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Resources for Teaching Middle School Science PART 2 MIDDLE SCHOOL SCIENCE CURRICULUM MATERIALS OVERVIEW CHAPTER 1 PHYSICAL SCIENCE CHAPTER 2 LIFE SCIENCE CHAPTER 3 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE CHAPTER 4 EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE CHAPTER 5 MULTIDISCIPLINARY AND APPLIED SCIENCE CHAPTER 6 SOURCES OF INFORMATION ON EDUCATIONAL SOFTWARE AND MULTIMEDIA PROGRAMS word "Sears" to be opaqued by printer
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Resources for Teaching Middle School Science Storing electricity
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Resources for Teaching Middle School Science PART 2 OVERVIEW The first five chapters in part 2 of Resources for Teaching Middle School Science include annotations for an extensive selection of currently available print curriculum materials, produced between 1987 and 1998, for teaching hands-on, inquiry-centered science in grades six through eight. These materials were selected for inclusion in the guide on the basis of a set of evaluation criteria, developed by the National Science Resources Center, that incorporate the goals and principles defined in the National Science Education Standards. The five chapters and examples of the topics they include are— Chapter 1, "Physical Science," which includes materials on such topics as the chemistry of matter, heat energy, electricity and magnetism, and sound and light. Chapter 2, "Life Science," which includes materials on topics such as cells, plants and animals, heredity, human biology and health, and biodiversity. Chapter 3, "Environmental Science," which includes materials on topics such as acid rain, global warming, and pollution. (These materials may approach their subject from the perspective of the life, physical, and/or earth sciences, but the overall topic is of an "environmental" nature.) Chapter 4, "Earth and Space Science," which includes materials on topics such as the earth and other planets, earthquakes, rocks and minerals, weather, and oceanography.
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Resources for Teaching Middle School Science Chapter 5, "Multidisciplinary and Applied Science," which includes materials on widely varying topics, such as matter and energy in the biosphere, the technology of paper, and transportation systems. Materials in this chapter relate to several scientific disciplines, integrate scientific disciplines, or focus on the application of scientific processes. The last chapter in part 2—Chapter 6, "Sources of Information on Educational Software and Multimedia Programs"—directs readers to some of the periodicals, directories, and organizations that specialize in reviewing computer software and other multimedia instructional materials appropriate for middle school science classrooms. The extensive indexes at the end of the guide, including the index of topics addressed in curriculum materials, can help readers locate annotations on particular subjects. The Organization of Materials in Chapters 1–5 Because instructional materials are designed to be used in different ways, the NSRC has identified three categories for classifying different types of science curriculum materials. The annotations in the curriculum chapters are placed in these three categories: Core materials are substantial enough to form the foundation of a comprehensive middle school science curriculum. Supplementary units often consist of a series of activity-centered lessons. These units can provide enrichment for inquiry-based science teaching but may not have the depth or focus of core curriculum units. Science activity books offer a selection of ideas and activities to facilitate science learning. These materials are generally too broad in scope or specific in focus to serve as the foundation of a comprehensive science program. The placement of materials in these three categories implies no judgment as to the quality or merit of the materials reviewed. All of the materials annotated in this guide are considered to be effective teaching materials. The Annotations This section provides an explanation of how the information in the annotations is organized. Alphabetical arrangement of annotations by title, with entry numbers. The annotations in chapters 1 through 5 are arranged alphabetically by title in each category. In addition, each annotation has a two-part entry number. (The chapter number is given before the period; the number after the period locates the entry within that chapter. For example, the first entry number in chapter 1 is 1.1; the second entry in chapter 2 is 2.2, and so on.) The entry numbers within each curriculum chapter run consecutively through Core Materials, Supplementary Units, and Science Activity Books.
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Resources for Teaching Middle School Science (The indexes locate each title by its entry number.) Bibliographic information. The bibliographic information is based on the actual volumes reviewed. (Some titles may have been revised or updated since materials were submitted for review.) Program overviews for core and supplementary units. Most core and supplementary units are developed in the context of a curriculum series or program. A brief description of the series or program is presented with each title in these categories in order to provide readers with a more complete picture of the material. (See also appendix D.) Recommended grade level. The narrative description of each item is preceded by the grade level recommended by teacher reviewers during the NSRC review of curriculum materials. The recommendations reflect the reviewers' judgment of the levels for which the learning activities would be most appropriate. In some instances, the recommended grade level may differ slightly from the publisher's advertised level. Reading level. A reading level is indicated for core materials. This designation, which appears immediately after the recommended grade level, was provided by a reading specialist using the Edward Fry Readability Scale. Together with the recommended grade level, it can help teachers gauge whether material is appropriate for their students not only conceptually but in terms of students' reading ability. (On occasion, a unit did not have student reading selections of sufficient length to use this reading scale, so the reading level could not be included.) Description of the curriculum material. The curriculum annotations were written specifically to provide information and assistance to those involved in teaching classes and designing programs in middle school science. These descriptions focus on what students will learn and do. Each annotation describes the organization of the piece of curriculum material and the support it provides for teachers. The descriptions of some core materials and supplementary units are subdivided into parts that describe the different components—for example, Student Edition, Teacher's Guide, Supplementary Laboratory Manual, and so forth—to give as complete a view of the material as possible within the space limitations of this volume. Unit structure and time required for completion. Information is given about the internal structure of a unit and, where available, about the length of time needed to complete it—for example, the number of lessons or class periods, the suggested length of lessons, or the overall time required.
