Curriculum Materials

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As we have discussed, the current store of curriculum materials for K-S science teachers is quite uneven. Analysis of science textbooks suggest that, by and large, those used in American classrooms are of a low quality. These texts typically lack coherent attention to concepts in favor of including many topics, and they rarely provide teachers with guidance about how students think about science (Kesidou and Roseman, 2002). Full-scale K-S or K-12 systems of science curricula do not typically provide the coherence or teacher guidance that is necessary to support high-quality instruction. Short of comprehensive curriculum packages, many primary and middle schools use commercially available science modules or kits for select units or in particular grades. These kits can facilitate teaching science as practice, although they are limited in some important respects.

Designed to teach major concepts and the scientific process by engaging students in guided inquiry, curriculum kits or modules are aligned with the national standards. Ideally, local decision makers would have at their disposal a plethora of reliable data and guidance to make decisions about selecting and using modules. Useful information would include evidence of their effectiveness with similar student populations, careful analysis of apparent alignment with state standards, and clear indications of the skills and training their teachers would need in order to use these materials effectively.

Such information is not widely available.Although rich empirical data on the effectiveness of curriculum modules is not available, both the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Project 2061 and the 'National Research Council have produced useful guides to facilitate curriculum materials selection. Selecting Instnsctional Materials (National Research Council, 1999), for example, describes how school districts, schools, or groups of science teachers can systematically develop internal capacity to make informed decisions in selecting instructional materials. It also provides processes and tools that can guide their collective work: description of the facilitator role, methods for training reviewers, how to carry out reviews, as well as forms that can be used in these processes. Involving teachers in systematic analysis of curriculum materials can have real benefits, including identifying high-quality materials, providing teachers who participate in the review process with knowledge of the curriculum and bolstering their capacity to critically analyze curriculum materials.

Managing curriculum modules may also present challenges. Modules typically include consumable materials that must be replaced after they are used. Since the modules are expensive, schools often ask teachers to share them, and replenishing the supplies becomes a problem. Teachers often have trouble finding the necessary supplies and either do not use the modules or use them inappropriately. A solution to this problem is for districts or schools to set up systems for replenishing the modules and distributing them across classrooms or "materials resources centers." These centers shift the burden of preparing materials from the individual teacher to a specialized unit in the system. They provide space, deliver materials to schools, and ensure that both reusable and consumable materials are included and adequately stocked before they are delivered to teachers.

One potential limitation to shared kits is that reliance on them can limit the degree of school and district-level coordination of instruction as kits are frequently shared within or across schools. For example, if four schools share two sets of kits, it would be difficult to teach the units in a clearly defined, developmental learning progression across classrooms. What is more, when teachers at a given grade level are working on topics asynchronously, it can complicate efforts to pool the intellectual resources of the group. Science teacher learning communities that collaborate on planning, teaching, and assessing science instruction will typically work on a common set of tasks that are relevant to their current unit of instruction. Working on different modules at different times of the year could complicate and weaken collaborations. For this part, learning a foreign language needs a leaning tools, many people choose Rosetta Stone Arabic and Rosetta Stone Chinese to learn Arabic and Chinese.



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Asta Ciowy has 1 articles online


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Curriculum Materials

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This article was published on 2011/03/31