Miranda Fitzgerald, who completed her doctoral degree in Educational Studies in the spring of 2018, was awarded the Graduate Student Award for Literacy Research Excellence by the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Research in Reading and Literacy Special Interest Group (SIG). Her winning paper is titled “Overlapping Opportunities for Literacy Learning and Social-Emotional Learning in Elementary Grades Project-Based Science.” As PBL gains momentum in K-12 classrooms, says Fitzgerald, we need to better understand the ways in which teachers and students take up these opportunities.
In her paper, she explains that Project-based learning (PBL) approaches provide opportunities for students to
• explore meaningful questions using multiple disciplinary lenses;
• read, interpret, and produce a wide range of texts as they engage in disciplinary inquiry; and
• develop and use a range of social-emotional skills and competencies as they work together to solve real-world problems.
Using portraiture and case study methods, Dr. Fitzgerald’s study explores how the design and enactment of a literacy-rich project-based science curriculum provides opportunities for literacy learning and social-emotional learning (SEL) in a third-grade classroom. Her findings revealed that the PBL curriculum and the teacher’s enactment created multiple, overlapping opportunities for students to use literacy tools of reading, writing, and oral language in service of disciplinary knowledge building and to advance goals associated with SEL.