The Lawrence Hall of Science
The public science center of the University of California, Berkeley.
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The intersection between science understanding and the ways ideas are communicated has long presented challenges for equitable science teaching and learning. The use of academic vocabulary is typically privileged as evidence of science knowledge. In this paper, we present a study focused on designing three-dimensional assessments for third grade performance expectations that attend to the language registers students are using and the ways they are using them to communicate their science ideas; and intentionally shift the focus toward recognizing students’ language-in-use and the ways it can be scaffolded to support the development of their knowledge-in-use. Language is framed as a structured system of communication that assists participation within the community of scientists and as a set of tools for developing scientific thinking. By framing language as more than vocabulary words, these assessments offer valuable resources for teachers to expand their repertoires for supporting students’ language development overall, and also have implications for the ways we assess and support language development in later grades where technical vocabulary is prioritized.
View the abstract.
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