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Education Week Examines Current Approaches to Teaching Science

The November 10 edition of Education Week takes an in-depth look at current approaches used to teach science and the potential implications of No Child Left Behind (NCLB). In two separate articles, writer Sean Cavanagh explores the complexities of defining various science teaching methods, examines new and ongoing research to support effective science teaching, and looks at what science teaching methods are predominantly used in the nation's classrooms.

Adding interest to the dialogue is a recent study conducted by David Klahr from Carnegie Mellon University, who found increased student performance from "direct instruction" methods, as opposed to "discovery learning," an approach that generally asks students to acquire knowledge through laboratory work, experiments, and periodic guidance from teachers. He notes, however, that his study should not be linked to the very highly scripted, "extremely controlling" models of direct instruction. "…direct instruction necessitates some combination of direct explanation of material and classroom experimentation."

Advocates of discovery learning say "direct instruction can easily regress into lecture-style teaching, heavy on rote recitation of scientific facts and memorization." NSTA is quoted in the article as encouraging a blend of teaching methods. Science teacher Sara Ford is quoted at the end of the article, "…If you're teaching, you have to have a bag of tricks and a variety of strategies."

Visit http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2004/11/10/11science.h24.html to read "NCLB Could Alter Science Teaching," and http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2004/11/10/11nrc.h24.html to read "Research-Council Studies to Exploring Teaching and Testing of Science."

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Welcome to American Education Week

Celebrating the American Dream is the theme for this year's American Education Week, which first began in 1921 to recognize educators and school support staff nationwide. For activity ideas, event promotions, and media tips on how your school can take advantage of this national event, visit the NEA site at http://www.nea.org/aew.

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Standards-Based Content Plus Children's Books' Appeal: Picture-Perfect Science Lessons Available from NSTA Press… Download a Sample Chapter-Free!

This fabulous new teaching resource integrates Standards-based science with the appeal of children's picture books, to bring you 15 ready-to-teach lessons for grades 3 to 6 that are as engaging as they are effective. Just published by NSTA Press (and creating lots of buzz at our recent Indianapolis convention), Picture-Perfect Science Lessons: Using Children's Books to Guide Inquiry, was written by Karen Rohrich Ansberry and Emily Morgan, classroom veterans who know first-hand that elementary teachers are usually crunched for science instructional time and could often use refresher explanations of scientific concepts. Drawing on diverse books such as Dr. Xargle's Book of Earthlets, Oil Spill, Sheep in a Jeep, and more, they illustrate how to combine science and reading in a natural way and provide easy-to-grasp background in selected content areas.

As a special introductory offer to readers of NSTA Express, you are invited to download a complete chapter--"Earthlets"--at no charge when you complete a brief questionnaire at http://science.nsta.org/survey_earthlets. And as always, NSTA members receive a 20% discount on all NSTA Press titles; to buy this title, visit http://store.nsta.org/showItem.asp?product=PB186X&session. But hurry! This offer for the free chapter will be available for a limited time only.

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National Teachers Enhancement Network Spring Registration Opens; Weather and Climate for Teachers Leads 11-Course Online Offerings

Among the 11 courses for K-12 science teachers being offered for spring 2005 by NTEN is Weather and Climate for Teachers. Course participants will study our dynamic atmosphere, ranging from weather-forecasting meteorology that considers the day-to-day changes in Earth's atmosphere, to large-scale climatology that characterizes long-term changes in Earth's atmosphere. Specially designed for practicing science teachers at the middle school level, this course serves as a survey of topics in atmospheric science that are closely aligned with the concepts emphasized in the National Research Council's National Science Education Standards.

For details about all of the spring NTEN courses and to register, go to http://www.scienceteacher.org/courses.htm or call 800-282-6062. Courses begin from early to late January, run seven to 17 weeks, and carry one to three graduate level credits from Montana State University. Course sizes are limited, so early registration is encouraged.

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1st NSTA Fall Convention a Rousing Hoosier State Success!

NSTA's fall convention in Indianapolis was a highly successful and gratifying event according to attendees: "I received good ideas, which sparked more good ideas..." And they praised: "…the link to literacy and integrated science in other subjects; …the opportunity to meet colleagues and make new contacts for supplies and ideas; …breakout sessions and field trips: science facilities; …listening to the experiences of professionals who have 'been there' and have good, constructive methods of improving science teaching; …updating technology, swapping killer labs with other teachers; …the Science Store" And as one attendee summarized: "Making science teachers feel that they are great at what they do…Thanks."

And thanks to all who joined NSTA in Indianapolis. If you haven't registered yet to attend the conventions in Seattle, Nov. 18-20, or Richmond, Dec. 2-4, you can always register when you arrive. We look forward to seeing you!

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There's Still Time to Take Our Survey on Virtual Communities

To help our members make contacts among the science- teaching community, we are developing online virtual communities, which we define as groups of people communicating and collaborating over the internet. We have developed a comprehensive list of features that will appeal to a wide range of interests. Take a minute and tell us what you like, or don't like, about this innovative new tool that can connect you with your teacher colleagues. Visit http://science.nsta.org/survey_virtual_communities.

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