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Resources for Teaching Middle School Science Such information is taken directly from the unit, textbook, or activity book itself, although not all books or units state this information consistently. Key to content standards: 5-8. After the narrative description of each core and supplementary unit is a list of the content standards for grades 5-8 that are characterized by that unit or textbook. The content standards are from the National Science Education Standards (NSES) (see appendix C, which contains the reprinted text of the NSES content standards for grades 5-8). Ordering information. Each entry in the curriculum chapters ends with information on the cost of the materials and where they can be ordered. The cost information should be checked with publishers or distributors before ordering, since prices are subject to change. (Appendix A, "Publishers and Suppliers," provides addresses and contact information.) NSRC's Review of Curriculum Materials To gather curriculum materials for review, the NSRC issued general invitations to publishers to submit materials and attempted to obtain any that were not forthcoming. Many hundreds of titles were reviewed in the course of the NSRC review process. Among these were any titles that had been annotated in NSRC's first guide in the series—Resources for Teaching Elementary School Science—that were appropriate for sixth-grade science courses. Such materials were reviewed according to the NSRC's "Evaluation Criteria for Middle School Science Curriculum Materials" and are included here if they met the criteria. The review process developed by the NSRC for the selection of curriculum materials involved panels of teachers and scientists. The teachers were experienced and knowledgeable in the teaching of middle school science, with most being lead science teachers or master teachers who had taught in school districts with effective science programs. Their backgrounds included participation in numerous science curriculum development activities; they had training and experience teaching students with different learning styles and abilities and had taught student populations representing diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. The panels also included individuals with experience and training in cooperative learning, assessment strategies, the integration of curriculum, and the use of modern technology. Reviewers had experience with a variety of instructional materials for middle school science programs
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and were able to use the NSRC evaluation criteria effectively to identify differences and to recognize strengths and weaknesses in curriculum materials. The scientists on the panel had expertise in one of four areas—life science, earth science, physical science, and applied science or technology. Every effort was made to match each scientist reviewer with curriculum materials relevant to his or her area of expertise. The scientists on the panel included teaching professors, working scientists, and others with an understanding of precollege science education. NSRC's Curriculum Evaluation Criteria Consistent with the NSRC's philosophy of science teaching and with the National Science Education Standards, the materials included in this guide are hands-on and inquiry-centered. Briefly described, such materials provide opportunities for students to learn through direct observation and experimentation; they engage students in experiences not to confirm the "right" answer but to investigate the nature of things and to arrive at explanations that are scientifically correct and satisfying to young adolescents. These experiences offer students opportunities to experiment productively, to ask questions and find their own answers, and to develop patience, persistence, and confidence in their ability to tackle and solve real problems. The evaluation criteria developed by the NSRC are based on the goals and principles defined in the National Science Education Standards. The NSRC evaluation criteria are also informed by the experience gained by the NSRC in its ongoing review of science curriculum materials under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences and the Smithsonian Institution; and in its outreach work with teachers, superintendents, principals, and science curriculum coordinators across the United States. The evaluation criteria that the NSRC developed are organized in the following sections: Pedagogical appropriateness. These criteria elaborate on the following key questions: Do the materials promote effective middle school science teaching and learning? Are inquiry and activity the basis of the learning experiences? Are the topics addressed in the unit and the modes of instruction developmentally appropriate? Science content and presentation. These criteria address whether the science content is accurate, up to date, and effectively presented. Specific issues addressed include the following: Do the suggested investigations lead to an understanding of basic science concepts and principles? Is the writing style
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Resources for Teaching Middle School Science interesting and engaging, while respecting scientific language? Which of the subject matter standards from the National Science Education Standards does the material focus on? Organization and format; materials, equipment, and supplies; and equity issues. The criteria on organization and format include questions about the presentation of information—for example, whether the suggestions for instructional delivery are adequate and whether the print materials for students are well written, age appropriate, and compelling in content. The criteria concerning hands-on science materials focus on questions such as the clarity and adequacy of instructions on manipulating laboratory equipment and the inclusion of appropriate safety precautions. Criteria addressing equity issues include the question of whether the material is free of cultural, racial, gender, and age bias. The NSRC evaluation criteria are reprinted in appendix B, "NSRC Evaluation Criteria for Curriculum Materials." Teachers, curriculum specialists, curriculum developers, principals, superintendents, and those involved in various aspects of science education reform may find the criteria not only instructive, but useful as an instrument for reviewing instructional materials for local adoption.
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