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'I: Catted for Selecting Inquiry -Centered Science Cumcutun' Mat:enats In schools including good schools all over the world, we have come to accept certain performances as signals of knowledge or understanding. If you answer questions on a multiple-choice test in a certain way, or carry out a problem set in a specif ed manner, you wid be credited with understanding. No one ever asks the question, "But do you really understand ?" Howard Garclner, The Unschooled Mind, 1991 School districts throughout the country observe a unique tradition every few years: the review and selection of curriculum materials. The science materials adoption committee, charged with the task of reviewing elementary science curriculum materials, invites publishers to submit their materials for consideration. Some publishers respond by supplying sets of at- tractively iTIustratecI, full-color elementary textbooks, sometimes with optional videotapes, vicleo~lisks, or computer software. Other publishers offer a very different kind of elementary science pro 63

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change gram: a series of inquiry-centered science modules. The modular nature of these materials allows teachers or school districts to build their own unique curriculum by using a combination of modules from one or more of the different programs available. How can the science materials adoption committee choose among all these different products? Are there any guidelines that the committee can use to make this job easier? The purpose of this chapter is to present three sets of well- tested criteria that materials adoption committees can use as they review elementary science curriculum materials. The first set con- cerns pedagogical appropriateness. This category encompasses the following key questions: 1) Do the materials address the important goals of elementary science teaching and learning? 2) Are inquiry and activity the basis of learning experiences? 3) Are the instruc- tional approaches consonant with the goals of the program? The second set includes information about science content. Cri- teria in this category cover whether the materials are scientifically accurate and whether they are developmentally appropriate. The third set concerns presentation of information and format. These cri- teria refer to the clarity of the information en c] how it is presented in the written materials. All three sets of criteria are based on a chart used for reviewing curriculum materials developed by the National Science Resources Center, which is presented at the end Of this chapter. These criteria are consistent with the National Sci- ence Education Standards. The following sections explain the cri- teria included on this chart. Criteria for fudging Pedagogical Appropriateness Pedagogical appropriateness is a broad subject, covering many as- pects of teaching. This discussion emphasizes three areas: ad- dressing the goals of elementary science teaching and learning, fo- cusing on inquiry and activity as the basis of learning experiences, and using an effective instructional approach. Addressing the Goals of Elementary Science Teaching and Learning 1. Do the materials focus on concrete experiences with science phenomena? As discussed in Chapters 1 and 2, building students' conceptual understanding requires ample opportunity for students 64

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Cntena for Selecting Inquiry-Centered Science Curriculum Matenals A teacher uses a crzterza checklist to evaluate an inquiry-centered science module. to work directly with science phenomena. Through hands- on, inquiry-centered experi- ences, students build their knowleclge base. 2. Do the materials en- able children to investigate important science concepts in depth over an extended period of time? The materi- als should give students an opportunity to study a single subject and its relatecl con- cepts in clepth. For example, in a Gleason moLlule about butterflies, key concepts will include the life cycle of a but- terfly and its stages. Further- more, teachers need to teach lessons from the science module at least two times a week for six to eight weeks, depending on the grade level, to achieve the appropriate level of depth. 3. Do the curriculum materials contribute to the development of scientific reasoning and problem-solving skills? If the materials are to accomplish this goal, process skills must be introducecl in a logical and developmentally appropriate progression. For example, in the early primary grades (grades 1 and 2), children benefit *om focusing on observing, measuring, and identifying properties of concrete objects and organisms, such as butterflies, or of easily old servable phenomena, such as weather. In gracles 3 through 5, chil- dren can begin to deal with more complex phenomena, such as electricity, and learn to seek evidence and recognize patterns and cycles. BY the time children reach grade 6~ they are ready to begin J J tJ ' J designing their own controlled experiments. 4. Do the materials stimulate students' interest and relate sci- ence learning to daily life? Science programs should help students 65

