Vibration… The Water Molecules Balanced… More Like A See-Saw Is It?” Let’s Talk Physics: Promoting Meaningful Discourse Through Disciplinary Literacy Instruction
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In the current Singapore and global education landscape, effective communication is increasingly being emphasized as an important competency skill in the curriculum. Consequently, recent development in the area of disciplinary literacy focuses on how to promote meaningful talk among students and teacher in the science classroom as they jointly construct conceptual knowledge and understanding. Based on sociocultural theory studies, classroom talk is a social communicative tool using the specialized (scientific) language in action to drive specific interaction between participants for meaning making. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of a disciplinary literacy teaching approach on the discursive exchanges occurring in a physics classroom. The interventions were co-designed with the teacher on the topic of waves using various strategies (e.g. scaffold practice, teacher modelling) focusing on specific literacy skills (e.g. speaking, writing); which differed from non-intervention lessons where fewer of these strategies were enacted. Using Mortimer and Scott (2003) discourse analysis framework, it was found that disciplinary literacy teaching strategies used explicitly have (1) influenced the communicative approach of the learning space to draw a balance between the authoritative voice of the teacher and the dialogic interactions to develop scientific knowledge, (2) provided opportunities in the discourse to sharpen the scientific language for meaning-making among the participants, and (3) illuminated how disciplinary literacy instruction that emphasized on different literacy skills (e.g. talking and writing) promoted effective discourse for science education.
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