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AAAS  :: Project 2061  :: Textbook Evaluations

Middle Grades Science Textbooks: A Benchmarks-Based Evaluation

Glencoe Earth Science, Life Science, and Physical Science. Glencoe/McGraw-Hill, 1997
Earth Science Life Science Physical Science

About this Evaluation Report
Content Analysis
Instructional Analysis
I. [Explanation] This category consists of criteria for determining whether the curriculum material attempts to make its purposes explicit and meaningful to students, either in the student text itself or through suggestions to the teacher. The sequence of lessons or activities is also important in accomplishing the stated purpose, since ideas often build on each other.
II. [Explanation] Fostering understanding in students requires taking time to attend to the ideas they already have, both ideas that are incorrect and ideas that can serve as a foundation for subsequent learning. This category consists of criteria for determining whether the curriculum material contains specific suggestions for identifying and addressing students’ ideas.
III. [Explanation] Much of the point of science is to explain phenomena in terms of a small number of principles or ideas. For students to appreciate this explanatory power, they need to have a sense of the range of phenomena that science can explain. The criteria in this category examine whether the curriculum material relates important scientific ideas to a range of relevant phenomena and provides either firsthand experiences with the phenomena or a vicarious sense of phenomena that are not presented firsthand.
IV. [Explanation] Science literacy requires that students understand the link between scientific ideas and the phenomena that they can explain. Furthermore, students should see the ideas as useful and become skillful at applying them. This category consists of criteria for determining whether the curriculum material expresses and develops the key ideas in ways that are accessible and intelligible to students, and that demonstrate the usefulness of the key ideas and provide practice in varied contexts.
V. [Explanation] Engaging students in experiences with phenomena (category III) and presenting them with scientific ideas (category IV) will not lead to effective learning unless students are given time, opportunities, and guidance to make sense of the experiences and ideas. This category consists of criteria for determining whether the curriculum material provides students with opportunities to express, think about, and reshape their ideas, as well as guidance on developing an understanding of what they experience.
VI. [Explanation] This category consists of criteria for evaluating whether the curriculum material includes a variety of aligned assessments that apply the key ideas taught in the material.
VII. [Explanation] The criteria in this category provide analysts with the opportunity to comment on features that enhance the use and implementation of the curriculum material by all students.

I. Providing a Sense of Purpose

Conveying unit purpose (Rating = Poor)

The material conveys the units' purposes to students either directly or by instructing the teachers to do so. For example, units 4 (p. 257t) and 6 (p. 479t) provide instructions for teachers in notes entitled What's Happening Here? and Previewing the Chapters, which are presented under the heading Introducing the Unit. Teachers are asked to state each unit's purpose to students and then have them browse through the chapters of the unit with a certain question in mind. The suggested questions-involving what characteristics might be important for classifying algae and plants (unit 4) and what photographs show the interactions of living organisms with their nonliving environments (unit 6)-are comprehensible and might be interesting to students. However, the statements of purpose addressed directly to students (e.g., the text on page 313s; the objectives on page 314s) suggest so many different purposes that, according to one review team, "students are likely to think that this chapter is about anything related to plants."

Most lessons are consistent with the unit purposes stated in the Teacher Wraparound Edition. However, students are not asked to think about the unit purposes or to return to them at the end of each unit.

Chapter purposes are not provided. For example, chapter 3-which deals with the chemistry of life, transport across membranes, energy-producing and -yielding processes, and biomass fuels-begins with a paragraph on wilting and an activity on osmosis (pp. 62-63s). Chapter 18-which deals with biotic and abiotic factors, populations and communities, energy flow and nutrient cycles in ecosystems, and the costs and benefits of reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park-starts with questions about how population density affects individual organisms, including people (p. 481s). Unfortunately, this issue is not related to the section on wolf reintroduction at the end of the chapter (pp. 502-504s).

Conveying lesson/activity purpose (Rating = Poor)

The material consistently states a purpose for readings and other activities. These statements vary in quality. Each section begins with a list of objectives that indicate what students should be able to do by the end of the section-for example, explain the difference between producers and consumers, and compare and contrast the processes of photosynthesis and respiration (p. 78s).

