Navigating the whirlwind: one science teacher's experience utilizing a science fiction novel in the secondary classroom
This study was a narrative inquiry that explored the experience of one science teacher as he utilized a science fiction novel in his secondary physical science classroom. With the recent implementation of the Common Core literacy standards in Alabama, science teachers are now required to address literacy and reading along with teaching science content and pursuing scientific literacy. Since these standards originate from a language arts perspective, science teachers may not be aware of how to best undertake this initiative without the necessary in-depth training in literacy strategies. This story of one Alabama science teacher integrating a science fiction novel in his physical science classroom provided an understanding and affinity of the ideas, practices, decisions, and Discourses (Gee, 2005, 2012) that influenced the situated cognition of this novice “literacy teacher” as he tried out a new tool. This narrative inquiry was guided by the following research questions: 1) what is the experience of a science teacher as he utilizes a science fiction novel in the secondary science classroom, and 2) how does a secondary science teacher meaningfully address scientific literacy through the use of a science fiction novel in a physical science classroom? Participant selection was through purposeful sampling, and data collection consisted of open-ended and story-telling interviews, participant observation, and document review. Data analysis resulted in the re-storying of the participant’s experience as well as insights gained from the story. Major conclusions drawn from this science teacher’s experience were the representation of three differing identities-science teacher, literacy teacher, and coach- through the entirety of the project; the use of a science fiction novel is a viable curricular option for addressing both content literacy and scientific literacy; knowing student learners is essential for strategically teaching a science fiction novel; and support and professional development are required for content teachers as they address content literacy standards. The story of this teacher’s experience and the conclusions gathered will be beneficial to science teachers and all other educators incorporating new approaches or tools while navigating various directives and mandates affecting the classroom in addition to their other professional duties.