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ETAP research: LISELL-B project

  |   Kristen B. Morales   |   Permalink

The Language-rich Inquiry Science with English Language Learners through Biotechnology (LISELL-B) project uses funding from the National Science Foundation to explore how Latino/a students, families, their teachers, and a research team can work together to question, challenge, and take ownership of the notion of college and career readiness in the context of the new Latino diaspora in the Southeast.

Working within and beyond classroom contexts, the LISELL-B project challenges the normative goals of schooling using a multidirectional, funds-of-knowledge approach to support youth doing science and considering STEM careers on their own terms.

One goal of the LISELL-B project is to build teacher and school capacity for making science instruction more linguistically inclusive and personally relevant, through leveraging and expanding the linguistic repertoires of emergent bilingual learners.

The arrival of the Next Generation Science Standards and corresponding changes in assessments provide students and teachers with opportunities for re-conceptualizing scientific meaning making. Such meaning making is by no means a given, however, and the language of science must be an explicit topic of study if all learners are to use it purposefully in practice. To this end, the LISELL-B project explores the intersection of home language resilience and the use of critical science communication practices to scaffold rich scientific meaning making through hands-on science investigations.** **

We identified and built a pedagogical model around six critical science communication practices that foster speaking about, writing about, and visually representing the natural world in ways that develop scientific problem-solving and discourse. These practices are:

(a) coordinating hypothesis, observation and evidence

(b) explaining cause and effect relationships

(c) controlling variables to design a fair test

(d) developing models to construct explanations and test designs

(e) applying general academic vocabulary in context; and (f) owning the language of science.

We have found that applying these practices not only support academic success in science but also provide a framework for making and communicating evidence-based decisions in daily life.

We support the development of our pedagogical model though our five-part LISELL-B professional learning framework. The five contexts of this framework are:

  • A summer teacher professional learning institute
  • A summer student biotechnology academy
  • A series of family-oriented, bilingual Saturday workshops called Steps to College through Science
  • A series of Saturday workshops for teachers to explore students' writing
  • "Grand rounds" classroom observations in participating teachers' classrooms

In each context, we intentionally structure experiences to facilitate scientific meaning making through the language of science while positioning participants such as teachers, parents, middle and high school students, college students, and researchers in different ways for specific purposes.

The LISELL-B project, with 12 graduate students, a project coordinator, and four College of Education faculty members, is now completing the second of four years of funding. The project works in 10 schools in Clarke and Hall Counties (five middle schools and the five high schools fed by those middle schools) with about 50 science and ESOL teachers and 4,000 students per year in those teachers' classes. For further information about the project, please contact Corey Buxton or Martha Allexsaht-Snider.

© University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602