What are my favorite science teacher reads?
If it exists at all, July has got to be the Teacher’s Month of Rest. With it being (for many of you) smack-dab in the middle of the summer break, it’s the perfect time to take a breather. You worked in June, and you know you’re going to start it all up again in August… but in July, give yourself some time to recharge.
That said, I don’t always follow my own advice, and I have always viewed summer as the perfect time to get ahead on my professional development. Whether its conferences, teacher workshops, or self-study, I can’t keep my head out of the education space for too long.
If you’re anything like me and you can’t turn off your teacher-brain entirely, check out these science teacher must-reads! These books are literally my favorites. They had huge impacts on my own instruction, and they are SO in line with the Next Generation Science Standards! You FOR SURE want to check these out.
(Also total disclaimer here: these are all Amazon affiliate links. If that bothers you, just pull up the book on Amazon yourself. I won’t mind! But for real, check them out!)
What You Should Read and Why:
The 5E Model is an instructional strategy that is perfect for the NGSS. It relies on student discovery of the content, it can easily fit into the typical school schedule, and it doesn’t require any more planning than your usual approaches once you get the hang of it. That said, it is SO MISUNDERSTOOD. So many “5E Approaches” are just “Explain, Explain, Explain, and More Explain… plus an Evaluate.” Not the 5Es they were targeting, huh? Clear up your misconceptions with this text by the 5E creators. The book provides a great overview of each phase, although I do wish there were more examples to illustrate what each phase really looks like. (Although you can always find that information when you become a member of the Science Teacher Tribe!) Other than that small complaint, it’s a great book to introduce you to the 5Es as they were intended and get you off on the right track, implementing some awesome NGSS-style discovery-oriented instruction!
This book is all about the theory behind developing students’ conceptual understanding and how we can use different approaches to do that – especially those that align with the NGSS. In fact, this book is all about NGSS-aligned instruction. If you’re into the research and fascinated by the history (and future!) of education, you will definitely want to check this one out. And if research sounds a little bit boring – don’t worry. There are enough author vignettes and case study stories interwoven into the text to keep you intrigued.
This book walks you through designing effective instruction – duh, that’s its title! But really, the goal of the book is to bridge the gap between research into what works and the actual implementation of that in the classroom. Basically, research has already identified a ton of strategies that work when it comes to designing effective instructional sequences and utilizing effective instructional practices, buuuuut teachers aren’t really taught how to plan out those sequences or apply those practices. So we end up with ineffective instruction, and no one wants that!
I read this book a few years ago, and in writing this very short review, I flipped back through the pages and found a ton of notes I had written about how to revise my current units and lessons to better meet the needs of my students. I was SO INSPIRED reading this book, and it made it super easy to put the ideas into practice. Check it out for yourself!
So while this text is not technically “NGSS,” it probably could have been written by the creators. (Heck, maybe it was… I admit I didn’t research the actual authors too much.) All I can tell you is – the practices described in the book epitomize so much of what an NGSS-style class is going to look like – storylines and anchors, modeling, productive talk, and constructing explanations… it’s SO NGSS!
Plus what I really like is that it breaks down these practices so they are actually understandable and applicable. Unlike many resources out there that will tell you what a storyline is, this book gives you the strategies to actually construct your storyline! (That said, we do that over at the Science Teacher Tribe, too! And if you’re looking for a free resource to help you with storylines, grab up the free guide here.)
This is an oldie-but-goodie for me. You’ve probably heard of Harry K. Wong’s The First Days Of School, and I totally think that book is worthwhile. That said, for me, this one takes the cake. Wong outlines a bazillion procedures you might want to have in your classroom and a bunch of different ways you might want to implement it (providing ideas for various grade levels) AND suggestions to help you TEACH that procedure (because we all need to be teaching procedures). It’s basically Procedures Pinterest in a book-form with a little less pictures (but still some!) and a little more text. Whether you are a new teacher or have been at it awhile, this book will give you SO MANY ideas to create better systems in your classroom that improve efficiency, support healthier classroom environments, and ultimately maximize instruction. This is one I recommend to EVERY new teacher (and have lent out SO MANY times!), so seriously, click the link!
Are you ready to engage your students with the NGSS, but aren’t sure where to start?
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- determining what content you should be teaching,
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“In just one mini course, I learned more about making the NGSS come alive than what I garnered from an 8 hour PD.” – Missy I., Middle School Science Teacher (New Hampshire)