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Discussion: Science Instructional Materials for Middle School: Informing Future Initiatives

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posted by: Tom Archer on August 16, 1999 at 3:43PM
subject: Middle School Science
If your project is currently implementing curriculum how has it been
Our district adopted Glencoe Science Interactions three years ago. We
are in the process of moving from a junior high system (Grades 7-9), to a
middle school configuration (Grades 6-8).

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum from your
perspective or from the perspective of your teachers?
The strength of the program is that it is interdisciplinary and has
hands on activities for students.
Weakness, teachers express concerns related to the depth of content

What do you think teachers and administrators want/need in instructional
materials to provide high-quality science education to their students?
I think that teachers and administrators both want instructional
materials that are relevant and engage the middle school student in hands on
minds on activities. In addition, they want updates and renewals on a
continuing basis. Science is not a static discipline, so our materials and
professional development should not be static either.

- Should new curriculum materials for middle school be in earth, life, and
physical science, or multidisciplinary, or interdisciplinary? Should they
all modular or year long? Should they be integrated across subject
Should they have texts that go along with the activities, as the high
programs have? Would you recommend a social/societal context, a historical
context, or a traditional one?
I believe middle school students have broad interests and need a broad
scope in curriculum, such as a multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary
approach. They also need to see the relevancy of what they are learning, so
if the multidisciplinary format is a vehicle that brings the science
content into their lives and adds meaning then that is the vehicle we should
use. However, I think we need to be careful of always using the
multidisciplinary approach in all of our teaching to accommodate teams.
The teachers also express that they want the text. I feel that this adds
to their comfort level as well.

- What are the primary barriers to implementing such a curriculum (teacher
certification/training, facilities, materials)?
To me this is a real, "Which came first the chicken or the egg?",
To accomplish a great middle school science program for the students, all
of these need to be in place.
The teacher needs to feel comfortable about the content that they are
teaching and this involves teacher training, either pre-service or
The teacher and the student need adequate facilities and space to
accommodate hands on minds on science instruction.
Teachers need quality materials and adequate supplies to deliver the
quality instruction. They only have so many hours in a day, and if they are
spending time on a daily basis, begging or borrowing materials, that takes
away time from their instructional planning time.
I have seen all of these become major barriers to quality instruction. I
think the challenge before us, is to remove or at least reduce as many of
these barriers as possible.

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