Tuesday, April 29, 2014

IRA: How is a Poet Like a Scientist? Maximizing Teachable Moments in Both Reading and Science

IRA New Orleans 2014

One more science + poetry connection-- I'll be presenting at the upcoming conference of the International Reading Association in New Orleans on Mother's Day (May 11 at 11am).  I have a fantastic panel of speakers and we're excited to talk about The Poetry Friday Anthology for Science and the cross-curricular potential of poetry of all kinds. Here's the lowdown. 

How is a Poet Like a Scientist? Maximizing Teachable Moments in Both Reading and Science

Linking reading and science offers opportunities to develop both comprehension skill and content knowledge and poetry is the perfect vehicle for capitalizing on those teachable moments of overlap and connection. Poetry provides cognitive transfer from concept to concept, deepens comprehension by providing vivid imagery and sensory language, and offers an emotional and experiential connection. In this session, participants will engage with poets themselves in poetry exploration activities that are skill-based, cross-curricular, sometimes bilingual, and developmentally appropriate demonstrating how reading intersects with the new Next Generation Science Standards in grades K-5.

Our Fabulous Presenters:
1.  Amy Ludwig VanDerwater
2.  Shirley Duke
3.  Eric Ode
4.  Vida Zuljevic
5.  Janet Wong
6.  Yours truly (Sylvia Vardell)

Program objectives:
1. Participants will be familiarized with the Next Generation Science Standards and how they intersect with developing reading in grades K-5.
2. Participants will be introduced to selected poets, poems, poetry books, and standards-based teaching strategies as well as relevant resources for integrating poetry into science instruction.
3. Participants will engage with poets themselves in examples of poetry exploration activities that are poem-specific, skill-based, cross-curricular, bilingual, and developmentally appropriate for each grade level (K-5), capitalizing on teachable moments for infusing literacy in science instruction and vice versa.

Evidence Base
Support for the multifaceted nature of sharing poetry is found in several reading theories and educational paradigms including Dowhower (1987), Rosenblatt (1978), Samuels (1979), and Schreiber (1980). More recently, Wilfong (2008) indicated that repeated reading of poetry improves fluency and attitudes toward reading. Through repeated immersion in poems, students increase sight word vocabulary and the ability to decode words quickly and accurately. In addition, the exposure to poetry allows students to use appropriate sentence phrasing, read punctuation markers, and read with greater ease. This fluent reading enables students to spend less time on decoding and have greater comprehension of the text (Pikulsi & Chard, 2005). According to Barbara Chatton (2010), poetry can also serve to integrate subject areas like science and reading by offering multiple opportunities for extending instruction.

• Poetry can provide cognitive transfer from concept to concept.
• Poetry deepens comprehension by providing another example of a concept.
• Poetry provides more personal connections.

The more connections we can provide between what children are learning in various areas of study, the deeper their learning will be. If poetry can be that vehicle for connecting books, skills, concepts, and information across the curriculum, we owe it to children to infuse poetry wherever we can.

Educational Significance
As Timothy V. Rasinski reminds us, despite the wonderful potential of poetry to explore language, it is one of the most often neglected components of the reading and language arts curriculum. Turning poetry into a shared experience can give poetry its rightful place in the reading-language arts curriculum providing practice for oral language development as well as a bridge to understanding content. Poetry often involves a high level of abstraction in language and ideas, and requires specific critical thinking skills and deeper comprehension. Infusing poetry across the curriculum can serve to jump-start or introduce a topic, present examples of terminology or concepts, provide closure that is concept-rich, or extend a topic further. Plus, there are many thematic poetry collections devoted to science-related subjects, such as animals, weather, seasons, space, dinosaurs, and geography, to name a few. Sharing science poetry titles in combination with a nonfiction work on the same topic, can model for students how information is presented in both prose or poetry. We can encourage children to think like a poet AND a scientist in carefully observing the world around them using all their senses, maintaining an avid curiosity about how things work, and gathering “big words” and key vocabulary in their reading and their writing.

Methods of Presenting
After laying the groundwork for the new Next Generation Science Standards, participants will hear from the poets themselves, as well as engage in poetry sharing that provide exposure to contemporary poems for children while integrating current principles of reading instruction, literacy building, cross-curricular connections, and science curriculum standards. This participatory session will incorporate print and digital media (including e-books) as well as audience engagement in strategies as they are demonstrated. Audience members will receive comprehensive bibliographies of books and recommended strategies. 

Sunday, May 11
11:00am - 1:00pm

There will be snacks, giveaways and door prize books! Come join us if you're attending the conference!


Janet Wong said...

Yes, SNACKS! My goal is to have people see the names "Vardell and Wong" and think: SNACKS. Share these snacks with your convention friends and you are guaranteed to be POPular!

arthur stewart said...

Now I want to know how the May presentation was received! I strongly support the idea of blending science and poetry for use in science education (cf http://authorsguildoftn.org/arthur-stewart/) and I'm looking for any and all input on how to move the idea effectively into STEM education, K12 in particular! Tell us how it went, please!

art stewart