Students are not all on the same playing field in the classroom. They come from different backgrounds, learn differently and therefore, especially when learning science, need teachers who support them through effective instructional approaches with culture as a starting point.
This approach is the foundation of the second edition of Teaching Science to Every Child by Dr. John Settlage, associate professor in science teacher education at the Neag School of Education. The textbook serves as a tool for educators to think about all learners, regardless of abilities or language, with strategies for successful teaching in the subject matter.
“The goal of this book was to infuse student diversity throughout the whole book — in how to ask questions, in how to design assessments and in how to run a classroom,” said Settlage.
Settlage’s research examines the need to teach science so children from any background can be successful. His text is unique to the market, offering an encouraging tone throughout and approaches to making science accessible to all.
Contents of the book include understanding basic science process skills, experimenting as a valuable way of doing science, integrating science with other subjects, among others.
Besides three new chapters, embedded technological tools and an increased attention to the role of theory, a special feature of the second edition is the added artwork as chapter openers.
The contributing artists were fourth grade students from Katie Smith’s class in Manchester’s Waddell Elementary School. Smith, a Neag alumnus, had Settlage as a professor and learned from him the importance of adjusting to meet the needs of every individual in the classroom. Smith used the first edition of the textbook as a graduate student before helping in the contribution of the newest updates.
“The book, as much as it is a tool for teachers to learn science teaching methods, really encourages out-of-the-box thinking,” said Smith. “It’s not about the traditional way of teaching science with a textbook. It’s much more about kids having meaningful experiences exploring with materials, while the teacher provides a venue for them to feel safe, to ask questions, to be curious, and to communicate those feelings with each other.”
“It encourages teachers to think deeply about their own science teaching practices and whether or not these methods are truly helping each member of a diverse classroom to process concepts and extend learning,” Smith concluded.
With the help of Settlage, Smith and her class brainstormed different ways students might think about science with a list of categories like weather and ecosystems. After handing out pieces of paper, the educators gave the children the liberty to draw whatever came to mind that was important to them in terms of the subject.
The focus was not to have correct diagrams or explanations, but instead to illustrate the students’ own authentic opinions and thoughts, which translated well into the book, further emphasizing Settlage’s message.
“I think it’s nice to show thinking from kids in the updated edition, especially for new teachers,” said Smith. “As a pre-service teacher, I always felt more connected to a text in which I could see authentic examples of work being done in the classroom. It helps to contextualize the often-arduous process of teaching a bit more, and it gives teachers a taste of the fun that is to come!”
The book is published by Routledge Press. For more information about the book, check out their website http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415892582/.