Reviewed by Lauralee Barton
At first glance, this book appears to be a resource specifically directed toward potential science teachers. It has the components necessary to instruct a novice not only on what to teach in these specific topics but how to teach; it embraces what is known today about student misconceptions and preconceived ideas. It also includes methodologies based on current research.
In this effort, the authors have done a thorough and conscientious job. There are cross references within the book from chapter to chapter as well as myriad suggestions from many reliable sources available online as well as in libraries and stores. For example, in chapters one and two there is a research-based framework that includes target topics and misconceptions, ways in which the teacher may approach remedying erroneous preconceptions, strategies for addressing these preconceptions, and ways in which students may demonstrate mastery of corrected concepts. Further, standards-based instructional approaches are given, which have shown successful outcomes for teaching these challenging topics.
There's also quite a bit in this book to benefit experienced teachers. A veteran might not use all aspects of chapters three to seven, but rather might pick and choose sections dealing with content areas for which their previous approaches have not achieved the desired outcomes and results. One of the most valuable sections includes suggestions for labs and activities that allow students to work alone or in groups to gather evidence that supports difficult concepts. For example, the materials and supplies necessary for photosynthesis labs are easily obtained or are available in a typical high school science lab. For veterans or new teachers alike, this makes the difference between including hands-on experience in the unit of study or not. There are other suggestions for activities, though, that may be more difficult, including internet access.
Unfortunately many veteran teachers still teach as they were taught and many secondary teachers can't assume that middle school topics were covered thoroughly. For those teachers, the format of this book may seem formidable and might be too overwhelming to tackle independently. Support from a professional group, a department, or a department head might make it more accessible. No matter what the situation, this resource would make a fine addition to the faculty library within a single school, at the media center of a school district, or in the educational section of a university library. If the book were a required text for a methods class for teaching the sciences at the high school level, it would undoubtably remain a valued asset on the classroom shelf for years to come.
Review posted on 9/28/2009