Resources for Science Literacy: Professional Development CD-ROM and Companion Paperback
by American Association for the Advancement of Science
ISBN 0195108736 (0-19-510873-6)
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Oxford University Press, 1997
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Book summary: Ten years ago, Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) set out to define what it means to be science literate. Project 2061 confronted this issue head on with the creation of Science for All Americans, a work that defined the knowledge, skills, and habits of mind that all citizens need to live interesting, responsible, and productive lives in a culture shaped by science and technology. Benchmarks for Science Literacy took this a step further, mapping how student understanding should progress from simple ideas intelligible to kindergartners toward the more sophisticated knowledge recommended for high school graduates.
Now, Project 2061 has turned its attention toward the educators themselves, focusing on the manner in which teachers prepare for their work in the classroom. Resources for Science Literacy, a new two-part, CD-ROM tool, offers educators the opportunity to enhance their understanding of science literacy; make sound decisions about curriculum materials, classroom instruction, and assessment; and make better use of Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. At same time, it works to bypass some of the obstacles that have stymied education reform efforts in the past. Few teachers can be expected to understand all of the topics included in Science for All Americans--from the natural and social sciences, mathematics, technology, and their interconnection to the history and nature of science and technology. Experts on teacher education and professional development recognize this dilemma and how it affects the ability to adequately convey what students need to know. Resources for Science Literacy: Professional Development has been created to meet the needs of today's teachers, offering help in overcoming the difficulties of making science literacy a reality.
Resources for Science Literacy: Professional Development offers a carefully selected collection of references, workshop activities, research, analyses, and course plans that illustrate many aspects of science literacy and its application to K-12 science education. Links throughout the text allow users to search for resources relating to specific topics presented in Science for All Americans, Professional Development places a veritable storehouse of developmental tools and strategies right at the user's fingertips. For example, users can create a customized list of recommended trade books dealing with the scientific inquiry chapter of Science for All Americans, then review the specific learning goals related to that topic recommended in Benchmarks for Science Literacy and the National Science Education Standards, go on to explore the cognitive research on student learning of concepts related to scientific inquiry, and, finally, examine the college course syllabi for guidance on developing a systematic approach to learning more about the topic.
For teachers planning their own professional growth, individuals and higher education institutions involved in planning preservice and inservice education, and school districts designing staff development programs, Resources for Science Literacy: Professional Development will be an invaluable asset.
* Full text of Science for All Americans
* Science Trade Books
* Cognitive Research
* College Course's
* Comparisons of Benchmarks to National Standards
* Project 2061 Workshop Guide
The Resources for Science Literacy: Professional Development CD-ROM makes available for the first time the full text of Science for All Americans in an electronic format. Its other major components are:
Project 2061 Workshop Guide
Project 2061 receives frequent requests from educators for help in understanding and using Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy as tools to plan curriculum, instruction, and assessment. In response, it has developed workshops for a variety of purposes and audiences, including teachers, administrators, curriculum developers, and policymakers. Developed by over three dozen teachers from Project 2061 School-District Center teams and other consultants, the Workshop Guide brings together a wide array of workshop options so that educators can design their own workshops to suit specific needs, audiences, and time frames. The Guide includes detailed instructions for planning a Project 2061 workshop; essential workshop components, including recommended options for making progress toward particular goals; suggestions for evaluating audience understanding of a presentation; and sample workshop plans, agendas, handouts, transparencies, and evaluation forms. And an easy-to-use table of contents provides brief summaries of each workshop and its purpose, offering a simple way to preview and select appropriate options.
Science Trade Books
Most teachers will be quite knowledgeable about some of the topics in Science for All Americans but less familiar with others. In turn, the Science Trade Books component consists of books that range from basic introductions--some actually written with young adults in mind--to more sophisticated treatments requiring considerable background knowledge. In addition to nonfiction science books, this database includes novels, philosophical works, and collections of essays that shed light on various aspects of science literacy. Featuring more than two hundred citations, users may browse the entire collection of entries alphabetically by author or title, or by calling up books related to a particular section of Science for All Americans, while links allow users to view brief introductions to the books, notes on special characteristics of some works, bibliographic information, and reviews where available. Each title has been critically reviewed by the AAAS's Science Book and Films or a similar source and explicitly addresses content in Science for All Americans.
College Courses provides fifteen syllabi from college courses that were designed to increase students' knowledge of science, mathematics, and technology and their interconnections. The courses chosen for Professional Development were submitted by university faculty that had analyzed their existing syllabi for strong links to Science for All Americans. As with Science Trade Books, a special effort was made to include syllabi that cover topics found in Science for All Americans with which teachers are least likely to be familiar, such as technology, cross-cutting themes, and the nature and history of science. Easily accessed by title, author, or relevant Science for All Americans chapter, each syllabus contains information on the course author or contact person, a general description of the course, the topics it covers, the sequence of those topics, and student assignments. Also included are reading lists, lab manuals, and any other published materials related to the course, as well as links, identified by the course author, between the course and chapters of Science for All Americans. Many authors were able to provide a more detailed explanation of how the course specifically relates to Science for All Americans, an extended syllabus, a short summary of how the course design supports student learning, and any research (published or not) related to student understanding of the course content.
Comparisons of Benchmarks to National Standards
Shortly after Project 2061 published Science for All Americans in 1989, the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics released its Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics. Five years later Project 2061 published Benchmarks for Science Literacy, the National Research Council published its National Science Education Standards and the National Council for the Social Studies published its Curriculum Standards for Social Studies. Project 2061 has analyzed these documents and made detailed comparisons of each with Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. These three comparisons have been made available on CD-ROM so that educators can make informed use of the documents together or separately. Moreover, the comparisons illustrate the growing consensus on what students should know in science, mathematics, and technology.
Many teachers have little access to the latest education research or experience applying it to instruction. Most would agree, however, with Benchmarks for Science Literacy's claim that, "Overestimation of what students can learn at a given age results in student frustration, lack of confidence, and unproductive learning strategies, such as memorization without understanding." Because understanding the research on how students learn science concepts is so important to promoting science literacy goals, Benchmarks for Science Literacy included Chapter 15: The Research Base, a survey of the research that influenced the content and grade-level placement of benchmark ideas. However, it did not include any articles, reports, or books specifically written for teachers. The Cognitive Research component has been developed to supplement Chapter 15, providing references to additional reading that teachers can pursue based on their own personal interest or as part of their inservice/preservice education. It includes descriptions of over eighty articles and reports, seventeen books, and four videos related to student learning of concepts from Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy. All the research can be accessed through an alphabetical listing of articles, books, and videos by author or title, or by selecting research related to a specific Science for All Americans chapter or section.
A Work in Progress
Resources for Science Literacy: Professional Development is an evolving tool. To create this first edition, Project 2061 consulted numerous teachers and other educational experts. Yet this compilation of material is by no means exhaustive. Project 2061 invites you and your colleagues to recommend additional science trade books, research studies, college courses, and workshop activities and materials that you have encountered and would like to share for future versions. Publication of this Professional Development component will be followed by the publication of Resources for Science Literacy: Curriculum Materials. It too will be available as a CD-ROM with a companion print volume. Eventually, both components will be revised, expanded, and merged into a single CD-ROM that will be periodically updated.
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