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  Topic: Evolution Books for Middle School, A teacher in need< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
argystokes



Posts: 766
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 15 2007,21:39   

Mrs. Stokes is a middle school (that's 12-14 year-old students, for you non-Murkins) science teacher/intern. The school has only been teaching a semester of science each year (a travesty!) and evolution hasn't really made its way into the curriculum. Eighth grade science is going to be expanded to full-year next year, and evolution will be taught. When Mrs. Stokes went to the library today, she found that there were only two books on evolution, both of them horrid. Both books consisted entirely of proposing what animals in the future will look like, with all the crazy examples you'd expect in a science fiction novel.

I'm looking for suggestions for good evolution reading materials or even lesson plans. Most of the stuff on the Berkeley site is more directed at high schoolers. If anyone has any ideas for some good stuff (books or even lesson plans) for 13-14 year-olds whose previous exposure to evolution will be pretty small, please give me your suggestions.

Thanks!

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"Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?" -Calvin

  
Ichthyic



Posts: 3325
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 15 2007,23:30   

well, if it were me, I would start with something like what the current standards are, and simply search on the requirements to see if there are well reviewed texts or books that cover them.

example:

http://books.nap.edu/readingroom/books/nses/6d.html

in that standards listing (for middle school students), we see:

Quote
DIVERSITY AND ADAPTATIONS OF ORGANISMS

Millions of species of animals, plants, and microorganisms are alive today. Although different species might look dissimilar, the unity among organisms becomes apparent from an analysis of internal structures, the similarity of their chemical processes, and the evidence of common ancestry.

Biological evolution accounts for the diversity of species developed through gradual processes over many generations. Species acquire many of their unique characteristics through biological adaptation, which involves the selection of naturally occurring variations in populations. Biological adaptations include changes in structures, behaviors, or physiology that enhance survival and reproductive success in a particular environment.

Extinction of a species occurs when the environment changes and the adaptive characteristics of a species are insufficient to allow its survival. Fossils indicate that many organisms that lived long ago are extinct. Extinction of species is common; most of the species that have lived on the earth no longer exist.


so given that broad understanding of what should be expected of middle school students to learn, I would spend some time at the bookstore or online looking at books that match that general criteria and are well reviewed.

that said, I did find this, which might be helpful:

http://www.swarthmore.edu/NatSci....ces.htm

there is a decent list of potential books that might fit your SO's situation, and some lesson plans too.

ya gotta love a site where the first paragraph calls it like it is:

Quote
According to several polls, most public school biology teachers do not accept evolution as a satisfactory explanation of how life changes over time. These teachers believe that Creationism, Intelligent Design Creationism, etc., should be offered along with the "theory" of evolution, and these people sometimes act on these inclinations. This site is not for these teachers, who arguably chose the wrong profession in the first place.


yup.

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"And the sea will grant each man new hope..."

-CC

  
BWE



Posts: 1898
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 16 2007,00:02   

Ok, my wife is a middle school science teacher and has been for some time. I have personally designed dozens of lesson plans. So I speak with a sort of semi-vicarious authority here.

[Advice]
Don't go down that path. Design cool experiments. Have them look in microscopes. Lots. Make things. Have them write poetry about what they observe. Play dumb. Make them figure as much as possible out by observation. The biggest thing that they take away is the experience. They figure out how -maybe that should be in italics- how scientists have figured stuff out. Look in pondwater. Do a nature journal. Make hypotheses, then observe something and see if the hypotheses turn out. Catalog a shovelfull of dirt from various places. Find equipment and have them use it. Scientific equipment rocks. Explain density- no matter what science you are teaching.

Don't read them a book. The ones who come in able to read well will feel patronized and the ones that can't will be frustrated.

[/advice]

Worth what you paid for it. The standards are published and she has to teach them anyway. Might as well have fun with it.

--------------
Who said that ev'ry wish would be heard and answered
When wished on the morning star
Somebody thought of that, and someone believed it
Look what it's done so far

The Daily Wingnut

   
Mike PSS



Posts: 428
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 16 2007,09:28   

I would second BWE's comment with an addition (of course).