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change become more acute observers of their world, better able to un- derstancl phenomena and to identify patterns. For example, stu- dents may begin to realize that the caterpillars crawling in their back yard in spring are part of the life cycle of butterflies. In mak- ing these connections, students are well on their way to seeing and appreciating the relevance of science to everyday life. To stimulate this kind of interest, the science program shouIcl make an explicit effort to include materials students find intrinsi- cally interesting, as well as questions students can investigate on their own. Then, students may choose to react a book on the sub . ~ . . . ect or perform a come science acovlty. 5. Do the matenals build conceptual understanding over sev- eral lessons through a logical sequence of related activities? To build conceptual understanding, the curriculum materials must have a well-defined, logical story line and engage students in activ- ities that build on one another in a related sequence. For example, in the second-gracle Full Option Science System (FOSS) module Pebbles, Sand, and Silt, students begin their study of earth materials by investigating the properties of rocks. Then, they explore a spe- cific kind of rock river rock-that contains earth materials of dif- ferent sizes. Next, students investigate how people use earth mate- rials to construct objects; they make rubbings from sandpaper, sculptures from sand, jewelry from clay, and bricks from clay soil. The module concludes with an investigation of soil, which is made of the earth materials students have already investigated. In addition, as children mature, the amount of information they are expected to master, as well as its complexity, shouIcl in- crease. The curriculum matrix, the framework for the science pro- gram, will tell the committee whether the program is designed in this way. For example, in the Science ant! Technology for Children (STC) program, children study Electra c Circuits in fourth grade en cl Magnets and Motors in sixth grade. The fourth-grade module fo- cuses on the basic principles of electricity, while the sixth-gra~le module shows how electricity and magnetism work together in a motor. Providing children with a working knowledge of electricity before they begin Magnets and Motors allows them to expand their knowledge en cl reach for a higher level of unclerstanding as they grow older. 66

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Criteria for Selecting Inquiry-Centered Science Curriculum Matenals 6. Does the instructional sequence include opportunities to assess children's prior knowledge and experience? An effective way to ensure that this issue is being considered is to look for evi- clence of the learning cycle in the program. As discussed in Chap- ter 2, the learning cycle encourages students to focus, explore, reflect, and apply as they study science. During the focus stage, students have an opportunity to share what they already know about a sub- ject and what they would like to learn. Students' responses will in- form the teacher of the students' prior knowledge and experience and about whether they have misconceptions or particular inter- ests that need to be addressed. In many curriculum programs, there are opportunities to refer to students' prior knowledge as - 1- 1 they progress through the learning module. Focusing on Inquiry and Activity as the Basis of Learning Expenences 1. Does the material focus on student inquiry and engage stu- dents in the processes of science? While students are working on inquiry-centered activities, the processes of science should be evi- (lent. Examples of these processes include observing and recogniz- ing noticeable changes in objects or phenomena, grouping objects by their properties, making scale drawings, making predictions, and drawing conclusions from ciata. 2. Does the material provide opportunities for students to gather and defend their own evidence and express their results in a variety of ways? Young children can gather evidence through ob- servations, and they can defend their observations verbally, in writ- ing, in clrawings, through simple graphs, or through dramatic pre- sentations. Students in fifth and sixth grade have opportunities to engage in these activities as they begin planning and designing their own investigations. Older children should continue to have the option of expressing their results in a variety of ways by mak- ing graphs or tables, through expository writing, or by developing dramatic presentations, for example. Using an Effective Instructional Approach 1. Does the material include a balance of student-directed and teacher-facilitated activities as well as discussions? The com 67

