What can teachers do who are provided only traditional instructional materials?
Teachers who want their students to learn to inquire and to learn through inquiry are hampered if their materials are text-based and focus students on memorizing scientific laws and terminology. However, a teacher’s curriculum is not defined by the materials alone, but more broadly by what students focus their attention on, how they learn, and how and on what they are assessed. Teachers can use the Standards to determine goals for
their students and decide which pieces of their materials they can use to help students reach those goals. They can consider decreasing the “cookbook” nature of whatever “labs” or hands-on activities are included with their materials and resequencing them to come before the readings or lectures so students can explore in a concrete may before learning the concepts and terms. Teachers can emphasize learning the major concepts and downplay the vocabulary. They can reconstruct test items to assess major science concepts, inquiry abilities, and understandings about inquiry; they can create one full and open inquiry for students to conduct for several weeks of class. And they can supplement the materials they are given with other materials they receive in professional development or from colleagues, or locate on the Web. The important thing is to determine a set of learning goals for students that reflect the Standards and let those guide how and what students learn. The next question provides ideas about non-text materials.
Where can teachers get the equipment, materials, and supplies they need to teach through inquiry?
The National Science Foundation (NSF) has supported the development and field testing of a number of