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REVIEWS

All Reviews By: Tina (Fairmount, IN)



Outdoor Ecology School
Journal Article
Grade Level: High School
Cross grade and community interactions!
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on January 3, 2015
  This teacher set up an outdoor field day for high schoolers to work with elementary students with a twist - stations that taught ecology and relationships while still being fun. While some stations taught more "traditional" science like macro-invertebrate identification or looking for populations in quadrants, others played games that showed predator prey relationships or other concepts and helped to use of energy that elementary students come to school with. In addition, the community was invited to join as well. So many positive connections in a single day!

Idea Bank: Electronic BeeSpace
Journal Article
Grade Level: High School
Extremely Flexible Resource!
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on January 3, 2015
  The Electronic BeeSpace website described in this article seems to be adaptable to a variety of teaching purposes and this article is designed to help teachers maximize their use of the site. In addition to long video clips of various topics related to research and biotechnology that might be useful for STEM integration, each of these have been broken down into smaller segments that can be used in addition or on their own to emphasize various points. Because of this flexibility, the site is not isolated for use in only high school but parts could be integrated into middle school curriculum and easily into undergraduate biology coursework. A very useful resource!

Something’s Fishy in Paxton Lake
Journal Article
Grade Level: College
Case Study in speciation
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on January 2, 2015
  This case study demonstrates to students that speciation is an on-going process today as it has been in the past. This particular example is mentioned in the NOVA program What Darwin Never Knew, so this would be a good activity to do with students prior to showing all or a portion of this video about how our knowledge of evolution has expanded and evolved over time. I would do this with either high school or undergraduate biology or environmental science classes.

Inspired by Real Science: Biomedical Engineering for Breast Cancer Research in the Classroom
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Inspired by Real Science: Biomedical Engin
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 29, 2014
  Students construct models of breasts to help them in a discussion of causes and treatments of breast cancer. This is an important topic that can be integrated in science classes that also teach health. Materials are inexpensive and provides links to additional resources.

The Big Break: A Module on Biomedical Engineering Principles and Medical Devices
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: The Big Break: A module on biomedical engi
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 29, 2014
  This is an interesting engineering challenge for students, to create a brace for a model of broken bone. It links structure and function from the point of view of different stakeholders to encourage students to see the problem in different ways. It may be hard to link to the curriculum in science unless your program links science and health.

Watch Your Step
Journal Article
Grade Level: College
Logical way to introduce Environmental Footprint
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 29, 2014
  This article provides some interesting information concerning how the concept of Environmental Footprint were developed and how and why Biosphere II collapsed. I saw a lot of information and links that tie the two concepts together in a logical and clever way. I would not present this lesson in this manner but I do like the overall set up and would use this in my APES class to generate discussion on sustainability, as the author suggests.

Home Connections: Counting Populations
Journal Article
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
Simple Sampling gives meaning to using math
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 29, 2014
  This article provides a way to show students how sampling works and is a great way to show a use for finding a mean. I would follow this with taking my classes outside and taking samples of either twine circles or meter square sections of the school yard for, say, the number of insects or weeds or some other common plant present and then using the data to again find the mean of the sample. This might make an especially good discussion during election time.

Field Surveys of Amphibian Populations
Journal Article
Grade Level: College
Benefits of Students Doing Field Research
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 24, 2014
  This article presents the design of a course for undergraduates on how to conduct field research. While the focus is on amphibians, the course design could be easily modifies to study other populations as well. The description of how the author integrated this and the suggestions that this could be integrated into other college environmental classes is helpful. But this could also be incorporated in high school biology or environmental classes as well, where the school has access to nearby areas that could be used as research areas.

Sickle Cell Disease: Relating Community Health and Heredity
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Sickle Cell Disease: Relating Community
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 24, 2014
  This article ties a community health issue into a discussion on the role of heredity in some illnesses. The authors present a number of potential problems with dealing with illnesses of this sort and thoughtful ways to address them so that students look at them objectively even if they have personal experiences with this illness. They use a case-study lesson style to help students to "discover" the type of illness in the patient, find out the consequences and ways that the illness is treated and along the way probe students for misconceptions so that they can be addressed. Well developed lesson design that could be adapted to look at different illnesses as well in a middle level or higher classroom.

No Ordinary Coronary
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: No Ordinary Coronary
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 24, 2014
  The lesson described in this article helps students to better understand how arteries may be clogged and lead to heart attacks, how stents might be used to alleviate this problem, and how plaque in arteries can lead to other problems like strokes through the use of an inquiry lesson where students try to unblock a model artery. They tied this to NGSS by using it as a vehicle to examine the role of systems and how they are interconnected. I would not only recommend this for middle school, I shared it with the teacher at the high school teaching biomedicine as well.