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change mittee should look for evidence that both student-directed and teacher-facilitatecT activities are part of the program. Both ap- proaches are important, because students need opportunities not only to pursue their own interests but also to learn concepts with the help of the teacher. Effective programs offer time for indivicI- ual and small-group explorations of science phenomena, as well as for explorations and discussions guided by the teacher to ensure that students have certain basic experiences and that knowledge is being synthesizer! en c! unclerstood. 2. Does the matenal incorporate effective strategies for Me teacher and/or students to use in assessing student learning? As will be seen in Chapter 8, assessments in inquiry-centerecl science programs cliffer from those in traditional ones because they stress the importance of using a variety of assessments. For example, stu- dents may perform activities similar to those clone in the module, complete a writing assignment, or complete a paper-ancl-penci} test to demonstrate what they have learnecl. These different kinds of assessments provide teachers with ample information about what students learned during the module anti whether learning goals were met. 3. Does the teacher's guide suggest opportunities for inte- grating science with other areas of the curriculum? Science should be integrated with other areas of the curriculum. During the kindergarten and first-grade Insights module Living Things, for ex- ample, chilclren observe plants and animals both outdoors en cl in a classroom plant terrarium and then write stories about their ex- periences, read books about terraria, and draw pictures of the trees they observe. These activities connect science to language arts and art. In a fifth-gracle FOSS moclule entitled Variables, stu- clents apply mathematics skills to science by graphing the number of swings a pendulum will make in a unit of time. In a second- and third-gracle Insights module entitled Liquids, the teacher may in- vite a Red Cross worker, a nurse, or an emergency medical techni- cian to the class to talk about clrinkable, nondrinkable, en cl poison- ous liquids, which creates a link to social studies. 4. Do students have opportunities to work collaboratively and alone? Corporate lea(lers have stressed the importance of teaching young people how to work in a team and to make decisions by con 68

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Cntena for Selecting Inquiry-Centered Science Curriculum Matenals sensus. For example, in the STC unit Balancing and Weighing, sec- ond-graders work in pairs as they explore the relationship between balance and weight. Teamwork allows students to learn group problem-solving strategies and to work with members of the class they might not normally seek out. After numerous experiences working together, students then work incliviclually to construct a mobile. This activity provides students with time to better under- stand the concepts. Criteria for Judging Science Content The following criteria address content issues that need to be con- sidered by the science materials adoption committee. I. Is the science content current ant! accurately represented? To be useful, the scientific information in the program must be ac- curate and reflect current scientific knowledge. 2. Does the content emphasize scientific inquiry? The vision presenter! in the National Science Education Standards requires that students engage in scientific inquiry to develop their understan(l- ing of science concepts. Eviclence of scientific inquiry includes "opportunities for students to ask questions, plan anti conduct in- vestigations, use appropriate tools en cl techniques to gather data, think critically and logically to clevelop explanations based on what they have observecl, construct en cl analyze alternative expla- nations, and communicate scientific arguments." 3. Is the content of the science program consistent with the Na- tional Science Education Standards? The Standarcis specify the knowledge and skills children at various levels should acquire in physical science, life science, and earth and space science. They also include information about what children should know in the areas of science and technology and of the history and nature of science. Finally, the Standards include information about how students can learn to use scientific knowledge to make informed decisions. 4. Does the background material for teachers address the sci- ence content that is taught, as well as common misconceptions? The material should include the major points the teacher needs to know to teach the lesson and should address common misconcep- tions. For example, many students think that because oil is viscous, it also must be dense, but this is not the case. Such misconceptions 69

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change must be addressed in the materials so that teachers know how to deal with these issues when they come up in class. 5. Is the treatment of content appropriate for the grade level? Developmental appropriateness is an important issue that must be addressed in evaluating elementary science materials. Both the depth of treatment and the content must be appropriate for each grade. For example, third-graclers can observe the life cycle of plants, but they are generally not yet ready to design controlled ex- periments to test the variables that affect plant growth. That level of complexity is more appropriate for sixth-graclers. Similarly, second- graders can understand that cars move fast or slowly, but they are not ready to understand acceleration and Newton's Laws of Motion. 6. Is the content free of bias? The information presented in the program should reflect different viewpoints and avoid personal opin- ions and biases. If there are several sicles to societal issues involv- ing science and technology, all perspectives should be adclressed. 7. Is the writing style for students and teachers interesting and engaging, and is scientific language used appropriately? Any subject becomes more interesting when it is well-written, and sci- ence is no exception. Students will develop a creeper unclerstanc3- ing of a subject if the language is engaging and if scientific lan- guage is used appropriately. S. Is scientific vocabulary used to facilitate understanding rather than as an end in itself? Learning scientific terms out of con- text does not help students understand science. If these terms are put into a context, define accurately and appropriately, and user] consistently, however, students will be able to understancl them. 9. Is science represented as an enterprise connected to soci- ety? Opportunities for students to relate science to the real world enhance their understancling of social issues. For example, as sci- entists raise concerns about global warming and other environ- mental issues, it is important for students to be knowledgeable about the underlying scientific concepts. Criteria for fudging Presentation and Format The following criteria address issues related to the presentation and format of the material. 1. Are the print materials for students well-written, develop 70

