Many new teachers enter the classroom armed with little more than a diploma, certificate, and small collection of specific skills. What a professional really needs to survive and thrive in the classroom comes more often from the advice and support of peers. That's why an association like NSTA, and a collection of great tips from its members (like the ones in this book) are so valuable.
This collection of articles on science education methods from NSTA's journals will occupy a special place on any teacher's personal shelf. It gives highly practical descriptions of inquiry labs appropriate to K-12 on almost every area of science (everything from egg bungee jumps to primary lessons on light). The descriptions of how to implement valuable tools like stations and literature circles will be appreciated. Summaries of best practices in assessment and even homework can help build confidence that what we are doing really works.
Other sections of the book are likely to raise the consciousness of teachers and encourage reflection. A number of articles on building community examine the pace, quality, and quantity of conversation in the classroom. How students question, and when they answer, are all keys to the inquiry environment. Techniques like the 5 Es Model, KWL, and an Eight-Step Method to Great Group Work are all great for casual reading and self-improvement.
In a sense, this book is like a community "Taste Fest" designed to introduce members to what valuable treasures they might find in other NSTA resources. The articles by Page Keeley and Francis Eberle on formative assessment provide a nice sample of what readers will find in the authors' best-selling books on the topic. And samples of the unique approach of NSTA author Bill Robertson are bound to lead readers to his Stop Faking It! series.
This is an ideal collection for preservice teachers. But my instinct tells me that such tips and reflections are even more meaningful once you've "been there, done that" in a classroom. It's easy to imagine a teacher setting a personal professional development goal (in the spirit of the National Science Education Standards) to read and reflect on a chapter a week--preferably over coffee with a valued peer. That's the best way to appreciate the richness of this collection and the value of networking within our profession.