Picturing Science

Picturing Science is an instructional approach that enables teachers to integrate their science instruction with art, language structure, technology, and writing. Picturing Science uses strategies that work particularly well for ESL, such as explicit vocabulary teaching and offering students the opportunity to use the new vocabulary in both their speaking and writing. Teachers utilizing the Picturing Science approach start with a science unit and the specific benchmarks , often emphasizing issues of the local environment and culture.

Focusing on a central theme or essential question (e.g., How does a living organism use water? or How is conservation important to our indigenous plants?), students work in groups to take photographs, label and draw the environment around them . They can use digital, or disposable cameras, create observational drawings of the objects they are studying.

After observing and documenting, their images are used to label parts, and to develop concepts and words from their images. This focus on making vocabulary concrete through looking at pictures and creating images is known to be highly successful with ESL. The student is asked to write both scientifically and creatively about their images. There are several ways to develop student writing including building vocabulary through labeling drawings, brainstorming descriptive words, phrases, using directional words and analogies describing their image. The final result is a showcase of student images and words that tie into the science units studied in the classroom.

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