Gone, Gone from the Range
Journal Article
Grade Level: College
Role of Key Predator on ecosystem
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 18, 2014
  This is an interesting case study based on actual fieldwork. The instructor uses it in a biology course for non-majors but this could be adapted to a high school biology or ecology class. I have seen similar studies on the effects of removing wolves from various environments that had similar results and pairing this with the research coming out of Yellowstone on how reintroduction of the wolves not only repaired their predator prey relationships but also helped fix some stream degradation issues that had been perplexing foresters in that region would show the not only the complexity of the interactions within food webs but also of the environment as a whole (both biotic and abiotic components).

Favorite Demonstration: Demonstrating an Interactive Genetic Drift Exercise
Journal Article
Grade Level: College
Simple way to make a point!
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 18, 2014
  This activity has each student with a card containing their "genotype" "mating" with random students as they move about the room to see how the genotypes of the children change over time. This is a simple and easy way to help students to actively see the results of several generations on average genotypes and to see how changes can result even without mutations through natural processes. Could be used in upper middle level class, high school or undergraduate biology or ecology.

Forestry 101
Journal Article
Grade Level: High School
Applying ecology and management
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 18, 2014
  This lesson has students not only surveying a school owned woodland but also making management decisions concerning its care (what trees should be culled, what is the value of the lot, etc.). This would be great in an environmental science course at the high school or undergraduate level and with some modifications, some of the activities could be done by middle schoolers, as well. There are suggested community tie-ins as well.

Farm to Table and Beyond: Helping Students Make Sense of the Global Food System
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Introducing students to their "footprint"
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 17, 2014
  This lesson encourages students to think about how food is produced and how it gets packaged in a way that allows us to store it safely. In the process it provides a means for teachers to encourage students to think about the energy and chemicals that go into producing their food. With adequate supplemental material this would be a good engagement activity for high school students studying human "footprints" in the carbon cycle. The weblink has changed to http://blogs.tc.columbia.edu/cfe/education/nutrition-curriculum/farm-to-table-beyond/ for the resource materials listed.

Cell Towers and Songbirds
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Science and Citizenship
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 17, 2014
  This lesson presents student with a authentic issue to discuss and debate on whether cell phone towers help or hurt an environment. I like using authentic issues with my students as it provides them with a sense that what they are learning is useful outside of school. This activity could be used at a variety of grade levels

Cell Towers and Songbirds
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Science and Citizenship
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 17, 2014
  This lesson presents student with a authentic issue to discuss and debate on whether cell phone towers help or hurt an environment. I like using authentic issues with my students as it provides them with a sense that what they are learning is useful outside of school. This activity could be used at a variety of grade levels

Teaching Science Using Stories: The Storyline Approach
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Science as a story
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 8, 2014
  I love telling stories to my middle school students - I get all dramatic with them while I discuss Archimedes streakin' down the streets of Syracuse - so I liked this article. I was a little concerned about making things up for the story, it makes it sound like science isn't interesting enough without adding fiction. But I guess I, too, add some to my stories to fill in the gaps. Students actually like the stories - I always stop before the end of the "streaker story" and don't finish it unless asked - I make them ASK me to teach them science (so exciting, that!). (Brahe and the silver nose are also VERY popular). Makes scientists (and science) more human and less scary. Highly recommend adding this to one's teaching repertoire.

Designing Payloads
Journal Article
Grade Level: Elementary School
STEM PBL
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 8, 2014
  Wow - two buzz words at once! Yet both are fairly covered in this article. Through the use of a PBL theme of learning about space, students are led through a series of lessons to learn the skills they needed to design a box to go up in space. I like the university tie-in, however, I attended a session at an NSTA conf. where companies also walk you through the process as well of preparing and launching balloons. Fantastic at any age, with appropriate goals and lessons.

What College Science Faculty Can Learn About Change: The K-16 Continuum—Viewing School Teachers as Partners in Change
Journal Article
Grade Level: College
Seeing learning as K-16
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 8, 2014
  The author advises college professors to consider researching their own instruction to see what is working and what is not. She also suggests that scientists who teach consider participating in a CTL (or SOTL). For my part, as a graduate student I could clearly see which professors had some training in designing instruction and which did not - those that "taught as they always taught" without realizing that students don't actually think the way they used to. This article is dated, it is from 1999 before the days of cellphones growing out of hands, the advice offered is still valid - maybe more so than when it was written as research may be showing our technology really is changing how our students think and analyze information. (Pew Foundation Survey Data http://www.pewinternet.org/2012/02/29/main-findings-teens-technology-and-human-potential-in-2020/ )

Editor’s Note: Force and Motion—Complex, Awesome, Relevant
Journal Article
Grade Level: Elementary School
Finding facination in forces
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 8, 2014
  This editorial seeks to motivate teachers to consider ways to make force and motion interesting and relevant to students. She points out that even though we may know the formulas and theories behind how things move, that doesn't make the movements any less interesting. Something we should all keep in mind as we plan lessons to hook student's interest, it is all about the presentation as well as the content we seek to share.

