New Teachers

Using Nonfiction Texts in Secondary Science

Hello all, I am a pre-service Chemistry/Physics/General Science teacher, student teaching in Spring of 2018, and I'm exploring the use of nonfiction texts such as scholarly articles or research papers in secondary science. I have been searching long and hard for strategies on tackling this, but I have hit a dead end even trying to find research or strategies on using nonfiction texts in secondary science at all! Do high school science teachers just avoid using nonfiction with their students, other than textbooks?  My ultimate goal is to be equipped to prepare students for using the more challenging types of science nonfiction. I want my students to be able to have some confidence for later in their school careers when they are asked to do literature research or use scholarly articles to advance their understanding of a topic (I found that these were skills I lacked when I entered college, but I was expected to have them!). I also would love to be able to give them a general understanding of the way upper-level science functions, in terms of research and publishing. Is that something that is ever done in a high school setting? If so, how can I integrate it into my already demanding curriculum?

Gillian Evanoff
Gillian Evanoff
570 Activity Points

Hi Gillian--

You have an interesting idea, to expose students to scientific writing. Very few of our students would have access to traditional journals, and the articles are often not written in reader-friendly language. So perhaps starting with high-interest articles could work.

I like the Science News for Students site. The articles reflect current topics and research, and they include a readability score and a glossary to help students. Another favorite is Natural Inquirer. The articles are written by scientists who conduct various types of research. These aren’t just summaries or digests–the articles describe the methodology and discuss the results, just like an article in a professional science journal. The difference is that these are written in student-friendly language and include resources for the classroom. This could be a place to start with your project.

It is hard to find time for activities like these, but I often used the time before a holiday break or in between units.

Mary B.

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
7915 Activity Points

Mary, Thank you so much for those resources and advice. Those websites and their resources are really great and I can definitely see myself incorporating those. At the recent conference in Milwaukee, I did pick up a book about using hot-topic case studies to help students get familiar with not only applying scientific concepts to research but also as a way to expose kids to primary sources, so the idea of using high-interest articles is one that I think will be engaging and constructive as well. Thanks again! Gillian E.

Gillian Evanoff
Gillian Evanoff
570 Activity Points

Gillian-- Could you share the name of the book? I think that others might be interested, too! Glad you got to attend the conference- a great professional development experience! Mary B

Mary Bigelow
Mary Bigelow
7915 Activity Points

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