Literacy and Thinking Tools Using Visual Imagery to Develop Mental Models in Science Learning
College of Education, Grand Valley State University
Department of Arts and Language Education, University of Waikato
Last modified: August 22, 2007
Presentation date: 07/20/2007 3:10 PM in Coast Hotel Gilford Room
The incorporation of literacy and thinking tools in the science classroom enable inquiry-focused science teachers and teacher educators to assist students not only with the construction of scientific knowledge but also the development of the habits of mind necessary to investigate the world scientifically. The use of hands-on activities using imagination along with more traditional classroom resources help educators establish this vital literacy/science connection. Making this connection explicit in the classroom is, in part, prompted by today’s technologies which demand sophisticated thinking and reasoning in addition to reading and writing abilities. In essence, the definition of what it means to be literate has expanded to include pedagogies that are grounded in recent understandings from cognitive psychology and neuroscience. At a general level, the brain processes verbal language and non-verbal language in two separate, but connected systems; reading and writing science is not exclusively verbal since students often use non-verbal representations in the form of visual images to help them learn science. Visual images are non-verbal mental models, which in the context of science, are used to describe and explain concrete objects, processes, phenomena and ideas that are unfamiliar, abstract, or unavailable to direct inspection. This paper will describe specific literacy and thinking tools designed to envoke imagination when learning science processes and content.