Vision + Community = Outdoor Learning Stations
Journal Article
Grade Level: Elementary School
Outlines a process to creation of stations
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 8, 2014
  This article presents one school's plan and journey to creating outdoor classroom spaces that meet a variety of learning needs. I like how they didn't just focus on science but on interdisciplinary uses of the area they had available. One thing different about this article, is that it proposes using a multi-year plan with smaller goals leading up to a larger final goal instead of trying to do everything at once. They mention how that provides the funders with evidence of progress and hopefully some sense of stewardship as well to continue to support their efforts. Any grade level looking into outdoor stations should check out this information.

Collaboration with Community Partners
Journal Article
Grade Level: High School
Problem based learning with support
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 7, 2014
  This article presents a lesson that has students engaged in a problem-based learning scenario that is supplemented and supported by bringing in members of the community (in this case police detectives and an auto mechanic). I have done this as well, in my case it was a forensic unit, and both parties were also enthusiastic about the interactions. I highly recommend integrating this type of lesson for any age student - the students get excited about the science and the community members provide a positive review of learning back to the community as a result!

Everyday Engineering: If It's Engineered, Is It Wood?
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: ...Is it wood?
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 5, 2014
  If it's engineered, is it wood? This articles provides students with an intriguing question that their parents may also share, how much of the "wood" we use is straight from the tree and how much is manufactured? Why would altered wood products be more useful in various situations? And it does it by hooking students with a look at skateboards - how and why they are designed the way they are. The article presents a directed inquiry activity but also has suggestions for ways to allow students to take more responsibility for experimental design. While I read it I thought about ways I introduce similar ideas with making towers or bridges from newspaper, and maybe that would be a good introduction to these lessons as well. This could be done with students from intermediate to high school, depending on the course aims and student abilities.

Guest Editorial: NGSS Case Studies: Economically Disadvantaged Students Developing Conceptual Models
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: NGSS Case Studies w/ eco disadv stdts
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 5, 2014
  This article discusses the use of case studies to aid in students developing their own models of scientific concepts. However, the methods that are focused on; the use of a case study/story to develop interest, developing a sense of place or ownership of the question, and project based learning should be included in lessons for all students when possible. As an introduction to a set of case-studies it does a wonderful job of showing how to get our students involved in learning how science is applied in every-day life and how we can teach that.

Teaching Teachers: Day of Science
Journal Article
Grade Level: Elementary School
college - school connections
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on December 5, 2014
  This article provides information on how one pre-service teachers at a local college arranged a "science fair" day with a local elementary school. Enough information is provided for anyone wanting to do something similar and suggestions for alternative partners other than colleges is provided. Helpful to anyone who is interested in setting up a science day/science fair as it has good suggestions on organization.

Volunteer Scientist-in-the-Classroom Partnership in Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Instructions on how to set things in motion
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on November 17, 2014
  I have heard of and read about several scientist in the classroom programs. I like this article because they take the time to point out some strategies on how to set things up, delineate roles for teachers and scientists so each is comfortable in their responsibilities and knows what the other will be doing, and because it lists suggestions of what the scientists can do to be effective and make a difference. While the article comes from the point of view of the college, publishing it here provides teachers and principals with the information they could present to local colleges and universities to encourage them to cooperate to set up a local program. Worth the read and the effort for both college and k12 school personnel

There Go Those Kids In Nature
Journal Article
Grade Level: Elementary School
Interesting idea for school outreach
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on November 17, 2014
  This article provides enough detail to set up a similar program with a local nature reserve. None of the websites for KIN are currently active, but a search will bring up additional information on the program and its impact. This would make a great PBL activity in conjunction with community resources or maybe even a state or national park.

Science Sampler: An introduction to water pressure
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
A simple way to provide students experience
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on November 17, 2014
  This is a simple way to help students understand pressure and a possible extension would be to tie it into air pressure and the reason why air pressure decreases as one goes higher in the atmosphere, that is how I have generally used this activity in my classes. I like the idea of having a water source and a place where one can let the water pour, but as we do not have a pool, I think I would check with other teachers to see if someone had a wading pool we could borrow and do this activity outside in the grass. Great activity to help students to create their own model of the process of pressure, either water or air.

