the task, the teacher allows student apprentices to struggle with content and skills. As such, teachers scaffold student success through modeling, differentiating support as students demonstrate competency, and providing timely feedback. Students must be offered multiple opportunities for practice (with peers, teachers and other science mentors). This includes practice in reading, talking, and writing as a scientist. Here's What, So What, Now What is a flexible strategy that supports students’ acquisition of disciplinary literacy. Here is a possible use. 
  • Here’s What – students read scientific texts to identify facts and data
  • So What - students dialogue with peers about interpretations of identified information
  • Now What – students write their predictions, conclusions or next steps
By applying the disciplinary practices suggested in this series of articles, student apprentices develop a solid foundation in the practices of science. Students are thereby equipped to make sense of complex information, they are capable of constructing explanations and arguments based on reasoning, and they are able to design solutions to challenging problems.
Grant, M., Fisher, D. & Lapp, D. (2015). Reading and Writing in Science: Tools to Develop Disciplinary Literacy. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.
Lent, Releah Cossett. (2016). This Is Disciplinary Literacy Reading, Writing, Thinking and Doing…Content Area By Content Area. Thousand Oaks: Corwin.
McConachie, S. & Petrosky, Anthony R. (2010). Content Matters A Disciplinary Literacy Approach to Improving Student Learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Fluor Engineering Challenge
New Updated Standard Support System (S3) Lessons

Math 6th Grade Standard 6.RP.3

Free and Downloadable

Community STEM Events

Visit STEM Linx to learn about more STEM events and opportunities around the state.
Fluor Engineering Challenge
Free Webinar:  Tools to build STEM schools
March 15, 2017: 4-5 pm EST

STEM schools can be engines of academic achievement and innovation. But how do you build them well? And build them to last.

Tune in to hear S²TEM Center staffer, Dorothy Earle, and others panelists discuss.  Each represents a state who's published tools for building great STEM schools.   S²TEM Centers has had two tools certified by STEMx - STEM Innovation Configuration (IC) Maps and The STEM Theory of Action.
Fluor Engineering Challenge
Submit results by March 17, 2017
iMAGINE Upstate STEAM Fest
Saturday, April 1, 2017, 11am - 5pm
Downtown Greenville, SC

Come experience the FREE STEAM festival that transforms the streets of downtown Greenville into a world filled with electric cars, high speed drone races, 3D printers, virtual reality, and robots. Check out our website to find out more about this family-friendly event! To become and exhibitor at the festival, fill out the online registration form by January 31, 2017! Non-profit organizations and k-12 schools can host an exhibit for free!
iMAGINE STEM Festival Midlands
Monday, August 21, 2017, 10 am - 1 pm
Spirit Communications Park, Columbia, SC

Spend the day at the ballpark as part of your Total Eclipse Weekend
S2TEM Centers SC/SCCMS and the Columbia Fireflies are excited to announce the first iMAGINE STEM Festival Midlands.  Come early to enjoy the STEM Festival and stay for the ballgame and eclipse. Tickets for the game are required for entry to the STEM Festival.  As the eclipse nears totality, the game with stop so that fans can enjoy this natural phenomenon. After the skies start to the lighten, the game will resume.  For more information on becoming a sponsor or participating in this event, contact us.
Field trips at Clemson University Life Sciences Outreach Center

The Clemson University Life Sciences Outreach Center offers laboratory field trips in modern genetics and biotechnology to school groups in our labs on the beautiful Clemson campus. Students will use modern technology to generate and analyze results and to learn key concepts. Students will also be introduced to relevant career pathways. View a list of labs and for information on bringing CULSOC labs to your school.

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