Engaging Children in Science (3rd Edition)

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9780130406743: Engaging Children in Science (3rd Edition)

The third edition of Engaging Children in Science maintains its inquiry-based constructivist approach while bringing fresh insights and updated material based on current research and best practice. In simple terms, this book explains the use of constructivism, inquiry-based instruction, authentic assessment, and identifying misconceptions in today's science classrooms. Illustrative examples translate these ideas into successful classroom practice that encourages pupils to become independent learners. Specific chapter topics include teaching basic science skills, teaching science as inquiry, teaching science to promote independent learning, enhancing instruction through assessment, planning for achieving goals, shaping the classroom learning environment, including all children in science, integrating science with other subjects, taking science beyond the classroom, and using computers in science. For elementary school science teachers.

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Engaging Children in Science is a comprehensive guide to a course in science teaching methods for preservice and inservice elementary school teachers. This third edition maintains its constructivist approach but reflects subtle changes in emphases and priorities that have occurred in science education since the second edition was published.

  • The idea that science should be fun has given way to the idea that science should challenge children to think.
  • Today, there is greater emphasis on making science relevant to the lives of children and on including all children.
  • Research on conceptual change has shown that change is gradual, that new learning must be built on what is already known or believed, and that this applies to adults, including teachers, as well as to children.
  • Change in the power and availability of computers has been almost overwhelming, and we are still learning how to use them as tools in teaching science.

NEW TO THIS EDITION

A new chapter, Chapter 3, integrates science content and processes in a series of investigations for students to carry out in class. Students will be able to experience some of the excitement of learning science through active engagement in investigations that model inquiry-based science teaching. For many students this may be their first opportunity to learn what it means to be a student in a class based on constructivist principles. These investigations challenge students to engage in thinking both about science and about teaching science. Some of the investigations were developed specifically for this edition. Others, used in previous editions as examples of lessons for elementary school pupils, have been rewritten for students and gathered together in this chapter.

Chapter 7, on assessment, has been revised by expanding sections on authentic assessment, alternative assessment, rubrics, concept mapping, and integration of assessment and instruction.

Chapter 10, on inclusion, recognizes that teachers have a responsibility to create, a classroom climate in which all children are accepted and all have the opportunity to learn science. Students should be prepared to make science meaningful and interesting to both boys and girls, to children from diverse cultural groups, to children with disabilities, and to children living in poverty. Multicultural classrooms present opportunities and challenges for teachers to broaden their views of the relationship between science and culture. An important part of preparation to meet this challenge is understanding the influence of high, though reasonable, teacher expectations.

Other chapters have also been revised and updated in significant ways. Chapter 13, on computers, now incorporates current thinking about the use of computers as tools for thinking. Included are lessons that demonstrate ways to use computers that are compatible with, and supportive of, inquiry. The emphasis is not on learning to use applications such as spreadsheets and databases but on how to use them to support science learning.

ORGANIZATION OP THE TEXT

Part I, A Framework for Teaching Science, establishes the scientific, theoretical, and practical foundations for the remainder of this textbook. The opening chapter gives a brief account of the modern view of science and its interpretation in the National Science Education Standards. This is followed in Chapter 2 by the theoretical basis for constructivism derived from the writings of Dewey, Piaget, Vygotsky, Bruner, and Kohlberg. As described earlier, Chapter 3 engages students in investigations that are practical applications of constructivist learning theory.

In Part II, Focusing on Instruction, there is a progression in Chapters 4 through 6 from direct instruction through guided inquiry to independent, or autonomous, learning. All three methods are based on active engagement of pupils, but the roles of both the teacher and pupils change as the pupils assume more responsibility for their own learning. These chapters provide step-by-step instructions and detailed plans for science investigations, illustrating each of the instructional methods described. Lessons in earth science, physical science, and life science—all tied to the National Science Education Standards—are included.