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Cntena for Selecting Inquiry-centered Science Curriculum Matenals mentally appropriate, and compelling in content? The committee needs to assess whether the materials are written at the right level for the designated grade and are interesting and informative for children. 2. Are the directions for implementing activities clear in both the teacher's guide and student materials? For example, the in- structions should include step-by-step directions that are accurate and easy to follow, suggestions for time limits, and the proper safe- t,v precautions. 3. Are the suggestions for instructional delivery in the teacher's guide adequate? The curriculum materials should in- clude information related to procedural techniques. For example, do the instructions provide detailed information about the best way to pour liquids or mix solids? Are instructions about the best way to use a hand lens explained in both words and pictures? This information helps ensure that the students will get accurate results after they complete the experiment or investigation. 4. Are the materials free of ethnic, cultural, racial, economic, age, and gender bias? Indications that these issues have been ad- dressed include pictures and photographs of children of different ethnic backgrounds, frequent references to the active involvement of girls in science investigations, and acknowledgment of the cul- tural diversity that can be found in many classrooms nationwide. 5. Are appropriate strategies provided to meet the special needs of diverse populations? The curriculum materials should acknowledge the validity of different learning styles and include different kinds of learning activities, such as those that emphasize visual learning, auditory learning, and tactile learning. In addi- tion, the materials must take into consideration students with physical disabilities and those with limited proficiency in English. 6. Are lists of materials for each activity provided, as well as a complete set of materials and information about reasonably priced replacement materials? Teachers cannot teach hands-on science curriculum units without adequate materials. Therefore, iris essen- tial that the necessary materials be easily obtained and that the mod- ules include information about ordering replacement materials. 7. Are safety precautions included where needed? Attention to safety issues is imperative. For example, if students are going to 71

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change be working with chemicals or heat, the use of goggles should be in- clu(led in the directions and any accompanying pictures. S. Are instructions for using laboratory equipment and mate- rials clear and adequate? Clear and precise instructions for using scientific equipment will ensure successful lessons, especially for teachers new to hands-on science teaching. The instructions also shouIcl include necessary safety precautions. Using the Criteria Curriculum materials committees often find it useful to convert criteria such as those discusser! above into a checklist. The advan- tage of a checklist is that at a glance, reviewers can tell what they should be looking for. Figure 5-1 shows how the criteria discussed in this chapter can be converted into an easy-to-use checklist for reviewers. A too! such as this one can make the job of reviewing materials and mak- ing decisions about them much easier. 72