In student readings, many paragraphs include a rhetorical question that is answered subsequently. These questions are comprehensible and frame the text nicely, although students are not asked to think about them first. For example, a discussion of leaf pigments begins with the question, "Why aren't all the leaves of the trees in Figure 12-3B green?" and proceeds to discuss leaf pigments (p. 317s). Similarly, the section on photosynthesis begins, "What do plants need besides light to make food?" (p. 318s).

Purposes are typically provided for laboratory activities (e.g., pp. 313s, 316s, 481s, 490s) and sometimes for MiniLAB activities (p. 318s), but not for teacher-led discussions (e.g., pp. 79t, 315t, 317t). The purposes stated for laboratory activities are not likely to be comprehensible-for example: "Find out how water enters and leaves a plant, and then you will be able to learn about plant processes in the chapter that follows" (p. 313s); "How can the use of carbon dioxide by plants be shown?" (p. 318s); and "How do nitrogen-fixing bacteria affect plants?" (p. 494s). Students are not encouraged to think about the stated purpose, and the relationship between particular activities and the purpose of the unit is not conveyed.

Justifying lesson/activity sequence (Rating = Poor)

No rationale is given for the sequence of activities, nor can one be readily inferred. The Chapter Organizer outlines each chapter, but it does not provide a rationale for the sequence of the sections in a chapter. For example, the chapter 12 organizer offers no rationale for the sequence of the three sections-Photosynthesis and Respiration, Plant Responses, and Science and Society Technology: Transgenic Crops-nor can a strategic sequence be deduced easily (pp. 312A-312B). Similar problems exist regarding the following sequence of chapter 18 sections: The Living Environment and the Nonliving Environment, Interactions among Living Organisms, Matter and Energy, and the Science and Society Issue: Bringing Back the Wolves (pp. 480A-480B).

Even within sections, there are no explanations for the sequence of topics. For example, in section 12-1, photosynthesis is introduced before respiration. It is not clear why the textbook presents a means for gas exchange before establishing the need for getting reactants and products of photosynthesis to where they are needed and from where they are produced. Although photosynthesis and respiration are discussed in an earlier chapter (pp. 78-81s), students are not reminded that plants need carbon dioxide and water for photosynthesis. If the point of the analogy used on page 314s between humans and plants is that both need to exchange gases, why not start with the process common to both-respiration?

II. Taking Account of Student Ideas

Attending to prerequisite knowledge and skills (Rating = Poor)

Although the teacher's notes include a section labeled Tying to Previous Knowledge at the start of each chapter, the suggestions do not reflect a careful examination of content development issues. For example, the following suggestions appear before the presentation of the flow of matter and energy in ecosystems:
Review the definitions of producers, consumers, and decomposers from chapter 3. Review the definition of energy as the ability to do work. Solar energy is transformed into chemical energy that is stored in food. Through chemical changes in cells, this energy is released for use by an organism. Review metabolism from chapter 3. [p. 496t]

The suggestions emphasize definitions of terms rather than alerting teacher's to specific prerequisite ideas and the key ideas for which they are needed. Yet the section does point explicitly to prerequisite units.

The material attempts to address only one of the prerequisites identified. For the prerequisite idea that all matter is made up of atoms that can combine and recombine in various ways, the text includes a Chemistry of Living Things section. This section gives an overview of atoms, elements, and energy in matter; the most common elements in living things; and how atoms combine to form different substances (pp. 64-70s). The section is positioned appropriately before the Cell Transport section and the Energy in Cells section, where prerequisite ideas about matter and energy are needed. However, the information in the Chemistry of Living Things section is dense, does not clearly elaborate the important prerequisite ideas, and goes beyond the science literacy required for middle grades (for example, by going into how atoms combine by sharing electrons). This textbook does not address important prerequisite ideas about energy transformation, such as the ideas that energy exists in different forms (particularly that light is a form of energy) and that energy changes from one form to another. Further, it does not provide experiences tracing where energy comes from through its various forms in physical systems before students encounter energy transformations in living systems in the (Energy in Cells section). In addition, the term "food" is used in a discussion of producers, consumers, and photosynthesis (p. 78s), but what exactly is meant by the term is not clarified. Without understanding that food provides both energy and materials for growth, students are not likely to make sense of what they are reading.