[advice]
Having textual support for the hands on experiment will help of course.  Purchase the good book suggestions from Icky.  When you hold these experiments have the teacher check out the books and quickly present chapter/pages that are relevent to the class (instead of listing it on a worksheet).  Then tell the students where these books are in the library.  Don't directly assign work or questions from the books themselves.  When test or project time comes the interested and driven students will migrate to the library anyway and read the book.
[/advice]

This works with 12-14 year olds or 20-60 year olds (the group I teach sometimes about chemical engineering subjects).

  
notta_skeptic



Posts: 48
Joined: June 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 16 2007,20:47   

Quote (argystokes @ Feb. 15 2007,22:39)
Mrs. Stokes is a middle school (that's 12-14 year-old students, for you non-Murkins) science teacher/intern. The school has only been teaching a semester of science each year (a travesty!) and evolution hasn't really made its way into the curriculum. Eighth grade science is going to be expanded to full-year next year, and evolution will be taught. When Mrs. Stokes went to the library today, she found that there were only two books on evolution, both of them horrid. Both books consisted entirely of proposing what animals in the future will look like, with all the crazy examples you'd expect in a science fiction novel.

I'm looking for suggestions for good evolution reading materials or even lesson plans. Most of the stuff on the Berkeley site is more directed at high schoolers. If anyone has any ideas for some good stuff (books or even lesson plans) for 13-14 year-olds whose previous exposure to evolution will be pretty small, please give me your suggestions.

Argy,

Try the   National Academy Press. I was a middle school science teacher for 13 years, and found that having the students read a little,  then do a lot of activities, was the best way for them to learn. There are literally thousands of good lesson plans across the Internet. If she joins the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), she can also join the biology listserv and send in her request. She will get dozens of replies to help her out.

The National Academy Press also has developed extensive educational resources about teaching evolution. Have her check out National Academies educational resources for more texts. Any of these will be better written and more accurate than any middle school science textbook she can find from the major publishers. (I evaluated them for years.)

Each state has different standards when it comes to evolution. Some are rather vague (those in the south, particularly), but some are extremely specific. They are available on your state department of education website.

Hope this helps!

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"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former." Albert Einstein

  
argystokes



Posts: 766
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 16 2007,21:32   

Thanks, everyone! (not to discourage further contributions, of course). She did teach a very short evolution unit about a month ago, which was unfortunately massively disrupted due to snow-related school cancellations. The good news: no complaints from parents, and the thing that the students wanted to learn most about that they didn't was human evolution.

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"Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?" -Calvin

  
MidnightVoice



Posts: 380
Joined: Aug. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 17 2007,16:16   

Quote (argystokes @ Feb. 16 2007,21:32)
She did teach a very short evolution unit about a month ago, which was unfortunately massively disrupted due to snow-related school cancellations. The good news: no complaints from parents, and the thing that the students wanted to learn most about that they didn't was human evolution.

The old man in the sky did it  :D

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If I fly the coop some time
And take nothing but a grip
With the few good books that really count
It's a necessary trip

I'll be gone with the girl in the gold silk jacket
The girl with the pearl-driller's hands

  
Steviepinhead



Posts: 532
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 17 2007,16:50   

Seems to me that PZ has a bio/evo booklist somewhere in his archives, which includes a section of younger readers.

I'd go look for a link, but I'm late for a movie!

  
argystokes



Posts: 766
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 17 2007,16:59   

Quote (Steviepinhead @ Feb. 17 2007,14:50)
Seems to me that PZ has a bio/evo booklist somewhere in his archives, which includes a section of younger readers.

I'd go look for a link, but I'm late for a movie!

Thanks, Pinhead, i've found it. I won't be able to join you folks tonight, by the way. Have lotsa fun!

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"Why waste time learning, when ignorance is instantaneous?" -Calvin

  
deadman_932



Posts: 3094
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: Feb. 18 2007,15:57   

Ahem. 2 points:
1. There's only ONE book that you heathens need, and it was written long ago by a man from Galilee. Or Bethlehem. Or Jerusalem. One of those dirty foreign cities.

2. Evilushuns R bad 4 U.

'Nuff said.

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AtBC Award for Thoroughness in the Face of Creationism

  
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