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26-12-2016 | Issue 8/2016

Journal of Science Teacher Education 8/2016

Examining the Effectiveness of an Academic Language Planning Organizer as a Tool for Planning Science Academic Language Instruction and Supports

Journal:
Journal of Science Teacher Education > Issue 8/2016
Authors:
Karl G. Jung, Julie C. Brown

Abstract

To engage in the practices of science, students must have a strong command of science academic language. However, content area teachers often make academic language an incidental part of their lesson planning, which leads to missed opportunities to enhance students’ language development. To support pre-service elementary science teachers (PSTs) in making language planning an explicit part of their science lessons, we created the Academic Language Planning Organizer (ALPO). The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness of the ALPO on two levels: first, by examining participants’ interactions with the ALPO as they identified academic language features, objectives and supports; and second, by exploring the ways that participants translated identified language supports to planned science activities. Findings indicated that, when using the ALPO, PSTs identified clear language functions and relevant vocabulary terms, and also frequently developed clear, observable and measurable language objectives. When lesson planning, PSTs were largely successful in translating previously identified language supports to their lesson plans, and often planned additional language supports beyond what was required. We also found, however, that the ALPO did not meet its intended use in supporting PSTs in identifying discourse and syntax demands associated with specific academic language functions, suggesting that revisions to the ALPO could better support PSTs in identifying these academic language demands. Implications for supporting PSTs’ planning for and scaffolding of science academic language use are presented.

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