ELLISA Science Teaching Practices

English Language and Literacy Integration in Subject Areas (ELLISA) Project
Strategies for Integrating Language and Literacy in Science Instruction

Promote Academic Discourse

  • Model  science discourse patterns such as recounting, hypothesizing, and explaining
  • Ask students to communicate their ideas and thinking about science concepts, especially claims, evidence and reasoning
  • Provide students with feedback on their use of academic language
  • Revoice or restate student contributions using science discourse patterns
  • Ask students questions that are intended to stimulate scientific thinking and reasoning
  • Encourage students to respond directly to each other’s statements and claims
  • Ask students to restate, affirm and/or critique others’ assertions, claims, evidence and/or reasoning.

Support Science Literacy Development

  • Assign tasks that involve literacy skills (e.g., reading, writing, measuring, using instruments and tools, recording observations, making tables and charts, interpreting or drawing diagrams)
  • Explain expectations of literacy tasks and provide clear instruction about how to successfully accomplish the tasks
  • Provide students with feedback on their use of science literacy practices
  • Provide vocabulary instruction on key terms and concepts
  • Use key science terms throughout the lesson
  • Give students opportunities to use key words in writing or talk

Scaffold Language and Content

  • Modify talk (e.g., repetition, wait time, proper enunciation, rate of speech, rephrasing, L1 use) that facilitates student understanding of instruction
  • Pay explicit attention to language issues that might be confusing or difficult (e.g., multiplemeaning words, figurative language, idioms, and grammatical structures)
  • Provide supports such as sentence frames, word walls, glossaries, graphic organizers, outlines, and reading guides
  • Utilize visual representations, physical manipulatives, models and realia
  • Use gestures, multimedia resources,  demonstrations and kinesthetic movements

Contextualize Learning

  • Anticipate and elicit students’ experiences from home, community or other out-of-school related to the science topic being studied
  • Make public students’ prior knowledge and thinking about the science topic
  • Connect science topics to local physical, geographic, or ecological environment or conditions
  • Link science topics to issues and challenges faced locally, statewide or nationally and/or ones that students have personal experience with
  • Engage students in problem and project-based learning tasks and assignments

ELLISA Instructional Practices in Science

1. Promoting Science Talk

Academic Discourse: Teacher uses and brings attention to spoken, written, or other kinds of legitimate claims about science concepts and reasoning, and justifying claims and assertions with supporting evidence. Teacher provides students with opportunities to engage in science discourse, which involves providing evidence, explaining, expressing judgment, and/or proposing methods of inquiry.

Instructional Conversation: Teacher initiates conversations that require students’ science reasoning and dialogue (questioning), and the teacher builds on and connects students’ responses to science activity (follow-up).

2. Literacy in Science

Authentic Science Literacy: Teacher provides students (a) authentic science literacy tasks to support science learning (e.g., measuring, weighing, timing, reading, etc.) and (b) literacy tools for learning (e.g., rulers, scales, timers, texts, etc.).

Science Vocabulary: Teacher appropriately uses science terms and phrases, and provides students with opportunities to use these words.

3. Language Scaffolding and Development

Language Scaffolding: Teacher attends to linguistic structures known to be problematic for English learners, including linguistic blind spots (e.g. figurative language, idioms, homonyms) when appropriate. Teacher is cognizant of language load involved in science, anticipates comprehension breakdowns when eliciting ELL responses (e.g. wait time, question type), and modifies speech accordingly (rephrasing, L1 use, explicitly announcing goals).

Scaffolding Science Content: To provide students with access to science content and comprehensible input, teacher uses SDAIE (Specially Designed Academic Instruction In English) strategies, including paralinguistic cues (e.g., pitch, rate of speech, etc.), multi-sensory experiences, and visual representations.

4. Contextualizing Science Activity

Contextualizing Personal-Home-Community-Experiences: Teacher elicits students’ knowledge and experiences from familiar personal-home-community understandings of science-related concepts, and uses them in classroom science lessons.

Contextualizing Physical Environment and the Ecology: Teacher elicits students’ knowledge and experiences from familiar local environmental understandings of science-related concepts, especially knowledge from direct experience with the physical environment and related simulations, and uses them in classroom science lessons.