Reviewed by Rebecca Bell
Environmental Education Specialist
This is a set of ten lessons created to complement the DVD of the same name (sold separately and as a set with the book). Each of the ten lessons is tied to a video segment of about 8–15 minutes. Four major themes unite the lessons: Evidence of Common Ancestry and Diversity, Natural Selection, Adaptation, and Biodiversity and Human Effects.
Bybee’s introduction outlines the reasons to teach evolution, including the fact that evolution is the cornerstone theory of modern biology, and that students, in considering whether to get the next flu shot, will have practical knowledge as well. He notes the controversy around discussions of evolution and, in fact, one lesson is devoted to examining the conflict. The objective of the lesson is to have students learn to listen to multiple viewpoints, though it is hoped that the emphasis would be placed on distinguishing scientific evidence from personal belief. The lessons are clearly written and are in the 5E model. A brief explanation of the 5E model is given for those not familiar with the format. The lesson topics include an introduction to the basic concept of evolution and a look at Charles Darwin’s history and thought process in devising the Theory of Evolution. Concepts and content are reviewed in lessons about natural selection, the origin of variations, the role of cooperation and the question of randomness of the evolutionary process.
A lesson entitled “A Brief History of Life” engages student in creating a geologic timeline upon which species are placed as per the fossil record. The final lesson addresses the question of why we should care about evolution. The answer is to help us understand the workings of nature so that we may live more sustainably. Teachers can use the book as a short course, as activities to complement the regular curriculum, or as a jumping off point for student research questions. A list of useful resources and references is included. Three appendices present excerpts from Jean Lamarck, Alfred Russel Wallace, and Darwin which could make an incredible reading lesson. The lessons as a group are useful in helping students understand the major concepts of evolution.
Review posted on 4/25/2012