Science Sampler: Giants don’t exist in the real world—Challenges of teaching scale and structure
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Problems with scales
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on November 17, 2014
  The authors point out that students don't always recognize how numbers are used to represent different scales of sizes in science. They suggest a couple resources and one lesson idea. I think pointing out where students might encounter misconceptions is helpful for teachers to keep in mind as they teach concepts that involve numbered scales of various kinds.

Science Sampler: Motivating middle school students to monitor and assess their learning
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Putting testing to a good use
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on November 17, 2014
  This instructor uses tests as a diagnostic tool to identify areas in which individual students need assistance, provides them that assistance, and allows them to retake the test when they have completed additional instruction. Because the test is used to help students to identify and work on areas they need help, they do not see the tests as punishment but instead as a means to learn. Good idea if the materials are available or the time is to design the materials. If not, variations can be designed to meet the same goal of diagnosing weak conceptions and helping students to strengthen understanding.

Creative Natural Selection
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Interesting way to get students to make models
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on November 3, 2014
  I like the idea of having students take an organism and transplant it to another locale and then predict how it might evolve over time to better adapt. My classes look at adaptations for environments and biomes, but I have not tried that extension and it sounds like a creative way to get them to think about natural selection. Maybe they would have to do it by generation, since we generally also do heredity before biomes. I can't wait to try this variation out.

Cookie Tectonics: An Introduction to Earth Hazards and Tectonic Fundamentals
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Cookie Tectonics
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 27, 2014
  I do something very similar with my classes. In addition to the modeling and the chart, I have my students draw block diagrams as well (and have some run off for those who cannot draw to choose from and paste into their chart). I think I might also have students take photos with their phones, if I do this activity this year, so they have that record as well. A great activity that my students remember long after they leave my class (and remind me of) so I think it does actually get their attention!

Teacher's Toolkit: Scientific Explanations and Arguments: Understanding Their Nature Through Historical Examples
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Understanding Their Nature Through Histori
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 27, 2014
  Give yourself time to read slowly and to reflect while you read this article - it is worth the effort! This article provides a well-developed explanation of the role of scientific argumentation in actual science research. It is a case study of how three seminal papers presented research and developed arguments for the scientific community to defend their claims and results and why they did what they did. A "peek" of a student project using similar methods is provided at the end, but even though this doesn't present an actual lesson, it provides the background information for teachers to DEFEND teaching this aspect of science - and in the process a glimpse into what it might be like if students and the general public understood how science theories are developed. I highly recommend this article for secondary methods students and teachers who value and seek to truly understand science at all levels.

Scope on Safety: Storing STEM Projects Safely
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Storing STEM Projects Safely
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 26, 2014
  I love to do projects with my students - they are excited to do them and I get excited about the creativity they show - things I would never have considered but turn out fascinating! This article provides a handy list of things to keep in mind for the safety of students, teachers and of the projects! Anyone at any level could use this as a checklist of what to keep in mind before you begin.

Generating, Evaluating, and Modifying Scientific Models Using Projected Computer Simulations
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Generating, Evaluating, and Modifying Sci
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 26, 2014
  The authors present a model lesson for teachers on how to effectively use an online simulation tool in a classroom situation. They explain how to assist students in developing their own models of gas behaviors and identify areas where students can be guided out of misconceptions. I would have liked to have seen more definitive assessment of student understanding at the end of the lesson, but I would use this lesson with my own assessments, it is similar to some I have used prior to online simulations.

Model Synergy: Combining Classic Modeling Practices and Digital Simulations to Augment Deeper Conceptual Understanding
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Tite: Model Synergy: Combining classic modeling
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 26, 2014
  The NGSS emphasizes allowing students to generate their own mental and physical models of phenomena to help them to own the knowledge. The author provides a means to combine physical modeling using paper molecules and kinetic models with projected simulations to add animation to help students to see abstract concepts like how sugar dissolves in water. While this method seems to take a bit more time, for some topics like this and how changes of state affect volume and density, if students could truly visualize these it would make so many other topics like reactions rates or convection much easier to teach at a later time. It also fulfills the first thing mentioned, allowing students to develop personal models that are scientifically accurate.

Lakes Alive!
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Connecting with scientists
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 26, 2014
  The authors do a great job of sharing an inquiry unit on lakes and providing ideas for how to integrate scientists in the classroom curriculum.This particular authentic inquiry emphasizes how the bottom of lakes supports a lake ecosystem as much as the top - that it is all part of a whole. While this article focuses on exploring frozen lakes during northern winters, similar studies can be done on any lake with the aid of a boats, like one of the schools near me does with a pond on their property. Great for middle level and older students with adequate supervision.

