Personal narrative: from story to science

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Personal narrative: from story to science

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Minnesota and Wisconsin Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages




This study explores how writing personal narratives helps ESL students demonstrate their understanding of science vocabulary and concepts. Key influences include: the funds of knowledge students bring to the classroom (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992), academic English (Zwiers, 2008) vocabulary instruction (McKeown & Beck, 2004), and scientific literacy (Lee, 2005 and Lemke, 1990). The research method consisted of five cycles of action research with 11 eighth-grade ESL students in an ESL classroom which supported what was concurrently being taught in the mainstream science class. Collected data included observations and written personal narratives. The main findings were: 1) students can demonstrate understanding of both science vocabulary and concepts as wells as academic language functions common to science through personal narrative writing, 2) students can apply science vocabulary when writing about their life experiences, and 3) intentional and thoughtful planning and preteaching of vocabulary helps students access and engage in science content.



Page 70-91

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Thorson, Dena. (2012). Personal narrative: from story to science. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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