The first days of school offer teachers an opportunity to set a positive tone and convey to students that their classrooms are supportive learning environments for all. Free chapter excerpts offered in the August 2011 issue of NSTA’s Book Beat include helpful tips from NSTA Press authors. Consider adding several of them to your classroom toolkit this fall.
Jill Swango and Sally Steward open Help! I’’m Teaching Middle School Science (grades 6–8) with a wonderful collection of ideas, games, and activities designed to captivate students’ enthusiasm for science and problem solving. Book Beat offers the free chapter “The First Day,” which provides clever icebreaker activities like The Simplest Quiz and Just Read the Directions. These opening activities can help create a comfortable, lively, and active atmosphere for learning. Elementary teachers can use author John Eichinger’s activity “What Do You See? Visual Observation” (from Activities Linking Science With Math, K-4) to boost students’ observation skills; students observe closely and then sketch familiar and unfamiliar objects, honing key science process skills as they go. High school teachers will find a wealth of ideas in Lynn Bell and John Park’s chapter “Digital Images and Video for Teaching Science” from Technology in the Secondary Science Classroom (grades 6–12). The chapter includes suggestions for using images or video to introduce just about any science topic and then following up with creative questioning to capture students’ attention and set the context for later comprehension of the topic being investigated. As Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot just by watching.” Check out the August issue of NSTA’s Book Beat for these resources plus tips on how to ask the right questions and one resource that might address that question “when we will use this in real life?” Best wishes for the new school year!