2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 13-10
Presentation Time: 10:45 AM


DIPRINZIO, Tovah, Bronx: District 10 (ATR), NYC Department of Education, 65 Court St, Brooklyn, NY 11201, poetryfn@gmail.com

Earth science is a notoriously vocabulary rich, jargon heavy subject to teach. As pedagogues of the earth and space sciences, we must search for the best way to explain the essential topics of our discipline. As an educator in an urban setting, I fight the combined combatants of student ambivalence and a lack of language comprehension. Multiple studies sighted in my research state that science is a language in and of itself. This is not a new concept. The goal of this scholarly study is to determine the best practices, the best classroom methods to unlocking the language of science for my students.

We must employ the dynamics of the language arts classroom to successfully teach earth science to those students who have been labeled “English Language Learners.” Through reviewing previous studies, examining currently implemented techniques, and my own trial and error in the classroom, I’ve come up with several key concepts that must be examined. First, we must use “culturally relevant” pedagogical techniques and examples to give our students an “in,” with regards to the content of our lessons. Secondly, text rich environments will aid in the absorption of the language of earth science, as well as giving students a means to improve their English skills in general. Thirdly, we must show students how the core vocabulary of earth science is not so different from their own language. We must look at the linguistics of science jargon and find ways to help students break down larger, more complicated, words and concepts in order to better understand the processes they study. Lastly, and probably most importantly of all, we must cultivate a love of earth science, or at the very least provide examples that spark interest in the subject matter our students are studying.

Ultimately, the purpose of this study is to produce better, more culturally aware pedagogues. We all come into the classroom with different ideas about the language of earth science. We chose this field because we love earth science in some shape or form, but not every student, maybe not even every third student, we teach will feel as passionate about the subject as we do. It is our job as scientists and as educators to lower the frustration level of our students in order to allow them access to the content. After all, the content is why we are all here in the first place.