Reviewed by Caroline Goode
Middle School Teacher
Help! I'm Teaching Middle School Science is a must for preservice, new, and veteran teachers! The authors, two experienced middle school teachers, have provided a no-nonsense handbook that covers everything from first-day icebreakers to reproducible forms and “recipes.”
Elementary and middle school teachers all too often find themselves faced with the insurmountable task of teaching science without proper training for classroom management, hands-on activities, and inquiry-based lessons. I have to admit that my own first year of teaching science was intimidating, and I used a day-by-day survival approach. I would have given anything to have a complete, practical reference tool like this one.
For example, the book outlines the advantages of cooperative learning and suggests five great grouping methods: random selection, grouping by strengths, coed grouping, student choice, and ability grouping. If you’ve ever wondered how to cover lab set-up and safety, check out Chapter 4. There are ideas for getting materials from local pharmacies, high school science departments, and parents. Chapter 7 provides directions for adapting labs to make them more inquiry-based, suggestions for modifying activities for special needs and ESL students, and a handy checklist for keeping lab areas safe, organized, and clean.
Informational tables throughout the book establish classroom rules, illustrate sample rubrics, and identify relevant National Science Education Standards. I especially appreciated the emphasis given to putting safety first--something that is often overlooked when assigning a new teacher of science. The reproducible tests and forms include a great lab safety quiz, lab report forms, parent notice forms, and metric measurement charts.
The authors remind us that “middle school students are unique individuals with specific needs educators must meet if they are going to help them achieve their fullest potential.” The seven developmental needs endorsed by The National Middle School Association are clearly defined, and the table of National Science Education Standards will be especially helpful for beginning teachers.
The authors have done an excellent job of writing a useful, helpful handbook for all teachers of science, not just middle school teachers. Help! I’m Teaching Middle School Science is chock full of ideas, hints, and examples for every teacher of science whether they are new to teaching or 20-year veterans.
Review posted on 5/21/2003