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Middle and High School Science Textbooks
A Standards-Based Evaluation

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Does the material demonstrate/model or include suggestions for teachers on how to demonstrate/model skills or the use of knowledge?

Explanation. The purpose of a science literacy curriculum should be to help students learn important science ideas and habits of mind, such as those specified in Benchmarks for Science Literacy and the National Science Education Standards, and be able to draw upon them in a variety of contexts. Among the ways science literate adults use their knowledge and skills are to describe and explain phenomena, to solve practical problems, and to consider alternative positions on issues. Hence students should learn to use their knowledge and skills in these ways.

Before students can be expected to perform a skill or to use knowledge, they need to see what is expected. This is particularly important for complex behaviors such as explaining scientific phenomena, solving practical problems, taking an informed position on an issue, or conducting a scientific investigation. Demonstrating/modeling a skill involves (a) an expert performance of the skill, (b) providing running commentary about important aspects students should note about the performance of the skill, and (c) providing criteria for judging a good performance. Demonstrating/modeling how knowledge might be used—to describe, explain, or predict phenomena; to solve practical problems; or to discuss issues—is similar, though perhaps less familiar. An example is demonstrating/modeling how knowledge of key ideas about natural selection can be used to explain the evolution of mosquito resistance to DDT or bacterial resistance to penicillin.

Responding to this criterion involves examining whether the material demonstrates/models the expected performance (in the text or other accompanying materials) or includes suggestions for teachers on how to demonstrate/model skills or use of knowledge in their classroom. For example, the material may use the idea that molecules are constantly moving to explain what happens when we open a bottle of perfume before asking the students to explain what happens when we cut into a lemon or when we smell trash. When demonstrations are provided, their quality is examined. For example, for explanations to be helpful as demonstrations, they should be step-by-step (so students can follow how one step leads to another), include commentary on features of a good explanation (so students' attention can be focused on these features rather than on incidental ones), and be identified as models (so students can appreciate their function and take advantage of them).

Cases in which students practice skills or use knowledge serve as evidence for the criterion "Providing practice" but not for this criterion.

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