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Middle and High School Science Textbooks
A Standards-Based Evaluation

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Does the material include tasks and/or question sequences to guide student interpretation and reasoning about experiences with phenomena, representations, and ideas?

Explanation. While experiences with phenomena are useful, they are not sufficient. Students need time, opportunities, and guidance to make sense of these experiences. If the students are turned loose to investigate on their own, at best a few students will "stumble" on the key ideas for which the phenomena are intended. Students' experiences need to be guided with sequences of questions that lead them to make relevant observations and draw inferences. Similarly, students need time, opportunities, and guidance to make sense of ideas introduced in readings and class discussions.

Responding to this criterion involves examining whether the material includes (in the teacher's guide or student text) specific, carefully chosen and sequenced tasks or questions that are likely to support students' thinking about phenomena and representations. The questions must be carefully structured to lead the students from one insight to another without giving the whole story away by simply asserting the end results.

Good tasks and questions frame important issues, help students relate their experiences with phenomena to the presented scientific ideas, help students make connections between their own ideas and phenomena observed or ideas presented, help teachers anticipate common student misconceptions, and focus on contrasts between student misconceptions and scientific alternatives.

Cases in which students are encouraged to think about their experiences in an unstructured way (e.g., "Students should discuss their ideas about why this happens") serve as evidence for the criterion "Encouraging students to explain their ideas" but not for this criterion.

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