Schoolchildren in a science classWith a three day weekend upon us, it’s hard not to think about the summer fun ahead and the opportunity to savor some summer reading. Be sure to put your time off to good use and toss a new report that can support your science education practice in your beach bag in addition to a great summer novel or a few fluffy magazines!

For anyone who has read the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), thought about or attempted NGSS implementation, or actually supported teachers in professional development around the NGSS, one of the questions that arises is likely to revolve around how the science standards and literacy fit together.
It can seem daunting to cover it all, even with the individual English Language Arts (ELA) standards listed below each performance expectation in the NGSS (and CPS’ more defined scope of implementation). The National Academy of Science offers a recent report that tackles the alignment of the NGSS and ELA, and it includes ideas that Screen Shot 2014-07-03 at 3.53.35 PMencompass the unique language of science (and the challenges that can present), best practices for weaving literacy and science together across grades to accomplish the integration of the NGSS and ELA (so important, since continuity across grades is one of the central pillars of the NGSS), and strategies for teachers to be more effective in integrating STEM and literacy for effective teaching.

The concepts and practices that overlap between the NGSS and ELA are valuable across disciplines and useful throughout one’s education and career.  The Venn Diagram above highlights these, and they include the construction of viable arguments and critiquing the reasoning of others, valuing evidence, and engaging in argument based on evidence.  Regardless of the careers people pursue, these abilities are critical and serve in a variety of contexts, including being a scientifically literate citizen – which is vital as the problems and issues we encounter as a society increasingly interconnected with science.

Science can present unique challenges to ESL learners because of the complexity of the scientific language.  However, it can also present a great opportunity for all learners, including ESL students, to hone their language skills while learning scientific content.  The NGSS posits that all standards are for all students, so tackling language barriers through scientific concepts really does address two issues simultaneously.

How do you approach the integration of science and literacy in your practice?  Let us know in the comments, and download the NAS report via the link above to access new ideas and strategies that can support your integration of science and ELA standards.