Alerting teachers to commonly held student ideas (Rating = Poor)

In spite of the large body of published research on student misconceptions related to the key life science ideas, teachers are alerted to only one idea commonly held by students. In the context of introducing photosynthesis and respiration, teacher's notes indicate that "[s]ome students may believe that plants take in food from the soil in which they live" (p. 79t). No further clarification is provided. Teachers are not alerted to the numerous other student misconceptions identified in the research literature-for example, the idea that organisms and materials in the environment are very different types of matter and are not transformable into each other (Anderson, Sheldon, & Dubay, 1990; Bell & Brook, 1984; Roth & Anderson, 1987). Also, teachers are not cautioned that some students see ecosystems as merely chains of events and processes in terms of creating and destroying matter, rather than in terms of transforming matter from one substance to another (Smith & Anderson, 1986).

Assisting teachers in identifying their students’ ideas (Rating = Poor)

Although the textbook's Flex Your Brain and Tying to Previous Knowledge component could help teachers to identify their own students' ideas, in practice, neither is used for this purpose. The Teacher's Guide indicates that the Flex Your Brain feature can be used for several purposes, including eliciting students' ideas (p. 29T). However, it is not used this way in the chapters containing material on the key life science ideas. All instances in which the material specifically recommends the use of Flex Your Brain in the context of these ideas appear at the end of a section intended for the purpose of assessment (pp. 322t, 500t). No suggestion is made that these same questions could be used to find out what students think about a topic prior to instruction.

Most of the suggestions made in the Tying to Previous Knowledge feature are too general to be helpful-as, for instance, in the following example:

Lead students in a discussion that includes what they already know about plants. Many students will be able to identify common plants by leaf, seed, flower, or fruit. Then have students brainstorm a list of products they use that originate from plants. Be sure they identify nonfood items such as clothing or building materials in their lists. [p. 257t]
Ask students to describe and give examples of how energy flows through an ecosystem. [p. 479t]

The second of these examples is followed by this answer: "Energy moves from one organism to another through a series of interactions called a food web"-the answer that most teachers will look for. However, none of the questions engage students on their own terms, as would be the case if the questions were comparable to the following two hypothetical ones: (1) "Have you ever put your hand into a pile of grass that has been sitting for a while? Where do you think the heat in there comes from?" or (2) "Let's look at an aquarium and think about all the different organisms in there. What gets passed around from one organism to another? Why do you think so?"

Addressing commonly held ideas (Rating = Poor)

Commonly held ideas reported in the research literature are not addressed. The sole mention of a misconception (that plants take in food from the soil) is accompanied by a statement of the correct idea: “Plants obtain a variety of minerals from the soil—calcium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, phosphorus, nitrogen, iron—by absorption through their roots, but these materials are not used as food. Plants produce their own food by the process of photosynthesis” (p. 79t).

No questions, tasks, or activities are provided to help students progress from commonly reported misconceptions in the literature, nor are any provided to build on students’ potentially useful but incomplete initial ideas.

III. Engaging Students with Relevant Phenomena

Providing variety of phenomena (Rating = Poor)

Few phenomena are provided to support the key ideas. For the idea that plants make sugars from carbon dioxide and water (Idea c1), the supplementary Laboratory Manual includes an activity in which students are to observe that more starch is formed when plants are grown with extra versus normal amounts of carbon dioxide (p. 317t; Lab 30, pp. 79-82). For the idea that plants use the energy from light to make "energy-rich" sugars (Idea d1), students are to observe that plants produce more starch when they are grown in the light than in the dark (p. 317t; Lab 30, pp. 79-82). For the idea that decomposers transform dead organisms into reusable substances (Idea c4), a performance assessment task (p. 227t) and a unit project (pp. 254-255s) involve students in observing what conditions result in the fastest disappearance of a compost pile. (However, the emphasis is on finding the best compost techniques, rather than on the role of composting organisms in recycling materials for other organisms to use.)  The material contains no other phenomena were found that are linked directly to the key life science ideas.