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Criteria for Selecting Inquiry-centered Science Curriculum Materials Criteria for fudging Inquiry-Centered Science Curriculum Materials Criteria for fudging Pedagogical Appropriateness Addressing the Goals of Elementary Science Teaching and Learning Do the materials focus on concrete experiences with science phenomena? 2. Do the materials enable children to investigate important science concepts in depth over an extended period of time? 3. Do the curriculum materials contribute to the development of scientific reasoning and problem-solving skills? 4. Do the materials stimulate students' interest and relate science learning to daily life? 5. Do the materials build conceptual understanding over several lessons through a logical sequence of related activities? 6. Does the instructional sequence include opportunities to assess children's prior knowledge and experience? Focusing on Inquiry and Activity as the Basis of Learning Experiences Does the material focus on student inquiry and engage students in the processes of science? 2. Does the material provide opportunities for students to gather and defend their own evidence and express their results in a variety of ways? Using an Effective Instructional Approach Does the material include a balance of student-directed and teacher- facilitated activities as well as discussions? 2. Does the material incorporate effective strategies for the teacher and/or students to use in assessing student learning? 3. Does the teacher's guide suggest opportunities for integrating science with other areas of the curriculum? 4. Do students have opportunities to work collaboratively and alone? Figure 5-1 continued on next page 73

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The Nuts and Bolts of Change Criteria for Judging Inquiry-Centered Science Curriculum Materials continued Criteria for fudging Science Content 1. Is the science content current and accurately represented? 2. Does the content emphasize scientific inquiry? 3. Is the content of the science program consistent with the National Science Education Standards? 4. Does the background material for teachers address the science content that is taught, as well as common misconceptions? 5. Is the treatment of content appropriate for the grade level? 6. Is the content free of bias? 7. Is the writing style for students and teachers interesting and engaging, and is scientific language used appropriately? 8. Is scientific vocabulary used to facilitate understanding rather than as an end in itself? 9. Is science represented as an enterprise connected to society? Criteria for Judging Presentation and Format Are the print materials for students well-written, developmentally appropriate, and compelling in content? 2. Are the directions for implementing activities clear in both the teacher's guide and student materials? 3. Are the suggestions for instructional delivery in the teacher's guide adequate? 4. Are the materials free of ethnic, cultural, racial, economic, age, and gender bias? 5. Are appropriate strategies provided to meet the special needs of diverse populations? 6. Are lists of materials for each activity provided, as well as a complete set of materials and information about reasonably priced replacement materials? 7. Are safety precautions included where needed? 8. Are instructions for using laboratory equipment and materials clear and adequate? ~:'.;~:~.,f.'-.:,:.-. it' 74

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Cntena for Selecting Inquiry-Centered Science Curriculum Matenals Three sets of criteria are useful in evaluating elementary science curriculum materials.The first set concerns pedagogical appropriate- ness, which encompasses strategies for building conceptual under- standing, teaching science as inquiry, and applying effective instruc- tional strategies.The second set concerns science content, and the third, presentation and format The curriculum materials should be consistent with the National Science Education Standards. Converting criteria into a checklist for reviewers is an effective way to evaluate curriculum materials and make sound curriculum decisions. For Further Reading Brooks, J. G., and M. G. Brooks. 1993. In Search of Understanding: The Case for Con- structivist Classrooms. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Cur- riculum Development. Bybee, R. W., and l. D. McInerney, eds. 1995. Redesigning the Curriculum. Colorado Springs: BSCS. Champagne, A. B., and L. E. Hornig, eds. 1987. This Year in School Science 1986: The Science Curriculum. Washington, D.C.: American Association for the Ad- vancement of Science. Gardner, H. 1991. The Unschooled Mind. New York: BasicBooks. Glatthorn, A. A. 1994. Developing a Quality Curriculum. Alexandria, Va.: Associa- tion for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Harlen, W. S. 1989. Developing Science in the Primary Classroom. Portsmouth, N.FI.: Heinemann Educational Books, Inc. Loucks-Horsley, S., R. Kapitan, M. D. Carlson, P. I. Kuerbis, R. C. Clark, G. M. Melle, T. P. Sachse, and E. Walton. 1990. Elementary School Sciencefor the 'pus. Andover, Mass.: The NETWO1 - Inc., and Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Marzano, R J. 1992. A Different Rind of Classroom: Teaching with Dimensions of Learning. Alexandria, Va.: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. National Research Council. 1996. National Science Education Standards. Washing- ton, D.C.: National Academy Press. National Science Resources Center. 1996. Resources for Teaching Elementary School Science. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. 75