Reviewed by Adah Stock
Master Teacher and a Science Education Consultant
Scientific argumentation is a way of knowing about science. "The Nature of Science" from Science for All Americans states: “The means used to develop these ideas [interconnected and validated] are particular ways of observing, thinking, experimenting, and validating. These ways represent a fundamental aspect of the nature of science and reflect how science tends to differ from other modes of knowing.” After reading the introduction to this volume, it is clear why scientific argumentation is needed in our schools so that students understand that science is not just a memorization of facts and theories created by scientists who do experiments.
The goal of this volume is to help teachers help students learn how to know about science. This volume tackles this task by introducing a framework both explained and illustrated in the introductory chapter of this volume. The authors have provided thirty classroom activities equally divided into three sections in the book. The first section is called "Generate an Argument." There are five stages within this section that are explained in great detail. The second section is called "Evaluate Alternative Instructional Models." This has six stages, also explained in detail. The last section is called "Refutational Writing Activities."
The role of the teacher in this whole process is very important as a facilitator to student group work—encouraging them, guiding them, and coaching them. To make that easier the authors have provided two charts that explain the role of the teacher through each stage in section one and section two of this book. The charts break down what a teacher should and should not do. As an educator you are encouraged to include several of these lessons over the course of a year. The activities are not meant to replace the curriculum but to supplement the curriculum.
As you scan through the activities you see the same pattern repeat. Each activity starts out with student pages. This is then followed by "Teacher Notes." The Teacher Notes section includes: a purpose; the content and related content of the lesson; curriculum and instructional considerations; recommendations for implementing the activity; assessment; the standards addressed by the activity; and references.
The activities address the dimensions outlined in A Framework for K–12 Science Education (NRC 2012) and include science, writing, and speaking. The volume ends with a chapter about assessment and includes student samples rated low, medium, and high with teacher feedback in each sample. The volume concludes with five appendixes. Since each of the activities was field tested, those teachers and school are acknowledged. Three of the appendixes are rubrics for each of the three major sections. The last provides the reader with two options for implementing the section called "Generate an Argument" and for "Implementing the Refutational Writing Activities." The index at the conclusion of the book is thorough.
After reviewing this volume I am definitely impressed with the quality of the book. Developing the next generation's understanding of science and learning skills needed to construct, support, evaluate, and challenge scientific claims from others is a valuable tool for developing higher order thinking skills, reasoning, and preparing students for the future. The layout of this volume makes it teacher–friendly. I believe this volume should be in the hands of any high school science teacher as part of their tools for teaching.
Review posted on 3/14/2013