Providing vivid experiences (Rating = Poor)

The phenomenon in which students observe that more starch is produced when plants are grown in the light is firsthand and reasonably vivid (p. 317t; Lab 30, pp. 79-82). But the set of firsthand and vicarious experiences is not sufficient to make the key ideas plausible.

IV. Developing and Using Scientific Ideas

Introducing terms meaningfully (Rating = Poor)

Terms are not used primarily to facilitate thinking and to promote effective communication about key ideas and relevant phenomena. While some of them are introduced in the context of phenomena, most are not. For example, in introducing the term "consumers," the text asks students to think about certain "consuming" experiences they have both had and observed, namely, eating vegetables and watching sheep graze (p. 78s).

The term "producers," however, is introduced only in the context of abstractions:

Living things are divided into two groups based on how they obtain their food energy. These two groups are producers and consumers. Organisms that make their own food, such as the plants pictured in Figure 3-15, are called producers. [p. 78s]
Producers change light energy into chemical energy in a process called photosynthesis. During photosynthesis, the energy from sunlight is used to make a sugar from carbon dioxide (CO2) and water. [p. 78s]

Producers might have been introduced with a firsthand experience, such as observing that a potted tree can increase greatly in mass even though the soil in the pot loses very little mass; or that if water and minerals are supplied, blueberry plants grown in strong light produce more fruit than those grown in low light.

Photosynthesis (pp. 78s, 314-323s) and respiration (p. 314s) also are introduced solely in the context of abstractions.

The text does not restrict the use of technical terms to those needed to communicate intelligibly about the key ideas. Even though section introductions produce a few new terms (e.g., "metabolism," "producer," "consumer" [p. 78s]), the text itself uses many other terms (e.g., "chloroplasts," "mitochondria," "respiration," "photosynthesis," "metabolism," and "fermentation" [pp. 78-80s]; "stomata," "guard cells," "epidermis," and "palisade layer" [pp. 294-295s]).

Representing ideas effectively (Rating = Poor)

There are few representations to help make the key ideas comprehensible to students, and many of the representations included are likely to be severely misleading or incomprehensible. For example, a comparison of photosynthesis and respiration includes a diagram of a chloroplast connected with arrows to a mitochondrion (p. 79s). The arrows are labeled with either “O2, glucose” coming from the chloroplast and going to the mitochondrion, or “CO2, H2O” going the other way. Unfortunately, such a presentation suggests that the processes cancel each other out, with no net production of sugar and oxygen.

The chloroplast-mitochondrion diagram is accompanied by the word and chemical equations for photosynthesis and respiration. The fact that the products of one process are exactly the reactants of the other and appear in the same quantity may lead students even more to think that the processes cancel one another out. Nowhere does the material reveal that the rate of photosynthesis is far greater than that of respiration and that this difference is the reason plants produce enough food (and oxygen) during photosynthesis both for their own needs and for the needs of other organisms.

Furthermore, the equations presented in this and other representations indicate that energy is a reactant in photosynthesis and a product in respiration, but there is no indication that energy is stored in the sugar in between these processes. This representation could lead students to conclude that energy is turned into matter in photosynthesis and is produced from matter in respiration—or that energy can disappear.

Demonstrating use of knowledge (Rating = Poor)

Neither the student text nor the teacher's notes provide instances in which the use of key life science ideas is modeled. Processes such as photosynthesis, respiration, and the flow of matter and energy through ecosystems are explained in terms of abstractions, rather than by using the key ideas to explain phenomena.

