Inquiring Scientists, Inquiring Readers: Using Nonfiction to Promote Science Literacy, Grades 3–5

by: Jessica Fries-Gaither and Terry Shiverdecker

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Winner of the Distinguished Achievement Award from PreK-12 Learning Group, Association of American Publishers!

In Inquiring Scientists, Inquiring Readers, science educators Jessica Fries-Gaither and Terry Shiverdecker help teachers blend literacy into elementary science instruction. This unique book will show teachers how to teach science using a variety of nonfiction text sets (such as field guides, reference books, and narrative expository texts) and replace individual lessons with a learning-cycle format (including hands-on investigations, readings, directed discussion, and problem solving).

Research-based and teacher-friendly, Inquiring Scientists, Inquiring Readers shows how inquiry can engage your students in reading nonfiction texts, discussing important science concepts, and writing to both develop understanding and share information. Here are some of the book’s special features:

• Eight units covering life, physical, Earth, and space science—from “Drip Drop Detectives: Exposing the Water Cycle” to “Classroom Curling: Exploring Forces and Motion” to “Beaks and Biomes: Understanding Adaptation in Migrating Organisms.” Two additional units cover the nature of science. All units have been classroom-tested for effectiveness and align with the National Science Education Standards and the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts.

• Detailed scientific background, common misconceptions associated with the content, an annotated list of the texts in the text set, safety considerations, reproducible student pages, and suggested assessments.

• Authentic, inquiry-based contexts for reading, writing, and discussion through read-alouds, collaborative activities, graphic organizers, and writing prompts.

Inquiring Scientists, Inquiring Readers will change the way you think about engaging your students. The authors show that it’s possible to integrate literacy into elementary-level science instruction without sacrificing quality in either area.

Table of Contents


About the Authors


Part I: Integrating Literacy and Science Instruction

Chapter 1: The Science-Literacy Connection

Chapter 2: Inquiry and the Learning Cycle

Chapter 3: Authentic and Relevant Literacy Experiences in Inquiry

Chapter 4: Nonfiction Text Sets

Chapter 5: Getting Started with the Inquiry Units

Part II: The Inquiry Units

Chapter 6: Scientists Like Me

Chapter 7: Measuring Pennies and More

Chapter 8: Minds-on Matter: Phase Changes and Physical Properties

Chapter 9: Classroom Curling: Exploring Forces and Motion

Chapter 10: Beaks and Biomes: Understanding Adaptation in Migrating Organisms

Chapter 11: My Favorite Tree

Chapter 12: Come Fly With Me

Chapter 13: Drip Drop Detectives: Exposing the Water Cycle

Chapter 14: Let’s Dig! Exploring Fossils

Chapter 15: Patterns in the Sky

Chapter 16: Final Thoughts

Appendix 1. Background Information: Science Process Skills and Literacy Activities

Appendix 2. Rubrics and Achievement Grading Standards

Appendix 3. Standards Alignment Matrix


Download a sample chapter

Grade Levels



5E Earth & Space Science Inquiry Instructional Materials Interdisciplinary Life Science Literacy Physical Science Teaching Strategies


Type NSTA Press BookPub Date 10/20/2012ISBN 978-1-936959-10-5Stock # PB325X

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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