I'm incredibly excited--and humbled--to be facilitating a session at the 2012 Urban Sites Network Conference in Tulsa this weekend. It is my hope to interrogate the connections between science, social justice, and writing for change.
I must admit that I'm somewhat apprehensive about facilitating the session. While I've done quite a bit of thinking about the issues involved with linking social justice and science, I've yet to establish a clear vision of how the linking of science and social justice should occur in my own classroom. For two years now, I've co-facilitated a session as part of a graduate-level course where we've worked with social justice lesson planning with pre-service science teachers. Those sessions have raised more questions for me and have forced me to reconsider some of my nascent ideas.
I will arrive at the conference with more questions than answers. I hope that my colleagues are comfortable with a conversation rather than a specific blueprint for marrying science and social justice. Despite my apprehension (or because of it), I am excited to be a part of the conversations in Tulsa this coming weekend.
Science as a discipline provides opportunities for students to explore issues that directly affect their communities—and to investigate solutions to global and local challenges. Too often, however, education in science lacks a sense of place and a commitment to social justice. Might education in science require as much attention to ethics and history as it does to mathematics and memorization? Asking questions, making observations, collecting data, analyzing results, and communicating findings can provide authentic opportunities for students to strengthen traditional and twenty-first-century literacies, engage students in learning that is relevant and related to their lived experiences, provide spaces for cross-discipline collaboration in schools, and introduce students to the possibilities of political and social change. The purpose of this seminar is to address how science in the classroom—and in the community classroom—provides opportunities for students to write to learn, collaborate with peers, and develop a sense of agency. The session will include as many questions as answers. Educators in all grade levels and in all disciplines are invited to join the conversation.
Is there a place for social justice in the science classroom?
How might linking science with social justice provide spaces for student to engage in authentic and meaningful science learning?
- Explore rationales for using social justice as a lens through which to learn science and to write
- Consider continua related to engaging in social justice learning in a classroom and associated challenges/implications
- Examine projects and ideas that involve learning in science, writing to learn, and a commitment to social justice
- Articulate a set of beliefs about the possibilities for using science and social justice as catalysts for learning and writing
1. Responding to a text
2. Beginning with introductions, questions, and context
3. Exploring examples
4. Considering continua of engagement and connections
5. Generating lesson, unit, and course ideas
6. Articulating a position from which to move forward