Providing practice (Rating = Poor)

Practice tasks are provided for only some of the key ideas, and rarely are the number and variety of these tasks sufficient. For example, students are given the following opportunities to practice using the idea that plants make sugars from carbon dioxide and water (Idea c1):
Have students use the figure [Figure 12-4] to trace the pathway of each of the reactants and products of photosynthesis in a plant. [p. 319t, Visual Learning]
The products of photosynthesis are:
a.       sugar and oxygen
b.       carbon dioxide and water
c.       chlorophyll and sugar
d.       carbon dioxide and oxygen.
[p. 336s, item 10]

How do the raw materials and end products of photosynthesis and respiration compare? [p. 336s, item 12]

The text provides only one practice task for the idea that plants use the energy from sunlight to make "energy-rich" sugars (Idea d1): "Why is it important that plants grow toward the light?" (p. 336s, item 13). For the idea that other organisms get their energy by breaking down sugars, releasing some of the energy as heat (part of Idea d3), the following practice task is included: "Why might there be many more mitochondria in muscle cells than in other types of cells?" (p. 88s, item 12).

Some novel tasks are included (e.g., p. 336s, item 13; p. 88s, item 12 [as above]). For most ideas, however, practice tasks involve simple reiteration of what is in the text. The material does not provide a sequence of questions that increase in complexity, nor does it provide guided practice with feedback.

V. Promoting Students' Thinking about Phenomena, Experiences, and Knowledge

Encouraging students to explain their ideas (Rating = Poor)

Despite an elaborate introduction on Developing Thinking Skills in the Teacher Wraparound Edition (pp. 24-31T), there is nothing in the material to suggest that any components are intended to be used to have students explain their own ideas during instruction (as opposed to eliciting their initial ideas before instruction, or having them respond with the scientifically correct idea).

However, a few components could be used for this purpose, if teachers were inclined to do so. For example, in the Flex Your Brain activities on photosynthesis (p. 80t) and on the cycling of matter (p. 500t), students are to ask a question, guess an answer, pursue more information on their own, and consider what they have learned about the topic. Both sets of activities are recommended for use during the assessment part of the material's learning cycle. Bellringer activities also contain helpful statements (e.g., p. 314t), but they are intended to be used to elicit students' ideas before instruction, and students are not asked then or later to clarify or justify their ideas.

Clearly, other components are looking for the right answer rather than the students' ideas (e.g., pp. 27-29t, Chapter 1 Review; p. 319t, Visual Learning; p. 319t, Discussion Question; p. 323s, Section Wrap-up; p. 479t, Theme Connection; p. 487t, Science Journal). In their present form, these questions do not serve to routinely encourage students to express their ideas. Although a few Science Journal statements (pp. 257s, 321t) ask for students' ideas explicitly and provide opportunities for each student to express his or her ideas, students are not asked to clarify or justify their ideas. Nor are suggestions provided regarding how students can get feedback (other than the right answer), or how teachers can use student responses to diagnose errors.

Guiding student interpretation and reasoning (Rating = Poor)

Even though several questions follow each laboratory activity, the individual questions are not designed or sequenced to help students move from either phenomena or their own ideas to the scientific ideas about matter and energy transformation. For example, in the cell respiration laboratory activity in chapter 3 (in which students are asked to compare carbon dioxide production by live and boiled yeast [p. 80t; Lab 7, pp. 21-22]), the questions focus students on the gas produced in each test tube and on naming the process. The same is the case for the MiniLAB on photosynthesis in chapter 12 (p. 318t).

Rarely are questions provided to guide student interpretation of text readings. In the text treating the key life science ideas, there is only one such question found (accompanying a drawing of a mitochondrion), and it calls for students to repeat what is stated in the text—the products of respiration (p. 322s).

Encouraging students to think about what they have learned (Rating = Poor)

Although the tasks provided are not often helpful, the Flex Your Brain component is clearly intended to encourage students to think about what they have learned (self-monitoring). The teacher’s notes explain:
Flex Your Brain provides students with an opportunity to explore a topic in an organized, self-checking way, and then identify how they arrived at their responses during each step of their investigation. The activity incorporates many of the skills of critical thinking. It helps students to consider their own thinking and learn about thinking from their peers. [p. 29T]

The Flex Your Brain work sheet gives students a chance to revise their initial ideas based on what they have learned. They are asked to record “What do I already know?” as they begin their investigations, and, at the end of their exploration, they are asked the following two questions: “Do I think differently?” and “What do I know now?” (p. 21s).

