Paul Allan

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Recent Reviews by Paul

Tue Jul 22, 2008 11:50 AM
4 Third Book in the Series Doesn't Disappoint
Our NSTA president, Page Keeley, and colleagues have again provided an excellent source for helping determine student conceptualizations and understanding of various science topics. This is the third book in the series, and having used the prior two I find this one of similar quality. “Uncovering Student Ideas” books are filled with short science scenarios that have students make an educated guess in answering a question regarding a phenomenon. Then, and this is the extremely important part, students must provide in writing their reason for choosing their answer. An example of a classic activity will help illustrate the book’s structure. On page 57 is the student handout (which may also be projected to save paper) asking students to guess the fewest number of wires a person would need to make a light bulb light, given the bulb and a battery. Students can pick 1, 2, 3, or 4 pieces of wire. Then they are asked to “Explain your thinking about how to light the bulb. Draw a picture to support your explanation.” I use these books with my STEM graduate students who teach in elementary classrooms as “visiting scientists” as well as their partner teachers. It is often hard to remember what you didn’t know and misconceptions you might have held as a young student. The multitude of examples in the books provide my university students with a unique look into how their elementary students might look at a concept completely differently than they would ever expect. The graduate students use the scenarios as pre- and post-assessment activities in their classrooms. While most of them don’t need the follow-up science concept background information provided, their classroom teaching partners find that information valuable. Even some of the graduate student scientists have found some of the scenarios to be challenging and many workshop discussions have been generated through the use of the activities. Whether used for pre-assessment, formative assessment, or summative assessment, the information you will get from using the activities in these books will inform your teaching and enlighten you to what has been learned and what still needs further clarification.