Nonfiction Selections to Lead Your Students to Inquiry and Literacy

Inquiring Scientists, Inquiring ReadersAs elementary teachers continue to struggle to find time to teach science to their students in an already crowded schedule, particularly as the emphasis on literacy has actually reduced the amount of time designated for science study, authors Jessica Fries-Gaither and Terry Shiverdecker have combined forces and experiences to write Inquiring Scientists, Inquiring Readers: Using Nonfiction to Promote Science Literacy, Grades 3–5.

Using text sets, or collections of multiple genres of nonfiction, can support inquiry-based instruction by assisting students as they pose questions, design investigations, and confirm and extend the knowledge they’ve learned through direct investigation. The seven nonfiction genres recommended by the authors include reference, explanation, narrative expository, how-to, biography, field guide, journal, and poetry.

Literacy instruction has changed in recent years to place a greater emphasis on nonfiction text with students of all ages. A great deal of reading and writing in everyday life is nonfiction.

One challenge that teachers who try to combine science in with their literacy instruction often encounter is that students end up reading about science rather than engaging in any scientific inquiry themselves. With this book, the authors have deftly paired the appropriate readings and text sets with the inquiry-based investigations for your students to engage in.

Inquiry and Literacy

With this book, imagine the possibilities. To name just a few, your students could read:

  • Gregor Mendel: The Friar Who Grew Peas and then learn the science process skill of experimenting
  • How Tall, How Short, How Far Away and then learn to determine which measuring tools are best for measuring a variety of items
  • Ice Cream: The Full Scoop and then learn a tasty example of a phase change as they make ice cream
  • Ice Hockey and Curling and then play a game to learn the forces and motion of a sliding object
  • The Dance of Life and then learn how the sanderling might be adapted to two very different environments

Throughout the book, the authors replace individual lessons with a learning-cycle format (including hands-on investigations, readings, directed discussion, and problem solving).

Other related resources for combining literacy and science instruction in the elementary grades include NSTA Press® titles:

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