Teaching Secondary Science: Constructing Meaning and Developing Understanding

By Keith Ross; Liz Lakin et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9
Learning through
Reading

Chapter overview

In this chapter we look at ways to make reading a more active process for pupils.
Scientific texts are not the same as the narrative of novels, which can be read from
cover to cover as the story unfolds. With our texts, whether online or printed, we
need to get the pupils to pause and reflect on what they are reading – to try to make
some sense of it. We deal here with the transformation of reading from something
which gives information (intervention) into one where learners have time to make
their own sense or meaning as they read (reformulation).


Directed activities related to texts (DARTs)

The aim of active learning techniques is to allow pupils to translate the ideas they receive (by watching, listening or reading) into ideas that they own, ideas that are theirs and that they can use. Often pupils can read texts and answer questions without understanding – recall the discussion we had in Chapter 4 on markobine gando (p. 33 and Box 4.3).

Techniques that give pupils the opportunity to interact with the text they are reading are called DARTs (Davies and Greene 1984; Sutton 1992: Chapters 5 and 6). In essence they all give pupils the chance to think and reflect about what they are reading. The commonest examples are cloze procedures where gaps are left in the text, but more demanding are scrambled texts that have to have their paragraphs re-ordered, diagram labelling (from text), annotations and many more.

Just as we pause in our teaching to ask questions and check understanding, so, with reading, we need to give pupils the chance to make sense of what they read. We can expect mature readers to make their own notes from published or online texts, but even during post-16 studies some teachers do not trust their students to do this, and so provide them with teacher-produced notes. If this happens, when do students make their own sense of it all? Are we asking them to learn these notes by heart to reproduce them in their A-level essay questions, trading it all in for a certificate

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