Thesis

Middle school science curriculum development for second language learners using the cognitive academic language learning approach

The research conducted in this study was used to develop science curriculum to assist second language learners in developing academic language and scientific concepts. Curriculum was developed as a result of classroom based research by the teacherresearcher. The CALIA model to teaching science in a language minority classroom and discovery science was used as a theoretical framework and teaching tool. Data was collected from a group of sixth grade students in a Southern California middle school whose primary language was Spanish. During the study student work samples were collected, student artifacts photographed and students were formally and informally observed by the teacher-researcher. Analysis of student work and observations of students suggests that developing the use of new academic language and scientific concepts was best achieved through vocabulary development, hands-on projects and the explicit instruction and use of learning strategies. Students were able to demonstrate their natural curiosity of science, were more motivated to participate, understood that they have the power over their own learning, were able to organize and monitor learning activities on their own, learned to value team work, and showed increased self-confidence when given the proper learning environment and strategies.

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