Meeting the MOON from a Global Perspective
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
International Project for students
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 20, 2014
  "More Observations Of Nature" is a web-based project where students interact with others from around the country or the world to share information on how they observe the moon over a period of time. The current website @ http://www.worldmoonproject.org/ provides contact information, a teacher guide, and student guide. Great for helping students to learn to recognize patterns in nature.

Should We Continue Space Travel? A Technology-Supported Approach to Engaging Students
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Great way to get students to reflect on learning!
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 20, 2014
  The author describes how she integrated blog-based discussions of topics her class was discussing concerning our understanding of space and the state of the space exploration program. Students completed a final project where they had to justify their suggestions on how NASA should or should not continue the space program. With a few additions, this could easily be integrated in a NGSS-based curriculum and definitely addresses CCLA.

How Low Can You Go?: Interdisciplinary Student-Impact Investigations for Environmental Awareness and Sustainability
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
title: How Low Can You Go?: Interdisciplinary Stu
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  This article looks at waste and how to get our students to consider their impact on the environment. A number of lesson ideas are presented and resources to assist teachers in addressing issues of sustainability, waste management, and ecologicl footprints. The information here could be used at any level, but much of the materials focus on secondary standards.

Connect the Spheres with the Coal Cycle
Journal Article
Grade Level: High School
Lots of resources
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  This article does not really present any lesson ideas, it focuses on topics and resources for using coal as the means to demonstrate how carbon can cycle through the earth's spheres (with some human help). Some of the resources might be more applicable to an environmental science class, since they focus on the results of coal mining on the land, air, and water, and not on the carbon itself. As a source of references, it is a varied and very useful resource for teachers at any level.

The Great Dinosaur Feud: Science Against All Odds
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Great tie-in to CCLA and argumentation
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  This article presents a unit on feuding paleontologists in a way that encourages students to examine claims and evidence in a non-scientific (but still true to the concept) manner by looking at the acts of the scientists and putting them on trial. The students have to prepare letters of either indictment or support drawing on the evidence, a LA tie-in. And, while the authors focus on this argument, there are many other conflicts in other areas of science that could be equally examined (Meyer vs Mendeleev, Kepler vs Brahe, Darwin vs Russell-Wallace, etc.) There are all kinds of examples of the human nature of scientific endeavors to draw on. The structure of this lesson could be adapted to any of them (although they might not be as exciting!).

Eureka!Causal Thinking About Molecules and Matter
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Eureka! Causal Thinking about Molecules an
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  This article presents a unit designed to help students to visualize a rather complex process, that of how things mix based on molecular motion at the nano-scale. Much of the article references online resources available at the Science Scope site http://www.nsta.org/middleschool/connections.aspx . The article makes assumptions concerning the ability of students to interact politely as "scientists" at the time this lesson is presented, and if that is something in which the students in a class still need additional training, anticipate this unit lasting a little longer than described. For classes that are already familiar with acting like a scientific community and with CER, this article has all the information to allow you to apply it. For those who are just starting out, leave time in your schedule to teach those concepts and consider teaching this unit because this is an excellent lesson combining digital simulations to student hands-on experiences and conversations!

Teacher's Toolkit: Scientific Explanations and Arguments: Supporting Students With Explicit Reasoning in Argumentation
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Teacher's Toolkit: Scientific Explanations
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  Title: Supporting students with explicit reasoning in arguments. This article does a wonderful job of explaining precisely what a claim, evidence and reasoning are so that teachers can explain them to their students. The examples are also very clear. Several strategies are presented to help students to develop claims, back them with evidence, and combine the evidence to produce reasoned statements. I would recommend this article to any teacher who is starting out with this process as an-going reference, when you are comfortable with one of the strategies presented, you can move on to another!

Scope on Safety: Safety in Numbers
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Scope on Safety: Safety in Numbers
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  It is nice to know that NSTA supports teachers by publishing information that we can use to defend our suggestions to administrators that science labs be limited in enrollment. This provides summaries of two Topic Papers that can be printed and presented to those in charge of scheduling to show how dangerous overcrowding is and their liability in the event of an accident. They also provide teachers with information on personal liability as well, so that lessons can be structured in such a way as to protect the teacher from accusations of carelessness. Important reads and resources at any level.

Tried and True: What's the Matter? Looking Beyond the Macroscopic
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Tried and True: What's the Matter? Looking
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  The authors present an inquiry lesson that encourages students to form their own model for an atom, molecule and mixture. I have used a similar lesson with my students to introduce the differences between elements and compounds and I have done lessons where students generated their own models, but I had not thought to combine them before like this. This could even be extended later to encourage students to develop a model for the Law of Conservation of Matter through developing chemical equations. Nice lesson idea for middle and high school!

