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Integrating trade books into science instruction in a fifth grade classroom

1 June 1998


The purpose of this qualitative study was to answer one major research question: C How is literature-based instruction used in a fifth-grade science classroom? My research was influenced by educational theorists, Piaget, Vygotsky, and Dewey, and numerous researchers. The theories of Pia get, Vygotsky, and Dewey provided the support for research on the effects of literature-based programs. One such study by Morrow (1996) found that trade books were motivating for students because of their ability to form relevance to the students' lives. The setting for this study was a fifth grade classroom at a K-5 elementary school located in a suburb of a metropolitan area. The participants were twenty-four fifth grade students. The information was gathered by means of field observations, taped interviews, and two surveys. Pseudonyms were used to protect the identity of the students. After collecting and analyzing extensive observation notes and responses to interviews and surveys, various trends emerged in the way that the teacher conducted literature-based science instruction and students responded. This study found that the teacher chose which trade books to use according to those that students would find interesting, contained sound scientific content, and related to the current curriculum. She used trade books primarily as reference tools and read-alouds. Students responded to the use of read-aloucls in a variety of ways, conveying the general opinion that they like science trade books and learn from them.


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