From the Editor's Desk
Little did I know when this issue’s theme was chosen that the world would be in the midst of a global pandemic when publication time arrived. News agencies now report little else as the virus takes hold and hijacks our communities and schools. Teachers across the United States have been thrust into the world of online teaching while at the same time grappling with disrupted family lives and the very real threat of becoming ill with a virus for which there is no vaccine. Although scientists are working around the clock to understand how to combat this enemy, a number of scientific studies related to COVID-19 and its cures have been retracted due to poor or erroneous research. If adults themselves are challenged to discern good research from bad, how can we use this moment as a catalyst for improving our teaching?
By middle school, students are expected to be able to “gather, read, synthesize information from multiple appropriate sources and assess the credibility, accuracy, and possible bias of each publication and methods used, and describe how they are supported or not supported by evidence” (NGSS Lead States 2013). We can teach students how to evaluate information by having them check sources and gather evidence from multiple places. Alternatively, the use of sites such as Science News for Students, ReadWorks, and Smithsonian’s TweenTribute can provide teachers with vetted articles about recent research and current events, most of which are handily identified by Lexile score. Science Daily, although not specifically designed for K–12, features the latest in research news.
Even in nonpandemic times, there are many ways that current events can be incorporated into the classroom. Current events can be used as an introductory phenomenon to a problem, can support a claim, or can be utilized to provide students with an engineering task. Connecting the science classroom to the real world through current events will no doubt spark student engagement while developing scientific literacy—a winning combination!
Editor, Science Scope
NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
TweenTribune, a free K–12 resource for teachers—https://www.tweentribune.com/
Science News for Students—https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/
Patty McGinnis is a former middle school teacher and long-time member of NSTA. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @patty_mcginnis.