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Activity: Entrance Activity. Read and complete the Anticipation Guide provided to you. Math and Science Literacy Skills: Tools for Thinking and Learning. Diane Kinkade Lynne Ramage Eileen Spalla Christine Troup. Schedule. 9-10:30 Anticipation guide Text readability Text structure

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activity entrance activity
Activity: Entrance Activity
  • Read and complete the Anticipation Guide provided to you.
math and science literacy skills tools for thinking and learning

Math and Science Literacy Skills: Tools for Thinking and Learning

Diane Kinkade

Lynne Ramage

Eileen Spalla

Christine Troup

  • 9-10:30
    • Anticipation guide
    • Text readability
    • Text structure
    • Background knowledge
    • Vocabulary
  • 11-12
    • Vocabulary
    • Comprehension
  • 1-2
    • Comprehension
    • Writing
what are we doing today
What are we doing today?
  • Identify and address the unique challenges of reading math and science
  • Build awareness of and learn practical tools that apply to
    • Text structure and features
    • Background knowledge
    • Vocabulary
    • Comprehension strategies
    • Writing strategies
what is reading
What is reading?

"Reading is a constructive process in which the reader interacts with text, using prior knowledge and experience to make connections, generate hypotheses, and make sense of what s/he reads.”

Barton, M.L.,& Heidema, C. (2000).

reading in content areas
Reading in content areas

"Teaching reading in the content areas is not so much about teaching students basic reading skills as it is about teaching students how to use reading as a tool for thinking and learning“

Barton, M. L., & Heidema, C. (2000).


“Problems in reading non-fiction texts are most acute in the content areas of science, social studies, health, and math, in which students are expected to read a non-fiction text and acquire new information from it.”

Gillet and Temple (2000) in Robb.

what is text readabililty
What is text readabililty?

“The level of ease or difficulty with which text material can be understood by a particular reader who is reading that text for a specific purpose.”

“Readability” Dr. Pikulski, 2002,

activity what are some of the factors that affect readability
Activity: What are some of the factors that affect readability?
  • In a group of 4 or 5
  • Skim the text
  • Answer this question: what would make this text challenging for a student in x grade?
  • Make a list
  • Compare your list to what we researched



Abstract concepts

Sentence length


Word length

Density of ideas

science and math texts

Grammatical features

Must proficiently decode words and symbols

Text structure




Access (text) features


Links to prior knowledge

  • Don’t take grade-level texts at face value
  • Teachers should evaluate texts for challenges
  • Teachers need to assess text and to plan instructional activities to support student success
partner discussion
Partner Discussion
  • Talk to a partner and tell him/her one thing you will remember about text readability in math or science.
what is text structure
What is text structure?
  • The way text is organized
    • In a sentence
    • In a paragraph
    • In a section
    • In a chapter
    • throughout the book
what are some common text structures found in math and science texts
What are some common text structures found in math and science texts?
  • Description
  • Sequence / Process
  • Comparison/contrast
  • Cause-effect
  • Problem-solution
  • Generalization/principle
  • Hypothesis/support
why should i care about text structure
Why should I care about text structure?

“Teaching students how to recognize and represent the organizational patterns (text structures) commonly used by authors …can significantly influence students’ learning.”

Barton, 2001, 20.


“[T]eachers should preview their text materials to identify whether the main ideas are clearly written and appear in a consistent location throughout the text.”

Barton, 2001, 17

activity text structure sort
Activity – Text Structure Sort
  • For this activity, work with a partner next to you to analyze text structures, function, signal words, comprehension cues and questions, and visual organizers.
  • Use the small pieces to complete the table.
examples of text access features
Examples of text/access features
  • Headings
  • Bold
  • Italics
  • Objectives/ purposes
  • Summaries
  • Graphs
  • Diagrams
  • Cutaways
  • Graphics
other teacher considerations
Other teacher considerations

“One feature of many mathematics texts is that concepts are introduced but not discussed again for several chapters…concepts are developed and practiced and followed by a period of disuse”

Barton 2001

activity getting to know your textbook
Activity: Getting to know your textbook
  • Look through one chapter and consider the text features:
    • Which are “red lights,” “yellow lights” and “green lights” for students? For teachers?
    • Do students understand the purpose of the features?
  • Discuss with those at your table how these would inform your instruction
  • Share one idea with the whole group
reflection quick write
Reflection: Quick write
  • Write about one important thing you will remember about either text structures or text features
background knowledge

Background Knowledge

There are 10 kinds of people in the world; those that understand binary code, and those who don’t.

background knowledge video
Background knowledge video
summary points from willingham s video
Summary points from Willingham’s video
  • Once students learn decoding, they can decode anything.
  • But they can’t understand anything they read. Comprehension requires prior knowledge.
  • Attempts to boost comprehension through reading strategies alone will fail.

