Reviewed by Rebecca Bell
Environmental Education Specialist
This book presents a framework for teaching through explanation–driven science. The framework, abbreviated CER, involves four steps: Claim, Evidence, Reasoning, and Rebuttal. The steps and rationale for each step in the framework are given, along with classroom examples from life, Earth, and physical sciences.
The claim is defined as the statement or conclusion that answers the original question or problem. For example, students may make a series of observations and from those observations develop a claim. The claim seems to take on the role of a hypothesis or a prediction. Students are required to use evidence to support their claim. The emphasis on using and presenting evidence to support the claim is the core of the framework and supports the concept that science requires evidence, not opinion.
Students then proceed to the reasoning stage. At this point, they must verbalize how their evidence supports the claim. The final component, rebuttal, is suggested for middle and high school students. Students supply alternate explanations to the claim based on evidence.
Each of the steps must be taught. How is a good claim written? How much evidence is needed? What types of evidence are needed? What scientific principle supports your reasoning? The remaining chapters of the book outline ways to plan a coherent explanation–driven science lesson, discuss the roles of writing and talking about science, and explain how to integrate scientific explanation into the classroom. A number of vignettes are presented within the text to illustrate lesson delivery. The final chapters address the development of assessment tasks and rubrics and how to foster a community of young scientists. Each chapter ends with discussion questions so that a study group of teachers can work together to learn and implement the framework. A DVD accompanies the book, with actual unedited classroom examples of parts of the framework in action, assessment, and the impact of teaching for explanations.
Review posted on 10/10/2012