Science is a subject that feeds on a student's natural curiosity about life here on earth and the possibility of its existence beyond the solar system. For ELLs to experience the same excitement, teachers need to find very creative hands-on activities which will provide access to grade level content without watering down material.
Many say that teaching science is just like teaching a foreign language. In some respects that may be true in that few students in the classroom have background in the content area. However, teaching science as a new "language" along with its course specific vocabulary, and delivering language development are two different animals. One addresses SCIENCE while the other addresses developing English language proficiency in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in science specific content areas. For this population, they must process academically challenging material in a language that is not their own as opposed to English speaking students who only have one hurdle -- the lesson objective -- to master.
So, does not speaking English like a native prevent an ELL from learning in a science class? No. Think of the learning environment as quadrant B in Cummin's Quadrants. Quadrant B is generally called the SDAIE Quadrant (context embedded, but cognitively demanding). With visuals, labs, graphic organizers, lab partner work, small group experiments, video, scaffolding throughout a lesson, providing extensive practice on concepts to be learned BEFORE going home to complete assignments on that topic, multiple checks for understanding in a variety of ways where everyone is held accountable, establishing a safe risk-free learning environment, using technology (laptops, ipads, smart boards, Doceri, document cameras, cell phones, and more) etc., ELLs will not only understand key concepts, but will able to apply that knowledge beyond the classroom. Full engagement equals understanding! USING TECHNOLOGY TO SUPPORT STRUGGLING STUDENTS
Neil Armstrong passed away this week. In his memory, I am adding this site--APOLLO 11. His shoe prints will be up there until the moon is no more. Let your students experience one of humanity's crowning achievements through this video. WE CHOOSE THE MOON!
This site is one whose sole purpose is to inspire kids to think about pursuing science as a career.
GET A JOB--CAREER ZONE
One last push for engaging all students, especially ELLs and other struggling students, in science.
A LAST WORD ON TEACHING SCIENCE TO ALL CHILDREN
ELL TEACHER PROS