Mon May 05, 2008 6:45 PM
Picture-Perfect Science Lessons
Picture-Perfect Science Lessons is an explanation and guide for using picture books and other children’s literature as a way to teach science. The book begins by outlining an argument for using such literature in science and provides best practice methods for reading picture books aloud to children.
The first chapter defines a picture book as being “…unique to children’s literature as they are defined by format rather than content. That is, they are books in which the illustrations are of equal importance as or more important than the text in the creation of meaning” (Strickland and Morrow 2000). Picture books tend to capture the interest of children for longer periods of time and lend themselves to comprehension strategy practice.
The book gave four research-based arguments for using picture books. First, they give context for concepts. Rather than having student memorize lists of facts, books give a real-life context in which new concepts can better be learned and observed. Second, picture books provide a greater depth of coverage. Unlike textbooks which often give broad coverage on many topics, picture books allow for in-depth coverage on one topic. Third, research shows that children showed great gains in literacy skills when introduced to children’s literature and literacy instruction in the science program. Their attitude towards science also improved. Finally, using picture books within the science curriculum provided opportunities to correct science misconceptions. “Repetition of the correct concept by reading several books, doing a number of experiments, and inviting scientists to the classroom can facilitate a conceptual change in children (Miller, Steiner, and Larson 1996).
The second chapter gave tips for reading aloud and reading comprehension strategies. The authors also listed tools for improving reading comprehension including anticipation guides, visual representations, rereading, stop and jot, think-pair-share, and word sorts.
The third and fourth chapters discussed using an inquiry model and leading children through prediction, inferring, and questioning. The authors introduce us to the BSCS Instruction Model (Biological Sciences Curriculum Study) and the 5E model. The 5E model is Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate and Evaluate. The purpose of the Engage stage is to capture students’ attention. The Explore stage provides opportunities for students to engage in activities, giving them concrete experiences, concepts and skills. In the Explain stage, students are given a chance to put their ideas into their own words, clarifying the concepts. This gives the teacher a checkpoint to assess student understanding. In the elaborate stage, students are challenged to extend the concepts learned and apply them to new situations. At the evaluate stage, the teacher is able to assess student’s understanding and give opportunity for students to self-evaluate.
The remainder of the book lays out each chapter as a lesson plan, including goals, objectives, all required materials, activities, questions and a rubric for assessment. Each chapter provides the worksheets needed for the activities and lays out each lesson according to the 5E model.
I would highly recommend this book for its many strategies and usability.