Reviewed by Adah Stock
Master Teacher and a Science Education Consultant
This book provides a step-by-step guide for integrating reading skills into a life science curriculum for middle school students. The first few chapters explain the skills and strategies reading teachers use to help students better understand what they are reading, and the third tells what science is all about. Within this chapter, there is a rubric that students can apply to their experiments; it helps them justify the connections between their conclusions and data, just as scientists do. The remaining 12 chapters contain reading prompts that cover various biological topics such as cells, genes, plant structure, the human body, food chains, classification, adaptation, evolution, and more. Each reading prompt is no longer than three pages and includes graphics.
The titles for the reading selections are catchy. For example, "The Case of the Tree Hit Man" is about plant structure; it's only two pages long and is followed by a question-and-answer section called "Plant Police Academy." Students must answer questions and draw diagrams to explain what they read. At the end of each section, students complete a graphic organizer that includes a phrase bank for the empty boxes. Other chapters include a game or simple lab activities.
What is most about exciting about this book are the classroom-ready reading prompts with activities and the manner in which the author sets the stage for each prompt. Students are reminded at the beginning of easy readings to code the passage as they read with the following marks: ! if a statement is important, V if they knew that piece of information, X if the information is different from what they thought, and ? if they don’t understand something. Each chapter begins with a teacher section that provides background rationale. For example, in the chapter called "Healing Powers," students view a short video clip that shows what a scientist would see under the microscope. Each teacher section also includes a materials list, the names of the student pages, exploration/pre-reading, reading strategies, journal questions, application/post-reading, and a reference. It couldn’t be easier for a science teacher.
All the activities are indexed through NSTA's SciLinks and follow the National Science Education Standards for grades 5–8. The end of the book includes a comprehensive index of both science content and reading skills and strategies. Everything is provided for a science teacher in one package that can be inserted into any district curriculum and will, more importantly, help students read better in science and all disciplines. It is a win-win situation and it is obvious this is a great tool for any middle school science teacher. What a great combination of reading and science!
Review posted on 7/20/2010