Moving Ahead With Alternate Conceptions
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Moving Ahead With Alternate Conceptions Mo
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  This article provides resources that can be referenced for information on common student alternative conceptions. It then discusses ways to use knowledge of these to guide practice and curriculum. They suggested taking the alternative/misconception and making a statement that students agree or disagree with and then provide the reason for their choice, but the process used was not clearly stated. Still, the references alone make this a useful article for teachers interested in designing their own formative pre-assessments.

Popular Science Nonfiction and the Connection Between Literacy and the NGSS
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Popular Science Nonfiction and the Connect
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  I love to include books in my curriculum (both fiction and non-fiction). And while having students use video to share science content is not new, this article puts a new twist by incorporating video book reports. I can see how this could empower shy students to express themselves. It also anchors science to the "real world" outside the classroom. Good rubrics and reference materials are provided. Great lesson!

Including Often-Missed Knowledge and Skills in Science Assessments
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Including Often-Missed Knowledge and Skill
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  This research-based article presents a lesson planning tool that incorporates a way to perform performance-based formative assessment. The example provided is not inquiry or hands-on, but I believe this approach could be incorporated as a part of an inquiry lesson plan. It is linked to additional resources outside of NSTA. It does generate higher-order thinking questions for assessment and could be used at any level.

Gearing Up for Engineering
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Gearing up for Engineering
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  This presents a detailed science unit on gears. Students design and construct machines to investigate the properties of gears. There are strong connections with CCLA. To better address the engineering practices at the end of this unit I would recommend student groups all address a specific Engineering Design Practice challenge, but it certainly addresses the science components.

Just Do It! Performance Tasks in the Science Classroom
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Just Do It! Performance Tasks in the Scien
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 13, 2014
  The authors walk you through the process of 1) locating quality hands-on activities for your classroom; 2) locating NGSS standards and comparing them to the activity to find one that fits; and 2) locating rubrics to grade the activity or advise on how to find sample rubrics. They also provide an example of the process. Not a quick read, but it contains a lot of useful and detailed information!

Assessing Student Progress Along a Solar System Learning Progression
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Assessing Student Progress Along a Solar S
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 6, 2014
  A construct map looks at natural breaks or levels of understanding for students as they develop their conceptual understanding of a new science concept. The authors have developed several of these "rubrics" (instruments) and use them to see where their students are during pre and post-tests on astronomy topics. This article explains how they developed them and how they can be used. A link is provided for additional information and "maps" for teacher use. However, they leave assessment development to the individual teacher. This is interesting information, and maybe it is best for teachers to develop assessment questions to fit their own style of teaching.

Magnetism: More Than Just Objects Attracted to Refrigerators
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Title: Magnetism: More Than Just Objects Attracte
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 6, 2014
  I really like this lesson! This lesson has students constructing their own conceptual models of how magnets work and then making theories, testing the models, and adjusting them to fit the facts. The materials are fairly simple and inexpensive and this could be done in any classroom.

Everyday Engineering: Why the Statue of Liberty is Green: Coatings, Corrosion, and Patina
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
Simple chemical change lab
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on October 6, 2014
  This article provides a directed inquiry activity on chemical changes brought on by corrosion. It is inexpensive to implement. I have done similar activities with students but this one provides extensions that tie it into engineering by having students look at applications of coatings to provide protection from chemical changes. Simple but effective way to include engineering with a simple science experiment.

Cooling Off
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
Assessing student knowledge
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on August 12, 2014
  This assessment looks at how students understand temperature and heat. It also explains the topics clearly for teachers so that they can correctly analyze the results themselves. I would use this during discussions of differences between heat and temperature.

The Water Cycle
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Reading on Water Cycle
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on July 27, 2014
  This chapter provides an overview of all the different components that participate in the Water Cycle, how humans interact with the water cycle, and how we are currently (2002-2015 at least) measuring water using satellite data. This would be useful for secondary students or undergraduates in an introductory program and, of course. for teachers to update background knowledge.

Recycled Water: The Hydrologic Cycle
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Provides students with visual water cycle
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on July 27, 2014
  This activity provides students with a good demonstration of what it looks like for water to go through a basic cycle of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation with some runoff thrown in. Like the author states, following up with a terrarium would allow you to integrate transpiration into the cycle. This totally neglects groundwater and the role of glaciers/ continental ice sheets, but these can be included with additional activities. A good overall introduction to water cycle - for those concerned about it using incandescent lighting sources - these lights are still imported from other countries or a substitute could be obtained at a pet store that sells supplies for reptiles (as neither CFL or LED lights provide the heat needed for reptiles).

