Information for Families
Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading units engage students in both science and literacy activities, drawing on the skills and strategies students need in both areas.
Students learn standards-based science topics. They build their understanding in the same way scientists do—by conducting hands-on investigations, reading about the ideas and work of other scientists, and by writing and discussing to share their ideas.
Students gain skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Literacy learning within the context of science builds on curiosity and the joy of discovery, increasing student motivation and engagement.
Do It, Talk It, Read It, Write It
Students experience each of the key science concepts in a Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading unit through doing, talking, reading, and writing. This gives them multiple opportunities to deepen their understanding, helps ensure that all types of learners succeed, and reflects what scientists really do.
Do It. Students discover important science ideas through engaging hands-on activities. Depending on the unit, they might examine many types of sand with a magnifying lens, build a model pond with living plants and animals, or test which materials transmit light from a flashlight. As they investigate, they not only learn science concepts, they also learn about what scientists do, and learn science inquiry skills, such as making predictions and asking questions. Many of these inquiry skills are also skills used by skilled readers.
Talk It. Every unit has many chances for student-to-student discussions. For example, students might explain which species of birds are most closely related, discuss the important ideas they learned from a magnet activity, or discuss the difference between orbiting and rotating. Repeated discussion routines throughout Seeds/Roots units help students learn to have productive, respectful conversations. These discussions help them make sense of what they are learning, and also helps develop vocabulary.
Read It. Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading books are specifically written to support each unit’s science content and literacy learning goals. Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading received Learning Magazine’s Teachers’ Choice Award for excellent children’s books. Depending on the unit, students might use a reference book about types of wet weather, read about the work of a food scientist, or about how living things get and use energy. As students read, they learn important science vocabulary, and are taught strategies for making sense of science text—for example, posing questions and summarizing. Many of these reading skills are also important in inquiry science.
Write It. Every unit provides many opportunities for students to write to reflect on what they’ve learned, and teaches students to write in a specific science genre. Students might learn to write a scientific procedure for a chemical experiment, practice descriptive writing about the esophagus, or write a scientific explanation about erosion. Students learn to use scientific vocabulary and language to communicate their ideas.
Each unit includes two or four optional activities for students to do at home. For example, they might investigate which materials in the house are attracted to magnets, observe organisms in the yard or near the home, or give you a quiz about the water cycle.
Research, Development, and Evaluation
Research to measure the effectiveness of Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading units has found that students who learn science and literacy in an integrated way make significantly greater gains in both science and literacy learning. The units are developed and evaluated under a grant from the National Science Foundation. Each unit is developed by experts in science education and literacy development, with input from scientists and researchers in the relevant field. Each unit meets important national and state science and literacy standards. All are field tested in classrooms around the country, with feedback from teachers and students incorporated into final versions.
Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading units are designed with diverse learners in mind. For example, during each class session, the curriculum suggests specific ways to meet the needs of students who may require additional challenge or support around a particular concept or skill. One of the strengths and emphases of Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading units is providing consistent strategies to ensure the full participation of English language learners in all activities.
English Language Learners
Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading activities are specifically designed to be accessible to English language learners. In addition, each session includes at least one optional accommodation teachers can use to provide further support to English language learners. Research results show that Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading helps English language learners make gains in science content, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.
The Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading team has conducted an extensive review of research on effective instruction for English language learners, resulting in four principles for making science instruction accessible.
Provide additional scaffolds for language
Make connections to students’ linguistic resources
Provide additional opportunities for practice
Support the development of strategic behaviors
Hands-on science and literacy activities
Hands-on science and literacy activities in the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading program are accessible to English language learners because the lessons include repeated exposure to vocabulary and concepts, opportunities for student-to-student talk and language practice, explicit connections between science language and everyday language, summarizing of key ideas, opportunities for sense-making and reflection, visual references and graphic organizers, and other strategies that help make curriculum work for all types of students.
Optional accommodations for English language learners include opportunities for additional practice, vocabulary scaffolds, ways to support writing, tips for adjusting teacher speech, suggestions for helping engage students fully in group work, ways for students to make use of their native languages, and more.