Daniel Willingham, Cognitive Psychologist, University of Virginia

ways to build access and assess background knowledge
Ways to build, access, and assess background knowledge
  • Read alouds, videos, guest speakers, field trips, gallery walk
  • Anticipation guide
  • KWL and variations
  • Wordstorming
  • Title of article is “Plastic Unfantastic”
  • As a small group (table), come up with words you think will be mentioned in this article that start with P, G or R
reflection on building background knowledge
Reflection on building background knowledge
  • On a post-it note, write down one idea you’d like to share about building or activating background knowledge.
  • Post it on the graffiti board before the break.
activity read pair share
Activity :Read-Pair-Share
  • Read what research has to say about vocabulary and vocabulary instruction.
  • Choose three findings that resonate with you
  • With a partner, share which quotes you chose and why

“A high school chemistry text can contain some 3000 new vocabulary terms – far more than are taught in most foreign language classes,”

(Barton, 2001, iii).


Remember this?

Math texts contain more concepts per word per sentence and per paragraph than any other kind of text.”’

(Brennnan and Dunlap, 1985; Culyer, 1988; Thomas, 1988, as cited in Barton, 2000).

level of word knowledge
Level of Word Knowledge
  • “[L]earners can very quickly get a sense of a word’s meaning…But full understanding…occurs only over time and multiple encounters.”

(Beck et al, 2002).

which vocabulary do i teach
Which vocabulary do I teach?

Ideally, selecting critical vocabulary words is a group process

  • Department
  • Grade
  • School
  • Vertical teams
which vocabulary do i teach1
Which vocabulary do I teach?
  • Useful and interesting words
  • Target words for instruction that are
    • Necessary for understanding the text
  • AND
    • Essential to understanding topic
  • not just
three types of math and science words
Three types of math and science words

Content-specific vocabulary

  • Only found in this subject area (i.e. quadratic, coefficient, hypotenuse)

Shared meaning

  • General vocab = math / science vocab
  • (dollars, cents, process, and science add)

Different meanings

  • General vocab does not equal math/science vocab
  • Odd, plane, prime, gravity, radical, difference, product,
a six step process for effective vocabulary instruction
A Six-Step Process for Effective Vocabulary Instruction
  • Step 1: The teacher provides a description, explanation, or example of the new term.
Step 4: Periodically*, engage students in activities that help them add to their knowledge of vocabulary terms
step 5 periodically ask students to discuss the terms with one another
Step 5: Periodically*, ask students to discuss the terms with one another
  • Main goal is for students to help each other identify and clear up misconceptions and confusion
step 6 periodically involve students in meaningful games that allow them to play with the terms
Step 6: Periodically*, involve students in [meaningful] games that allow them to play with the terms
  • Stimulates their interest and enthusiasm about vocabulary as well as provide multiple exposures to terms
sample vocabulary term
Sample vocabulary term

Proper fraction

example of step 4 word wall activity
Example of step 4:Word Wall Activity
  • List-group-label
  • Connect 2
  • Vobackulary
other activities for deepening understanding
Other activitiesfor deepening understanding

Rotate through the four stations to explore activities for deepening word understanding.

  • Poems for 2 voices and Acrostic Poems
  • Frayer model
  • Foldables
  • Cube game

Answer one of these questions:

  • Why is it important to follow through on all six steps?
  • What is a good first step for you to use this six-step strategy to teach vocabulary?
what is comprehension
What is comprehension?

“Reading and activity-oriented sciences emphasize the same intellectual skills and are both concerned with thinking processes.”


reading comprehension strategies
Reading Comprehension Strategies
  • Background Knowledge
  • Visualizing
  • Questioning
  • Predicting/inferring
  • Monitoring for meaning
  • Synthesizing
  • Determining importance
background knowledge1
Background Knowledge
  • Good readers activate and use background knowledge
  • How does what the author say fit in with what I know about myself, this topic, or the world?
  • How does what I know connect to what the author says?
  • Good readers create visual, auditory, and other sensory images as they read
  • Two types of visualizing in math and science:
    • Graphic representations of descriptive texts
    • Spatial representations of objects (planes)
  • Good readers generate questions before, during, and after reading
activity generating questions from data
Activity: Generating questions from data
  • What questions come to you when looking at this data table?
  • Share your questions with the others at your table
a different type of questioning critical literacy
A different type of questioning: Critical Literacy
  • Critical literacy – questioning sources of information

“Anyone can publish anything on the internet, and today’s students are not prepared to critically evaluate the information they find there.”

predicting inferring
  • Good readers use their prior knowledge to make predictions, seek answers, draw conclusions, and create interpretations
  • Ask interpretive questions about the attributes observed: “I wonder why…” “I wonder how…” lead to inferential thinking.
juicy jelly beans
Juicy Jelly Beans

Kathy has 10 juicy jelly beans. Lenny has 4. How many more juicy jelly beans does Kathy have than Lenny?

