Literary Assessments in a High School Biology Classroom?September 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm | Posted in uncategorized | 5 Comments
Posted by Peter Stenross
Literacy is the backbone to any high school classroom, because without it students will struggle with the quantity and difficulty of the variety of texts they are exposed to. Within the biology classroom, providing students with the opportunity to investigate scientific literacy allows students to read, understand and discuss a variety of scientific or science related texts. According to research “one-third of America’s high school students read or write at grade level” (2006), which is an alarming number of students. This is not a problem that will be solved in the English classroom, but one that all teachers must address within their own classrooms.
The term assessments used in the title does not imply tests and quizzes or summative assessments, but is referring to ongoing formative assessments such as classroom observations, journal entries, literary circles etc…. You may find yourself asking; but it’s a biology classroom, shouldn’t I be assessing my students’ understanding of biology content and not their reading or writing abilities? When assessing students’ ability to read and comprehend science related text with the help of literary strategies learned within the class, the teacher may be assessing the students’ ability to comprehend the text, but this assessment also provides the teacher with information about individual student’s level of understanding. The following link is a short video of a middle school science classroom whose teacher has implemented several literacy strategies including metacognitive logs to promote student literacy.
Peer assessment is an invaluable resource in any classroom, particularly in science classrooms because it allows students the opportunity to evaluate fellow classmates’ work and investigate the other’s way of thinking. This teacher has the students assess each others metacognitive journals which provide her students the opportunity to read what other students thought about a given text.
It has become apparent that literacy plays a major role in a student’s ability to perform academically in high school, but do you believe it is important to assess student’s reading and writing abilities in content area classrooms (keep in mind that not all assessments have to be graded)? How could you effectively implement literacy assessments in your content area?