Science, Education, and Science Education

classroom applications
March 31st, 2015 by Luann

A Perspective on STEM in the US and Interesting Implications

Today, I read this article from the Washington Post. The author’s opinions of STEM are interesting. The connection to STEM as I know it is pretty broad. Some claims are backed up with evidence, some simply reinforce his stance on a liberal education for all.

The author made some great points. I read with interest.  The twelfth paragraph really jumped out at me.

“No matter how strong your math and science skills are, you still need to know how to learn, think and even write. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon (and the owner of this newspaper), insists that his senior executives write memos, often as long as six printed pages, and begins senior-management meetings with a period of quiet time, sometimes as long as 30 minutes, while everyone reads the “narratives” to themselves and makes notes on them. In an interview with Fortune’s Adam Lashinsky, Bezos said: “Full sentences are harder to write. They have verbs. The paragraphs have topic sentences. There is no way to write a six-page, narratively structured memo and not have clear thinking.”

Writing clearly is important to many careers. It’s an obvious goal of CCSS. Even those who argue against CCSS will agree that writing clearly is an important skill in today’s world.

Not only must one be able to write a lengthy memo/narrative, one must be able to make notes on the memo/narratives. One must be able to read the memos and narratives written by others, for deep meaning.

Isn’t this kind of like…… close reading?  While the term “close reading” does not to my knowledge appear in the Next Generation Science Standards,  the term “read closely” appears in the Science and Engineering Practices section (see page 2 of this document.)

My administrators are emphasizing literacy this year – reading and writing. We got our feet wet last year, integrating writing into our PBL pilot. I’ve known since my first year teaching that students are challenged by reading science. They are used to reading stories and novels for a different kind of meaning.  Every year since, I’ve given students support in reading and writing science.

My goal is morphing to include still more reading and writing. Any resources you recommend?

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