"The way that we’re trained and the way that we’re educated influences the way that we see anything; the way that we approach anything; the way we see life, approach literacy, approach stories. That’s how we saw one way we could collaborate by looking at science through literature and literature through science."
In their new book, Sharing Books, Talking Science, authors Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz explore scientific concepts through children's literature.
As the authors point out, there are many ways to view the world; sort of like owning a collection of different eye glasses. One day we may choose our sunglasses, and on another, our reading glasses, rose-colored glasses, or X-ray glasses, each for a different purpose. Just as we can metaphorically alter the way we see the world by swapping out our glasses, we can literally change the way we understand the world by developing a scientific lens. In the following video, watch how this mindset shaped Mark’s response to Winter Barn even though he had never read it.
Valerie and her students were intrigued by how Mark interpreted this story through a scientific lens, and during the ensuing discussion, they concluded that they now viewed the book differently. This is not to imply that they had missed anything in their first reading, but rather they had deepened their understanding of this story by adding an additional lens.
"The nature of teaching elementary children is that we teach all subjects. True integrative teaching means that each new lens is not additive, but rather it is synergistic. Each of the crosscutting concepts can be seen in all types of literature, and learning to see them enhances the reading experience itself while simultaneously developing the mindset necessary to think like a scientist. This is why we see literature as an authentic context for helping students see science concepts everywhere."
Valerie Bang-Jensen is Professor of Education at Saint Michael’s College. She earned her A.B. at Smith College and MA, M.Ed., and Ed.D. degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University. Valerie has taught in K-6 classrooms and library programs in public and independent schools in the U.S. and Paris, and was the district elementary writing coordinator in Ithaca, New York. She serves as a consultant for museums, libraries, schools and gardens for children.
Mark Lubkowitz is Professor of Biology at Saint Michael’s College, where he received the Joanne Rathgeb Teaching Award. He earned a B.S. in Biology at Washington and Lee University and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He was a post-doctoral fellow in plant developmental genetics at the University of California, Berkeley. As a scientist, Mark studies the molecular mechanisms of transporters and the various roles they play in plants.