Instructions to students are given in the context of explaining the importance of critical thinking skills:

“Flex Your Brain” is an activity that will help you think about and examine your way of thinking. It takes you through steps of exploration from what you already know and believe, to new conclusions and awareness. Then, it encourages you to review and talk about the steps you took. [p. 20s]

Unfortunately, in the two instances in which the Flex Your Brain activity is used relevant to the key ideas, only topic headings are specified—photosynthesis (p. 322t) and the cycling of matter (p. 500t). Although these general topics encompass many of the key ideas, specific questions are needed to ensure that students will include ideas about the nature of food or matter and energy transformation in their considerations.

VI. Assessing Progress

Aligning assessment to goals (Rating = Poor)

For the end-of-instruction assessment, the material provides in two separate resource books (Chapter Review and Assessment: Chapter and Unit Tests) a two-page review and a four-page chapter test for each chapter. These components of chapters 3, 12, and 18 have been evaluated. None of the key life science ideas are assessed adequately. Some key ideas are not assessed at all; others are addressed by an insufficient number of assessment items. For the ideas that plants make sugars from carbon dioxide and water (Idea c1) and that plants use light energy to make "energy-rich" sugars (Idea d1), students are asked to describe the process of photosynthesis (Assessment: Chapter and Unit Tests, p. 16, Chapter 3 Test), to give two reasons why photosynthesis is important, and to write the word equation (Chapter Review, p. 28, Chapter 12 Review). In addition, they are asked to think about the fact that some bacteria live on the bottom of the ocean and to consider what that suggests about how the bacteria make food (Assessment: Chapter and Unit Tests, p. 123, Chapter 18 Test). For the idea that organisms break down sugars into simpler substances (Idea c2), students are asked what causes dough to rise and to describe the process of respiration (Assessment: Chapter and Unit Tests, pp. 15-16, Chapter 3 Test). For the idea that decomposers transform dead organisms into simpler reusable substances (Idea c4), students are to describe "the importance of chemical recycling in the biosphere" (Chapter Review, p. 40, Chapter 18 Review). The recycling query also can be used to assess the idea that matter and energy are transferred from one organism to another repeatedly (part of Idea e), as can the following item: "Using grass seeds, mice, and hawks, explain how energy is transferred through a food chain" (Chapter Review, p. 40, Chapter 18 Review). No other tasks are provided to evaluate students on their understanding of the key life science ideas.

In addition, the material includes a few items that assess students' familiarity with relevant technical terms. For example, students complete the sentence "_____ break down waste material and dead animals to get energy" by choosing the appropriate word from the following: consumers, decomposers, prey, and producers (Assessment: Chapter and Unit Tests, p. 123, Chapter 18 Test); the answer is "decomposer"). These items are judged to be unaligned with the key ideas-in this case, the idea that decomposers transform dead organisms into simpler substances (part of Idea c4)-because students do not have to know the key ideas in order to answer the items correctly.

Testing for understanding (Rating = Poor)

Of the relevant assessment items described under the previous criterion, only one requires the application of a key idea: "Using grass seeds, mice, and hawks, explain how energy is transferred through a food chain" (Chapter Review, p. 40, Chapter 18 Review). This single item is clearly insufficient to assess students' understanding of the key ideas.

Using assessment to inform instruction (Rating = Poor)

In the introduction to this textbook, under the heading "Content Assessment," the Teacher Wraparound Edition states that "Glencoe Life Science contains numerous strategies and formative checkpoints for evaluating student progress toward mastery of science concepts" (p. 45T). The Section Wrap-up and Chapter Review features in the student text are identified as components that can help teachers to determine whether any substantial reteaching is needed.