Drip Drop Detectives: Exposing The Water Cycle
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School
Guided Inquiry to discover the water cycle
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on July 27, 2014
  This chapter provides a guided inquiry where the class reads a book on the water cycle where the water drop travels around the world and the students conduct activities to discover how this might occur. The strength of this lesson is that students collect data and use a claim/evidence format to explain their results. The weakness is that it relies on a number of different trade books to facilitate the process. Overall, this is a really nice lesson/unit for younger students learning about the water cycle and I highly recommend it.

Understanding Heat Travel
Book Chapter
Grade Level: High School, Middle School
Simple but powerful ideas
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on July 9, 2014
  This chapter presents a number of simple activities students (and sometimes teachers) can do which show how heat is transferred and factors that affect heat transfer. Some of these I already do, some of these I need to start doing as they are very clever and inexpensive!

The Magic Balloon
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
One of my favorite activities!
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on July 9, 2014
  This story is similar to one I tell my students as we discuss the effect of heat on volume (Charles Law) and, like the story, I generally go to the store and buy a helium balloon for my students to investigate in cold and warmth. If you have never done this, the author clearly explains how to teach this lesson and why it is important to teach! Two thumbs up!

Cooling Off
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
Getting students to think about heat
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on July 9, 2014
  This story works as a great formative assessment to get students to thinking and talking about how heat and how it is transferred. The section for teachers is informative and helpful. I like the middle school lesson, I have not done this variation of a calorimeter before, but I can see how it would help eliminate student misconceptions on what moves, heat or cold?

Cooling Off
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
Getting students to think about heat
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on July 9, 2014
  This story works as a great formative assessment to get students to thinking and talking about how heat and how it is transferred. The section for teachers is informative and helpful. I like the middle school lesson, I have not done this variation of a calorimeter before, but I can see how it would help eliminate student misconceptions on what moves, heat or cold?

Science 101: How do windmills generate power?
Journal Article
Grade Level: Elementary School
Basic introduction to turbines
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 10, 2014
  This article does a great job of explaining how turbines produce electricity and gives great activities that can be done with students to help them understand as well. What it does not do is provide any information on why people do and do not support turbines. As long as electricity is all you are interested in - this is actually great! If you want to look at issues as well, there are some forums in the Learning Center that discuss these and a number of great chapters and articles that discuss how to teach controversial issues. Sadly, although it is a great alternative source of energy, it is also an issue.

Inquiry and Scientific Explanations: Helping Students Use Evidence and Reasoning
Book Chapter
Grade Level: High School, Middle School
Great explanation for teaching CER
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 10, 2014
  This chapter provides information for teachers on how to start to implement the use of Claims - Evidence - Reasoning into their inquiry units and provides justification for the use and things to watch for when teaching. Very good introduction at any level.

Improving Learning in Science With Formative Assessment
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Making students a part of assessment
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 10, 2014
  This chapter provides two important ideas; 1) make students a part of the assessment process and get them talking about what is important to learn and where they are in their progress, and 2) how can we train teachers to teach this way - what are some successful strategies to help teachers to learn how to design instruction that involves students in learning. Both sections provide valuable insights for teachers and I would recommend this to any teacher who is interested in improving how they assess student learning and their instructional approach. I would also recommend this to supervisors working with those teachers as it outlines useful ways to support those teachers who are seeking to change/improve their practice. Powerful techniques.

In a Heartbeat
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
What is a heartbeat?
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 10, 2014
  This story is designed to get students thinking about what a heartbeat is, what factors affect your heatbeat, and to encourage them (and the teacher!) to design an inquiry project to learn more. While designed for students in elementary school, this could be extended into an introduction for middle level, as well. Provides additional information for teachers on the circulatory system to prepare them for student questions!

Is Evolution Random?
Book Chapter
Grade Level: High School
A Case for teaching evolution
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 9, 2014
  This contains the preface to the book which explains why it is important to teach evolution, how this book and the accompanying video came about, and who the scientists are who participated in the video. This chapter goes over a sample lesson which incorporates the video to help students to grasp the difference between random and purposeful selection. It could be used without the video, but was designed to be integrated with the video so additional material would be necessary. Good introduction to how the book/video are organized.

Just Rolling Along
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Simple yet complicated
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 9, 2014
  While the answer may seem obvious, many students lack in experiences and will need to actually do the experiment described to understand what the question is asking. Since this introduces fundamental ideas like constant speed and eventually friction, I would recommend this probe for students as a way to lead into discussions of measuring motion and refer back to it when discussing the directional component of forces.

