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A video study of eighth grade science classrooms in the United States and four other countries found that U.S. teachers focused on a variety of activities to engage students, but not in a consistent way that developed coherent and challenging science content. In comparison, classrooms in four other higher-achieving countries—Australia, the Czech Republic, Japan, and the Netherlands—exposed eighth graders to science lessons characterized by a core instructional approach that held students to high content standards and expectations for student learning.
The National Center for Education Statistics in the U.S. Education Department’s Institute of Education Sciences released these and other findings in a report titled Teaching Science in Five Countries: Results From the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) 1999 Video Study that draws on analysis of 439 randomly selected videotaped classroom lessons in the participating countries. To view the reports and for more information, visit http://nces.ed.gov/timss.
A second report released by NCES compares science content in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2000 and TIMSS. To download, view, and print the publication as a PDF file, please visit:
Making headlines across the country was the April 6 report in the journal Nature announcing the fossil discovery of a 375-million-year-old fish considered to be the missing link between fish and land animals. Found in the Canadian Arctic by a team of scientists led by Neil H. Shubin of the University of Chicago, the new species—called Tiktaalik roseae—had a flat head like a crocodile, strong bony fins, and characteristics of land animals, including ribs, a neck, and nostrils on its snout for breathing air.
According to the New York Times, the find “is so clearly an intermediate ‘link between fishes and land vertebrates,’ they said, that it ‘might in time become as much an evolutionary icon as the proto-bird Archaeopteryx,’ which bridged the gap between reptiles (probably dinosaurs) and today's birds.”
To read about this exciting find, go to National Geographic at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/04/0405_060405_fish.html or the New York Times at http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/13/science/13fossil.html.
If bringing interesting science news into your classroom is a part of your teaching strategy, we've provided NSTA's popular SciLinks® online teacher-approved internet service to identify several grade-specific websites and resources to help you expand your lessons. SciLinks® is a web-based service from NSTA that provides online content using keywords; Fossil Discoveries is the keyword used here.
Headline Science is an NSTA Express feature we'll present from time-to-time to bring you timely and valuable online resources and materials you can use to examine breaking scientific news. The online SciLinks® sites we offer are normally available to NSTA members only, but will be opened for short periods to assist our readers in bringing the news into the classroom.
The first three of ten new spring NSTA Web Seminars are scheduled in upcoming weeks. These free events are 90-minute, live professional development experiences using online learning technologies to allow distant participants to interact with recognized subject experts including NSTA Press authors, and scientists, engineers, and education specialists from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). These content and pedagogical experts provide real-time answers to questions.
On Thursday, April 20, Dr. Art Poland, astronomer at George Mason University will discuss the Sun, space weather, and how it affects those living and working in space--recommended for teachers of grades 4–9. Page Keeley, co-author of the NSTA Press book, Uncovering Student Ideas in Science, Vol. 1: 25 Formative Assessment Probes, will focus on instructional strategies for using assessment probes—designed for teachers of grades K–12—on April 27. On May 4, Dr. Matt Bobrowsky, astronomer at Space Telescope Science Institute, will talk about the origin of stars, planets, and life in the universe—recommended for teachers of grades 4–9. All Seminars are conveniently scheduled for 6:30–8 p.m. EST to allow for live participation and interaction. Grant-funded, these online events are offered at no cost to registrants. Because participation is limited, advance registration is strongly advised. NSTA will e-mail reminders to registrants for future seminars just before the event date. For a full schedule of upcoming Seminar topics, dates and times, and to register, go to http://www.nsta.org/pd/institute.aspxweb_seminars.asp.
Headlining this summer's online course offerings from the National Teachers Enhancement Network (NTEN) is a powerful course for high school teachers—Environmental Measurement: Sensors and Electronics for Environmental Research introduces teachers to digital voltmeters and simple DC circuits, operational amplifiers, basic principles of digital logic and counting circuits, and analog-to-digital conversion…and no experience in electronics required! Registration is open for 17 NTEN online courses in eight disciplines, including biology, chemistry, education, health and human development, land resources and environmental science, math, microbiology, and physics. For more details about Environmental Measurement and all of NTEN's Summer 2006 professional development course offerings for science educators at all grade levels, visit http://www.scienceteacher.org/courses.htm, or call 800-282-6062. Most courses offer graduate credit, and NSTA members receive a 10% discount on select courses.
Featuring 36 hands-on activities especially for middle schoolers, this beautifully illustrated full color book involves students in a variety of foundational sciences, including biology, geology, chemistry, physics, and astronomy. Chapters include “How Do Fossils Form?”, “What Can You Learn From Fossils?”, “Mass Extinction and Meteor Collisions With Earth,” plus others on how to tell the age of the Earth; how dinosaurs evolved; and diversity, classification, and taxonomy. “Fossils in Society,” and “When Are Fossils Art?” examine the subject from the humanistic perspective. To browse a portion of the book and to order, go to http://store.nsta.org/showItem.asp?product=PB201X.
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