This material does not include suggestions about how to probe beyond students' initial responses or how to modify instruction according to students' responses. Most important of all, it rarely includes quality questions that can help well-informed teachers to diagnose students' remaining difficulties with respect to the key life science ideas. Very few questions are aligned to key ideas, and most of the questions require standard responses from the text. For example, to explain the difference between producers and consumers (p. 81s), students need only to copy from the text given three pages earlier.

Students also are asked to explain how the energy used by all living things on Earth can be traced back to sunlight (p. 81s); what would happen to the consumers in a lake if all the producers died (the answer is simplistic-see page 89st); why there might be more mitochondria in muscle cells than in other types of cells (p. 88s); how the flow of energy through an ecosystem compares with the cycling of matter (p. 501s); and why decomposers are vital to the cycling of matter in an ecosystem (p. 507s).

VII. Enhancing the Science Learning Environment

Providing teacher content support (Minimal support is provided.)

The material provides minimal support in alerting teachers to how ideas have been simplified for students to comprehend and what the more sophisticated versions are. Content background notes in the Teacher Wraparound Edition usually summarize the student text (e.g., p. 78t), offer tidbits of questionable relevance (e.g., p. 314t), or present additional terms (e.g., p. 496t). Overall, the teacher content support is brief, localized, and fragmented.

The material rarely provides sufficiently detailed answers to questions in the student text for teachers to understand and interpret various student responses. Most answers are brief and require further explanation (for example, "The graph will be determined by the number of seeds used in the experiment" [p. 491t, Do the Experiment, item 3]); often, they emphasize a "right-answer" approach (for example, "Phenol red changes to orange when carbon dioxide is added" [p. 318t, MiniLAB, item 2]).

The material provides minimal support in recommending resources for improving the teacher's understanding of key ideas. While the material lists references that could help teachers improve their understanding of key ideas (e.g., "Enger, Eldon and Bradley Smith. Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships. Dubuque, IA: W. C. Brown Publishing, 1991" [p. 61T]), the lists lack annotations about what kinds of information the references provide or how they may be helpful.

Encouraging curiosity and questioning (Minimal support is provided.)

The material provides a few suggestions for how to encourage students’ questions and guide their search for answers. A generic Flex Your Brain work sheet encourages students to pose a question about a topic studied and gives them three broad guiding questions to use in their search for answers: “What do I already know?,” “How can I find out?,” and “What do I know now [after exploration]?” (p. 29T). Teacher’s notes suggest topics students can explore (e.g., “photosynthesis” [p. 322t]) but provide no other guidance.

The material provides a few suggestions for how to respect and value students’ ideas. Introductory teacher’s notes about cooperative learning state that students will “recognize…the strengths of others’ [perspectives],” be presented with “the idea that there is no one, ‘ready-made’ answer” (p. 24T), and “respect other people and their ideas” (p. 46T). Introductory teacher’s notes also state that student responses may vary in concept mapping tasks. Teachers are thus instructed to “[l]ook for the conceptual strength of student responses, not absolute accuracy” (p. 30T). In addition, Design Your Own Experiment activities are structured to be open-ended, allowing students to pursue a laboratory task in various ways. However, teacher notes often give specific expected outcomes for these activities that may limit their intended open-ended nature (e.g., pp. 82–83t).

The material provides a few suggestions for how to raise questions such as “How do we know? What is the evidence?” and “Are there alternative explanations or other ways of solving the problem that could be better?” However, it does not encourage students to pose such questions themselves. Specifically, the material includes a few tasks that ask students to provide evidence or reasons in their responses (e.g., p. 83st, Do the Experiment, item 3; p. 318st, MiniLAB Analysis, item 3).

The material provides a few suggestions for how to avoid dogmatism. Introductory teacher’s notes state that “[s]cience is not just a collection of facts for students to memorize” but is “a process of applying those observations and intuitions to situations and problems, formulating hypotheses, and drawing conclusions” (p. 25T). The first chapter portrays the nature of science as a human enterprise that proceeds by trial and error and uses many skills familiar to students (pp. 4–29st). However, most of the text is generally presented in a static, authoritative manner with little reference to the work of particular, practicing scientists, and single specific responses are expected for most student tasks.