Involving Students in Assessment
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Middle School
Assessment as a tool for learning
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 9, 2014
  This chapter describes a project in which students were, over the course of a school year and in all their core classes, taught to assess their own work and that of peers, how to write assessments (both rubrics and test questions), and how to reflect on the results of assessments in a way that allowed them to grow as learners. A powerful lesson for students, if one is patient enough to follow through, that increased learning, especially for students who were not doing as well at the start - because someone took the time to make how they were assessed not only transparent but a process they participated in. All practicing teachers should read this and think about how they might integrate these ideas in their curriculum.

Introduction: The Environmental Context
Book Chapter
Grade Level: High School, Middle School
Points to consider before teaching issues
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 9, 2014
  This selection is made up of the preface and the introduction to this book on how to teach environmental issues. The introduction focuses on environmental issues but in the process describes a justification and a process for teaching ANY issues in the science classroom in an impartial way that allows students to see the complexity of the scientific process and to create their own opinions based on evidence from all KNOWN sides, pointing out that we never know all the potential consequences of an action. Excellent reading for all science teachers but especially those working on introducing students to how science and society interact at the secondary or undergraduate levels.

Science Teaching and Assessing Students’ Scientific Literacy
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Levels of literacy and assessing students
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 3, 2014
  This chapter has a LOT of information in it but I will focus on two things I felt were useful. The author provides definitions for levels of scientific inquiry that we can apply to our students to assess if we are teaching them to be useful citizens. The other interesting thing was looking at the results of the environmental awareness questions presented in the 2006 PISA assessment. This provides teachers who are interested in making students environmentally aware of issues a general idea of what middle level students in the US and world think of some of the major issues to confront the world presently and in the future. Based on this analysis, teachers can better design curriculum to make students more aware of issues.

Science Standards Influence Classroom Assessment Practices
Book Chapter
Grade Level: College, Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Interesting study
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 3, 2014
  The authors wanted to see if middle school teachers were informed of the standards at that time (1998-2000) and if they were, did they use them to design assessment items? What they discovered was that the teachers lacked training in how to develop higher-order thinking questions or application questions and fell back on content/fact related questioning as a form of assessment. There is at least two unsubstantiated claims (which may be because this is a summary of a longer article) but the article does a nice job of explaining terms and how the data was processed. The appendix with the information on assessment analysis used for 2061 was a very useful piece of information for anyone who is interested in doing active research. A review of this article, as many things done by the authors could easily be done by a classroom teacher, could be used to evaluate their own assessment practices. It might also be useful for pre-service teachers or an in-service on assessment.

Science Interactive Notebooks in the Classroom
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School
Good overview of one style
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 3, 2014
  The author introduces interactive notebooks - notebooks in which both teachers and students design what information goes into the notebook. By giving students ownership of the information in the notebook, instead of it all being teacher driven, it allows students to be more responsible and feel more like scientists. I really like that she emphasizes that English and math do not stop at the door of the science classroom. However, this is just one way of setting these up and I encourage the reader to check out other methods to find one that fits their teaching style.

Scales and Number Distributions
Book Chapter
Grade Level: High School, Middle School
Good introduction to terminology
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 3, 2014
  This chapter is the same as the other chapter by the same name, just written in a previous book. As such, it has all the same benefits - it introduces (or reviews) terminology used in mathematics and statistics, it provides examples that are specific to education, and it has good references. The information on graphing calculators is the same in both texts.

Scales and Number Distribution
Book Chapter
Grade Level: Elementary School, High School, Middle School
Good introduction to terminology
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on June 3, 2014
  I did not have statistics in school, but now it is part of the Common Core mathematical expectations for my students. Since I have forgotten a lot of math terminology anyway, I found this chapter very helpful in providing a review of math terms, practice applications to help me remember them, and interesting references to apply them. It also provides examples from what I do as a teacher instead of random problems that also help me to better apply this understanding. This is one chapter in a book on statistics in education which I am currently reading.

Fostering Argumentation Skills: Doing What Real Scientists Really Do
Journal Article
Grade Level: Middle School
What scientific argumentation might look like
  Reviewed by: Tina Harris (Fairmount, IN) on May 15, 2014
  This article uses a QCEE form to help students to frame questions, claims and evidence to develop scientific discussions in an inquiry unit on soils. In the process, the article discusses the role of students and teachers and provides a sample of what student work might look like. I think that this article, combined with others on claims and evidence would provide someone interested in incorporating this strategy with some good ideas of how it works and what it looks like in the classroom.

Embracing Controversy in the Classroom
Journal Article