To help make your slideshows more engaging and visually striking, professional designer Damon NofarA providesA insights into using the art of clean, minimalistic design. Nofar's slideshow, "8 Tips for an Awesome PowerPoint Presentation," is published here with his permission. Like many subject areas, it is impossible to teach students everything there is to know about a discipline like science because of the wide array of related fields and sub-fields. Incorporating science literacy can be challenging for teachers because they need to make sure students go beyond just memorizing facts. Lorri MacDonald, has been a classroom teacher, an administrator, and now an online teacher with the Michigan Virtual School (MVS). In her online courses Lorri guides students through a five-step process to increase studentsa€™ science literacy: (1) gather information, (2) create a visual organizer, (3) compose a summary, (4) develop a concept map, and (5) conduct a critical analysis. Lorri provides specific written directions and also an audio-based a€?mini lecturea€? on different ways to represent information in a visual format. Next, Lorri has the students develop a concept map with definitions for the vocabulary to assist with increasing student understanding of the necessary terms. If students use the definition from the text or Internet verbatim (as opposed to developing their own), she provides feedback such as, a€?Ia€™m looking for you to construct your own meaning,a€? or a€?There is no sense in redoing someone elsea€™s work, but next time you should develop your own meaning.a€? This type of feedback tells students to extend their own definitions in a comfortable and encouraging environment, and also lets them know they need to work a little bit harder on the next assignment.
Finally, Lorri directs the students to combine the information, visual organizers, summaries, concept maps, and instructor feedback from each of these steps to develop a critical analysis of the content. This critical review provides an opportunity for the students to display the major concepts they learned through the assignment.
This sequential process allows students to gather, analyze and synthesize information in a systematic way. The use of writing as a pedagogical strategy to reinforce science concepts has been used in a variety of contexts for more than three decades.


Teachers need to ensure students are able to solve problems, while also incorporating proper language conventions into their responses. Students are provided with a variety of websites and encouraged to explore each site in detail.
Throughout the course, Lorri uses several different styles of visual organizers, depending on the purpose, type of information, and the nature of the task.
In some instances students may simply summarize the information they found on a specific concept. Since the course is asynchronous and there isna€™t really a a€?talkinga€? component, students post to the discussion board and a€?talka€? about their findings; the idea is to promote understanding and application of the science content to real life situations. Students are provided with written directions and another a€?mini lecturea€™ to help guide them. Finally, it gives them an opportunity for further exploration of the content to further expand their understanding of the specific term in order to develop ownership of the science language (McKee & Ogle, 2005). She instructs her students to decide what is fact and what is opinion, in the process of developing and composing a critical review of the content that is supported by their research. It also gives Lorri a summative assessment tool to evaluate the studenta€™s understanding of the overarching concept being taught, and their ability to apply it to a real context. This method also provides students an opportunity to mentally organize the information in multiple ways, within the context of real world scenarios. Typing the entire transcript of your remarks into slides is the fastest way to lose your listeners. The virtual environment poses an additional challenge because teachers and students are not able to directly converse, as in a traditional face-to-face manner, so it is important to incorporate appropriate strategies that require students to a€?talka€™ in written format.
She teaches the MVS course in forensic science and is currently developing biology courses.


Students are provided with a rubric, and Lorri comments on writing mechanics, detail, accuracy of the content, and application, among other criteria. For example, if Lorri wants the students to simply organize information, the students will usually use a basic table format.
Lorri uses PointeCast to turn these narrated MS PowerPoint presentations into Flash files that the students can view online. Microthemes have been described as an essay that can fit on a 5a€? x 8a€? index card (Work, 1979). Talk in the science classroom: Looking at what students and teachers need to know and be able to do.
Lorri demonstrates that students can be successful when science literacy is incorporated into the content of her online science courses. If she wants the students to compare and contrast the content, they would often use a Venn diagram. An example of a case would be Murder By The Book, where students make the real-world connection of the importance of soil composition in crime solving.
Using these aids completed in the first two steps, students know to search for specific points or clues that will solve the case or find important information. Lorria€™s use of writing to teach science literacy to online students at MVS is an example that utilizes a similar strategy of having students write in directed ways in a very specific manner to learn scientific concepts. Paper presented at the annual National Science Teachers Association national convention, Orlando, FL.



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