viernes, 23 de octubre de 2009


The inquiry-based learning unit about the systems of the human body was applied a group of twenty-two fourth grade students ages nine to ten during their science classes at Gimnasio de Los Cerros school in Bogotá, Colombia, where these grade four students have studied science, math and social studies in English for four years.

The students follow a Spanish-English bilingual program which includes a science course from grade K to six which is divided in four major units: life science, earth science, physical science, and human body. This science program is taught in four classes: three forty-five minute traditional lecture classes and one forty-five minute laboratory session every week. Most of these science classes are concerned with general terminology, scientific laws and methods, and sometimes they include long lectures and readings. According to this program, students are expected to reach a full command of science concepts by grade six.

This group of students has studied English as a second language for four years following a literacy approach which includes listening and speaking (oral language), reading, writing; and the process of critical thinking, which is an integral part of each of these elements. They have a low-intermediate level of English language proficiency.

These students like participating and working in science hands-on activities in class. They have good manual and manipulative skills. They have good eye-hand coordination. They like peer group activities and friendships are important for them. They are mastering concepts of time and distance. They can express abstract ideas in poetry, drawings, and songs. They begin to show special talents such as arts, music, etc. They take personal pride in completion of their own projects. They assume responsibility for their own acts. They wish to be helpful. They question values and attitudes and start to set their own. They can apply logic and can understand some abstract concepts as well.

Students in grade four at Gimnasio de Los Cerros belong to emotionally stable families who have an upper-middle social class and can afford to give their children everything they need to study. A good number of these students have had the opportunity to travel to English-speaking countries mainly to the United States and some of them have relatives or friends who speak English as a first or as a second language.

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