  • What inferences do students need to make in order to answer this question correctly? How would they know it is a subtraction problem?
  • Good readers take their prior knowledge and combine it with the new knowledge from the text to create new understandings.



Aha, now I figured it out it!



determining importance



determine importance
Determine Importance
  • Good readers know “why [they’re] reading and then make decisions about which information or ideas are most critical to understanding the overall meaning of a piece.”

Zimmerman (2003) 124.

four actions that help readers determine importance
Four actions that help readers determine importance
  • Decide on your purpose for reading
  • Consciously search for new facts
  • Read with specific questions in mind
  • Understand that layout gives valuable clues
monitor for meaning
Monitor for meaning
  • Good readers are aware of when they understand something and when they don’t.
instructional activity to help students become independent critical consumers of information
Instructional activity to help students become independent, critical consumers of information
  • Reciprocal teaching (
  • Students
    • Predict
    • Question
    • Clarify
    • Summarize
good readers
Good readers
  • Good readers use these seven strategies in reading in all content areas in order to learn
  • Teachers can model and explicitly teach these seven strategies
  • Being aware of these strategies, teachers may be able to analyze where students’ comprehension is breaking down and how to get him back on track
walk talk and share
Walk Talk and Share
  • Find a partner, take a lap around the room and discuss ways to help students with reading comprehension in reading and math
writing to learn
Writing to Learn…
  • “Writing to learn [can be] an opportunity for students to recall, clarify, and question what they know about a subject and what they still wonder about with regard to that subject matter.”

Knipper and Duggan (2006)

four actions that help listeners determine importance


Four actions that help listeners determine importance
  • Decide on your purpose
  • Consciously search for new facts
  • Have with specific questions in mind
  • Understand that layout gives valuable clues
note taking
  • Oral representation of determining importance
  • Planning: how will you (the teacher) orally relate to a student the important points?
    • (Written text has structure, bold, headings, pointers, etc.)
    • Model and teach graphic organizers as part of the note-taking practice/process
what are the expectations and challenges for student writing in math and science
What are the expectations and challenges for student writing in math and science?
  • Similar to reading
    • Dense
    • Precise vocabulary
    • Formal tone
    • Text structures
    • Standardized formats (ie lab report, proofs)
  • Proper linguistic representation of logical thought processes
three different types of writing for math and science
Three different types of writingfor math and science
  • Declarative
    • Answers the question what?
  • Procedural
    • Answers the question how?
  • Conditional
    • Answers the questions when? why?
importance of models
Importance of models
  • Teachers need to BE models of the active process of writing
  • Teachers need to PROVIDE models so students can refer to them as they are writing
pre writing activities
Pre-writing activities
  • Use word walls to encourage precise vocabulary
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Use frames for writing (i.e. lab report)
  • Students need to talk before they write!!!
    • Everyone needs to talk – may be with a partner or with whole class
    • In general, students who can’t articulate ideas in spoken language won’t be able to articulate ideas in writing
using frameworks for oral and written responses
Using frameworks for oral and written responses
  • Choose one activity:
    • Use text structures as graphic organizers
    • Open-ended questions
      • ABCDEF strategy
    • Graphic organizer for answering math problems
    • Graphic organizer for discussion web
final reflection
Final Reflection
  • Go back to anticipation guide and fill in the information that you know now.
  • What are three things you are committed to using in your own classroom?
things to think about
Things to think about
  • 2 types of visualizing in math
  • Questioning – tree octopus?
    • Types of questions for students to internalize
    • Chart activity page 35 Hyde Comprehending Math
    • Newsflash, p. 50 Easy Strategies and Lessons that Build Content Area Reading Skills
  • Word problems
  • Fact versus inferrence – create a question to a word problem (formative assessment) – can they solve the problem they’ve created?
    • Inferring – cause- effect
  • Synthesizing – retelling, summarizing, write personal response;
  • hands-on activities
  • Background knowledge: cube game Critical Squares page 5;
  • Recipricol teaching

How to organize partners?

  • Dance card, clock, socks,
background knowledge activity
Background Knowledge Activity
  • Refer to handout in your packet “Background Knowledge”