Teaching Science in Diverse Classrooms : Real Science for Real Students book cover
1st Edition

Teaching Science in Diverse Classrooms
Real Science for Real Students

ISBN 9780367189976
Published September 11, 2019 by Routledge
144 Pages

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Book Description

As a distinctive voice in science education writing, Douglas Larkin provides a fresh perspective for science teachers who work to make real science accessible to all K-12 students. Through compelling anecdotes and vignettes, this book draws deeply on research to present a vision of successful and inspiring science teaching that builds upon the prior knowledge, experiences, and interests of students. With empathy for the challenges faced by contemporary science teachers, Teaching Science in Diverse Classrooms encourages teachers to embrace the intellectual task of engaging their students in learning science, and offers an abundance of examples of what high-quality science teaching for all students looks like.

Divided into three sections, this book is a connected set of chapters around the central idea that the decisions made by good science teachers help light the way for their students along both familiar and unfamiliar pathways to understanding. The book addresses topics and issues that occur in the daily lives and career arcs of science teachers such as:

• Aiming for culturally relevant science teaching

• Eliciting and working with students’ ideas

• Introducing discussion and debate

• Reshaping school science with scientific practices

• Viewing science teachers as science learners

Grounded in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), this is a perfect supplementary resource for both preservice and inservice teachers and teacher educators that addresses the intellectual challenges of teaching science in contemporary classrooms and models how to enact effective, reform

Table of Contents


Introduction: Teaching real science to real students

Section I: Student ideas are the raw material of our work

  1. Aiming for culturally relevant science teaching
    An argument for meeting our students where they are
  2. Eliciting students’ ideas
    Student ideas as the raw material of science teachers’ work
  3. Every misconception is a shiny pebble
    Glimpsing beautiful and productive extensions of prior knowledge
  4. Responses to student questions without answers
  5. "Maybe it will just have to remain a mystery forever"


    Section II: Real Science, Real Students

  6. HeLa cells, high-speed chases, and other essential questions
    Because science class should not be a trivia game
  7. Reconsidering labs & demonstrations for doing model-based inquiry
    Do not throw away those owl pellets just yet
  8. On the use of models and simulations as tools for thinking
    What if the stork carried 20-sided dice?
  9. Eyes like a scientist
    Framing safety as part of scientific practice for students
  10. Field trips and guest speakers
    Bringing the inside-out and the outside-in for science learning
  11. Before today I was afraid of trees
    Rethinking nature deficit disorder in diverse classrooms
  12. Section III: Science teacher learning

  13. Observing candles and classrooms
    Learning from other teachers by withholding judgment
  14. Mentoring new science teachers
    Novices get better when we support them with good feedback
  15. The black belt science teacher
    Differentiation and a speculative learning progression for science teachers
  16. Teaching at the edge of our knowledge
    The power of pursing the scientific knowledge we think we need to know
  17. Playing school vs. doing real science
    Providing all students with access to the means of knowledge generation

Afterword: Good reasons for becoming a science teacher References

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Douglas B. Larkin is an Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Montclair State University. He has worked as a high school science teacher and educator in New Jersey, Wisconsin, Kenya, and Papua New Guinea. His research examines science teacher preparation and retention, as well as issues of equity and justice in teacher education.


"This book speaks to all types of science teachers and their different contexts—Doug Larkin is writing to a diverse science teacher audience. The way he integrates and weaves together stories from his teaching and his work as a teacher educator with those of other teachers makes the whole book feel connected, an authentic learning experience. The book is written the same way he envisions science teaching—it is meant to be intriguing and real not just a series of facts forced onto the reader."

Dr. Anna Monteiro, Program Officer, Knowles Teacher Initiative

"I love the tempo and approach to this book. It is accessible and clearly connects the 'bigger issues' of science education to the actual practices of teaching."

Dr. David Meshoulam, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Speak for the Trees and High-School and College Science Instructor.

"As a (former) science teacher I felt both validated and challenged by the book. It is a wonderfully realistic portrayal of teaching science in real classrooms and recognition of all that science teaching entails. I like that Larkin encourages teachers to forge stronger connections to science practices and deeper learning, and he communicates these important messages as a nudge towards more collaborative sense-making. It’s positive and encouraging and offers teachers ways to reorient what they already do towards more robust science teaching.  " 

Jennifer Wilfrid, Senior Outreach Specialist, WIDA at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research