March/April 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 6

Preservice Resources

Posted: Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

by Donna Ross

For many of you reading this column, this begins the school year when you make the shift from studying science to teaching science.  Welcome to an exciting new career!  Teaching is one of the most rewarding and exhausting jobs imaginable.  Most teacher education programs include useful readings, video examples and assignments, but there is never enough time to prepare people for the complexities of teaching.  Many additional resources are available to dedicated beginning teachers.  Some are even free, including math and science education books published by The National Academies Press.  The National Academies Press publishes reports issued by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council.  To access these books, go to http://www.nap.edu/topicpage.php?topic=350 and select a book, then scroll down to free resources to view an electronic copy of the book.  Which book to choose?

Secondary science teachers might choose to read America’s Lab Report:  Investigations in High School Science, http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11311.  This book reviews the history of lab experiences in high school classes and describes effective labs.  In addition, it includes results from studies that suggest most modern science classes conduct one lab experience per week, but those labs frequently are not well embedded into the curriculum or are rote exercises that students do not connect to the deeper content.  In addition, lower-income areas tend to have schools with fewer effective lab experiences.  For the labs to be meaningful, the content and processes should be well integrated and sequenced with clear objectives, and the students should have structured opportunities to reflect and discuss their learning.  This book also provides guidance on laboratory safety, design, and equipment.

Elementary and middle school science teachers might choose to read Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms, http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11882.  This book examines the need for strong science instruction in our elementary and middle schools.  Using vignettes and research summaries, curriculum and pedagogical recommendations are provided.  For example, the use of  “science talk” or “academically productive talk” in K-8 classrooms is outlined and the benefits, including deeper engagement, scientific reasoning, and critical thinking, are explained.  Science instruction is divided into four primary strands: understanding scientific explanations, generating scientific evidence, reflecting on scientific knowledge, and participating productively in science.  Those of you with a strong science background will probably recognize this as similar to the threads in the nature of science.  This is because science education should help students understand the nature of the discipline itself.

Biology teachers, wondering how to respond the first time a parent questions the teaching of natural selection, might choose to read Science, Evolution, and Creationism, http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11876.  This book reviews the scientific research but also examines the common arguments the public puts forth against the teaching of evolution.  The differences in the fields of science and religion are discussed with an explanation of how each field addresses different types of questions.  In addition, the book provides language to discuss the reality that many scientists are also religious individuals.

We should all be interested in connecting what we know about how students learn with their teaching of science.  To that end, any science teacher might choose to read How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom, http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11102.  This book explores the research on the importance of activating prior knowledge, providing experiences to directly face evidence of misconceptions, understanding the cultural context of science, and increasing discussion and community participation in science classes.

As we strive to increase the use of inquiry in science classrooms and to meet standards, we should read Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide for Teaching and Learning, http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=9596.  This book provides vignettes and practical examples of how to incorporate inquiry into science teaching while meeting the national standards.  In addition, it provides continua and explanations to demonstrate the different levels of inquiry to make informed decisions about the best level of inquiry for particular units of study.

These are a sampling of the books, podcasts, and videos available from the National Academies Press.  Other sources, including websites, university faculty members, school colleagues, and the California Science Teachers Association, all offer additional resources.  One of the greatest opportunities and responsibilities for teachers is to continue their own learning.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

One Response

  1. Donna, This is a great article!
    Thanks!
    Valerie

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