Chapter 7, on assessment, is included in Part II to emphasize the close connection between authentic assessment and meaningful learning. This chapter closes with an illustrative case study of a teacher who found that not all assessment ideas worked for her but that changing her methods of assessment transformed her teaching. The final chapter in Part II, Chapter 8, focuses on the processes of setting goals and planning for meeting them. A central theme of this textbook is the goal of helping children become autonomous learners by gradually giving them more control over and more responsibility for their own learning. A new feature of this chapter is a series of three lessons on the same topic—measuring area—taught first as direct instruction, then as guided inquiry, and finally as independent learning. This series of lessons demonstrates the three instructional methods described in the first three chapters of Part II and also demonstrates what is meant by providing for different degrees of pupil independence, or autonomy, in lesson planning.

Part III, Creating an Inclusive Science Program, begins with Chapter 9, on the physical and affective environment needed to promote inquiry. It covers some of the special considerations to be taken into account in managing science materials and in ensuring that children learn behavior appropriate for inquiry-based instruction. Following the chapter on inclusion, described earlier, the discussion in Chapter 11 considers reasons for integrating science with other subjects in the curriculum and how to do it. Chapter 12 includes outlines of lesson plans for seven science investigations to be carried out on or near the school grounds and suggestions for taking science beyond the classroom in the sense of considering the relation of science to society. The final chapter discusses using computers in new ways to meet instructional goals.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The classroom conversations between Mr. Newman, a teacher in training, and Ms. Oldhand, an experienced teacher, are continued in this edition. Some former students found these conversations unrealistic, but others identified with Mr. Newman in his efforts to understand what Ms. Oldhand is doing and why she is doing it. This is one of the ways in which this textbook reflects what it means to teach science to real children in real classrooms.

Another important feature is the Material Resource Notes inserted throughout the textbook to alert instructors or students to sources of materials needed for lessons. Other significant features are the Questions for Discussion at the end of the chapter and Activities for the Reader. They are not afterthoughts but are central to the constructivist approach of the book. The Questions for Discussion are intended to stimulate independent thinking on the part of students and to model the kinds of questions they will ask their pupils. The Activities for the Reader suggest firsthand experiences that can lead students to construct new knowledge and gain understanding about learning and teaching science. These activities have been designed to be used as assignments to assist the course instructor in modeling the constructivist approach to teaching.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I am indebted to many teachers and colleagues who have shared their insights and experiences over the years and have enlarged my understanding by challenging my ideas. I am indebted beyond measure to Linda Jones, my colleague and friend, instigator and coauthor of the first two editions. I thank the teachers at Fuller Elementary School in Raleigh who have welcomed me into their classrooms so that I could be reminded of the realities of teaching inquiry-based science to a culturally diverse, inclusive group of children spanning several grade levels. I am also indebted to my grandchildren, Patricia, Sally, Nora, and Caroline, who are constant reminders of the importance of challenging and stimulating bright young minds. I am especially grateful to my husband, Charles, who has always offered steady encouragement and support with patience and good humor.

Special thanks are due to all the people at Prentice Hall who have been instrumental in bringing this book into being. I take this opportunity to express my deep appreciation to Linda Montgomery who brought fresh ideas of her own and gave support and guidance as I revised, reorganized, and added to the previous edition. Thanks go to Brad Potthoff who got the revision underway, to Mary Irvin who shepherded the manuscript through a series of problems, to Carol Sykes and Valerie Schulz who took special care to integrate photos and text, and to other members of the editorial staff who contributed their skills and expertise. I owe a debt to Jerry Moore who edited out my lapses of grammar and murky phrases, and to those at York Production Services and Carlisle Communications who worked to make the book what I wanted it to be.

I also thank the reviewers whose comments and suggestions were the basis for many of the revisions that make this book different from the previous edition: Lloyd Barrow, University of Missouri; Lawrence Bellipanni, University of Southern Mississippi; G. Nathan Carnes, University of South Carolina, Columbia; Richard Griffiths, California State University, San Bernardino; and Catherine E. Matthews, University of North Carolina, Greensboro.

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