The material does not provide examples of classroom interactions (e.g., dialogue boxes, vignettes, or video clips) that illustrate appropriate ways to respond to student questions or ideas. However, a limited sense of desirable student-student interactions may be gained from procedural directions for laboratories and cooperative group activities (e.g., pp. 490–491st, Activity 18-2; p. 497t, Activity; Cooperative Learning in the Science Classroom resource book, pp. 17–18).

Supporting all students (Some support is provided.)

The material generally avoids stereotypes or language that might be offensive to a particular group. For example, several photographs include a diverse cultural mix of students and adults (e.g., pp. 19s, 319s, 675s).

The material provides some illustrations of the contributions of women and minorities to science and as role models. While the introductory teacher's notes state that, "No single culture has a monopoly on the development of scientific knowledge" (p. 38T), most of the contributions of women and minorities appear in separate sections entitled People and Science (e.g., p. 334st). In addition, Cultural Diversity teacher notes highlight specific cultural contributions related to chapter topics (e.g., p. 498t). A separate Multicultural Connections resource book contains short readings and questions about individual scientists or groups addressing text-related issues in many parts of the world. For example, the book includes a reading activity about an African female marine biologist studying the increase in the population of sea urchins in the Indian Ocean along the Kenyan coast (e.g., Multicultural Connections, p. 39). All of these sections highlighting cultural contributions are interesting and informative but may not be seen by students as central to the material because they are presented in sidebars, supplemental materials, and teacher notes.

The material suggests multiple formats for students to express their ideas during instruction, including individual investigations and journal writing (e.g., p. 313st, Explore Activity), cooperative group activities (e.g., p. 497t, Activity), laboratory investigations (e.g., pp. 82-83st, Activity 3-2), whole class discussions (e.g., p. 78t, Tying to Previous Knowledge), essay questions (e.g., p. 323st, Section Wrap-up, item 2), and concept mapping (e.g., p. 507st, item 24). In addition, multiple formats are suggested for assessment, including oral discussion (e.g., p. 83t, Assessment), essay (e.g., Assessment: Chapter and Unit Tests, p. 125, item 9), performance (e.g., p. 500t), and portfolio (e.g., p. 81t). However, the material does not usually provide a variety of alternatives for the same task (except in rare instances for special needs students).

The material does not routinely include specific suggestions about how teachers can modify activities for students with special needs. However, the Teacher Wraparound Edition and supplemental Program Resources (including reinforcement and enrichment work sheets, a study guide, and activities with transparencies) provide additional activities and resources for students of specific ability levels. At the beginning of each chapter, teacher's notes link the various chapter activities to different learning styles (e.g., p. 480t, Learning Styles). Several of the visual-spatial activities are also coded LEP for students with limited English proficiency (e.g., p. 497t, Activity). For Spanish speakers, there are English/Spanish audiocassettes, which summarize the student text in both languages, and a Spanish Resources book, which translates key ideas and activities for each chapter. Teacher's notes about Meeting Individual Needs at the beginning of the Teacher Wraparound Edition highlight the importance of providing "all students with a variety of ways to learn, apply, and be assessed on the concepts" (p. 39T). However, the placement of supplemental resources in individual booklets separate from the main text may discourage their use, and the special needs codes within chapters may discourage teachers from using those activities with all students.

The material provides some strategies to validate students' relevant personal and social experiences with scientific ideas. Many text sections begin with a brief reference to a specific personal experience students may have had that relates to the presented scientific concepts (e.g., p. 314s). In addition, some tasks ask students about particular, personal experiences they may have had or suggest specific experiences they could have. For example, teacher's notes ask students to use the periodic table to identify the elements in particular foods and cleaning products (p. 64t, Tying to Previous Knowledge). However, the material rarely encourages students to contribute relevant experiences of their own choice to the science classroom and sometimes does not adequately link the specified personal experiences to the scientific ideas being studied (e.g., p. 500t, Community Connection). Overall, support is brief and localized.