How can we use Reading and Writing with Technology to Increase Comprehension in Science Concepts? Using Discovery Education Science Techbook – That’s How!

Reading and writing throughout the content areas has been a goal and objective within education.  As we seek to understand more about how students develop the necessary skills for acquiring more in-depth knowledge and information about the world around them, our focus must include technology that supports reading and writing in science.  It is important to provide educators with teaching strategies for including digital resources for motivating students in science. (Montelongo and Roberta, 2010). The Discovery Education Science Techbook uses Scientific Explanations, eBooks, video, and interactive activities to challenge students’ comprehension in science through integrating science with technology.

Scientific Explanations (Krajcik and McNeil, (2007) is a great resource to use as a graphic organizer with students to help them explain science concepts.  Students will begin with a question about what they are learning and then they provide a claim, which must be supported by evidence.  This evidence can come from a variety of sources, such as investigations, reading passages, and video. Developing a scientific explanation requires students to analyze and interpret data to construct meaning out of the data. There are three main components to the scientific explanation: the claim, the evidence, and the reasoning. Scientific explanations present a real world way of to communicate thoughts and what was learned. When students develop scientific explanations they are communicating ideas about the natural world in the same way that scientists do. In scientific explanations students develop a deeper understanding of science content. They make student thinking visible to the teacher in terms of their understanding of both process and content.

Engagement for literacy in science can be increased using eBooks. The eBooks allow for familiarization in texts through the read aloud functions. The graphics and texts motivate students around the science topic.  There also highlighting and post it features which allow students to chose key terms for further study along with typing comments about the information being presented.

Videos allow students to visualize concepts.  These provide a deeper understanding as students read and write about the content they have learned.  Many times teachers will turn the sound off and have students narrate the contents of the video, which increases comprehension in the content.

The interactives such as the explorations and the virtual labs are inquiry-based and guide students into higher order thinking skills as they follow the scientific process and conduct their own investigations.  They then are able to write their analysis and conclusion based on evidence they have collected. Teacher can also use the Interactive Glossary to improve student comprehension through reading and writing. Students can write a narrative for the animations from the Interactive Glossary as well as describe the images using the glossary terms in a summary.

Additional ways teacher can use technology to increase science comprehension is through science journals.  Science Journals give students the opportunity to share their understanding and increase their vocabulary.  Brennenman and Louro (2008) found that science journals support “emerging language and literacy skills.” This article, which focused on preschool children concluded that science journals create chances for students to observe and present their understanding and knowledge.Also, a great way to increase student comprehension in science is to develop sentences for students to complete (Montelongo and Roberta, 2010).  Sentence completions can easily be created from the Big Ideas in the 5 Minute Preps.

Although, these are just a few strategies for increasing student comprehension using reading and writing with the use of the Discovery Education Science Techbook, it provides contribution to the discussion.  Developing innovative and creative thinkers begins with providing students the skills necessary to understand the world around them, which means providing teachers the strategies necessary for teaching students to become and remain life long learners.

Brenneman and Louro. (2008). Science journals in the preschool classroom. Early childhood
education. 36 (113-119).

Krajcik, J and McNeill, K. (2007). Assessing middle school students’ content knowledge and
scientific reasoning through written explanations. National Science Teachers Association Conference on Science Assessment. 30.

Montelongo, J. and Herter, R. (2010). Using technology to support expository reading and writing
in science classes. Science Activities. 47 (89-102).

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