AAAS Project 2061 Middle Grades Science Textbooks Evaluation

Criteria for Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Support

Category I. Providing a Sense of Purpose

Conveying unit purpose. Does the material convey an overall sense of purpose and direction that is understandable and motivating to students?

Conveying lesson purpose. Does the material convey the purpose of each lesson and its relationship to others?

Justifying activity sequence. Does the material involve students in a logical or strategic sequence of activities (versus just a collection of activities)?

Category II. Taking Account of Student Ideas

Attending to prerequisite knowledge and skills. Does the material specify prerequisite knowledge/skills that are necessary to the learning of the benchmark(s)?

Alerting teacher to commonly held student ideas. Does the material alert teachers to commonly held student ideas (both troublesome and helpful) such as those described in Benchmarks Chapter 15: The Research Base?

Assisting teacher in identifying own students' ideas. Does the material include suggestions for teachers to find out what their students think about familiar phenomena related to a benchmark before the scientific ideas are introduced?

Addressing commonly held ideas. Does the material attempt to address commonly held student ideas?

Category III. Engaging Students with Relevant Phenomena

Providing variety of phenomena. Does the material provide multiple and varied phenomena to support the benchmark idea(s)?

Providing vivid experiences. Does the material include activities that provide firsthand experiences with phenomena when practical or provide students with a vicarious sense of the phenomena when not practical?

Category IV. Developing and Using Scientific Ideas

Introducing terms meaningfully. Does the material introduce technical terms only in conjunction with experience with the idea or process and only as needed to facilitate thinking and promote effective communication?

Representing ideas effectively. Does the material include accurate and comprehensible representations of scientific ideas?

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

Providing practice. Does the material provide tasks/questions for students to practice skills or using knowledge in a variety of situations?

Category V. Promoting Student Thinking about Phenomena, Experiences, and Knowledge

Encouraging students to explain their ideas. Does the material routinely include suggestions for having each student express, clarify, justify, and represent his/her ideas? Are suggestions made for when and how students will get feedback from peers and the teacher?

Guiding student interpretation and reasoning. Does the material include tasks and/or question sequences to guide student interpretation and reasoning about experiences with phenomena and readings?

Encouraging students to think about what they've learned. Does the material suggest ways to have students check their own progress?

Category VI. Assessing Progress

Aligning assessment to goals. Assuming a content match between the curriculum material and this benchmark, are assessment items included that match the same benchmark?

Testing for understanding. Does the material include assessment tasks that require application of ideas and avoid allowing students a trivial way out, like using a formula or repeating a memorized term without understanding?

Using assessment to inform instruction. Are some assessments embedded in the curriculum along the way, with advice to teachers as to how they might use the results to choose or modify activities?

Category VII. Enhancing the Science Learning Environment

Providing teacher content support. Would the material help teachers improve their understanding of science, mathematics, and technology necessary for teaching the material?

Encouraging curiosity and questioning. Does the material help teachers to create a classroom environment that welcomes student curiosity, rewards creativity, encourages a spirit of healthy questioning, and avoids dogmatism?

Supporting all students. Does the material help teachers to create a classroom community that encourages high expectations for all students, that enables all students to experience success, and that provides all students a feeling of belonging in the science classroom?


Continued: Helping Students Learn the Kinetic Molecular Theory