Read like a Scientist

Genre study is much like exploration in science or social studies. Scientists gather data and organize information, looking for patterns. They make hypotheses and explore further to test them; they come to tentative conclusions that are always open to revision when more data are accumulated. Inquiring into genre with your students is an exciting exploration. “It is a line of inquiry—a road of curriculum, a trail of teaching, an excursion of knowing something about writing. It is some big thing that you and your class are digging into over time” (Nia, 1999).

While surfing the web yesterday I ran across Fountas and Pinnnell’s new book again – Genre Study.  The quote above caught my eye as I previewed chapter one.  It fits perfectly into my thoughts and planning for next year.  I am teaching literacy and science for the year and will have a two hour block each day to craft a reading/writing/ science workshop ( not enough time but I will take it).

I love the dove tail of language between science and literacy – the line of inquiry,  a road of curriculum.  It makes me think about of the importance of integration in our teaching.  Students need to read authentic text as they learn the skills of reader and writers.  They need to write like writers and scientist and historians.  Students need to work through genre’s – reading and writing.   Having student approach this study as a scientist who makes explorations and investigates what makes up each genre just makes so much sense.  To have the teacher and students work together to investigate each type of writing and to explore that writing them selves is what will help students build a frame work for deep understanding.

This last year as we approached testing season I found to many teacher in my building hurriedly lecturing their 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders about each of the genres and making posters with all the criteria for each genre.   It was not working and they were all frustrated -teachers and students.   We don’t learn through listening only.  We learn through exploration, experimentation and listening.

Reading through just the first chapter of Genre Study really helped me see I was/am on the right track –  giving students time to explore, to think critically.  Leaving large spaces of time in our lesson plans for students to inquire into the reading, writing and the science of our world is important.     (also social studies and history – I am just focusing this year on science.  Some one else gets to investigate Social Studies)

Yeah for melding of our content to allow students to learn through inquiry once again!   Thanks Fauntas, Pinnell, Ray and Nia – all authors and researchers who have our students in mind as they share their findings with us!

I am excited to watch this next year unfold as my students and I begin the inquiry into literacy and science together.


About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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1 Response to Read like a Scientist

  1. Dana says:

    Wow – the scheduling at your school sounds fascinating. School should be about interdisciplinary study – life is not separated into subjects. Your job sounds fascinating!

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