Exploring the role of intertextuality in concept construction: Urban second graders make sense of evaporation, boiling, and condensation


  • Joint first authorship for the first two authors.


The study explores urban second graders' thinking and talking about the concepts of evaporation, boiling, and condensation that emerged in the context of intertextuality within an integrated science-literacy unit on the topic of States of Matter, which emphasized the water cycle. In that unit, children and teacher engaged in a variety of activities (reading information books, doing hands-on explorations, writing, drawing, discussing) in a dialogically oriented way where teacher and children shared the power and the burden of making meaning. The three qualitative interrelated analyses showed children who initiated or continued productive links to texts, broadly defined, that gave them spaces to grapple with complex ideas and ways of expressing them. Although some children showed preference for a certain way of thinking about evaporation, boiling, and condensation, the data do not point toward a definite conclusion relative to whether children subscribe or not to a particular conceptual position. Children had multiple, complex, and often speculative, tentative, and emergent ways of accessing and interpreting these phenomena, and their conceptions were contextually based—different contexts offered opportunities for students to theorize about different aspects of the phenomena (along with some similar aspects). Children also theorized about aspects of the same phenomena in different ways. © 2006 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 43: 637–666, 2006