Publication Date: June 15, 1996
The New Teaching Elementary Science: Who’s Afraid of Spiders—Second Edition, by Selma Wassermann and J.W. George Ivany is designed for teachers-to-be and practicing teachers who want to teach science with confidence and for those who are fearful of trying. It presents an inquiry-oriented method (instead of a smorgasbord of approaches) that capitalizes on children’s natural curiosity by emphasizing scientific exploration. The book removes the fear of teaching science by encouraging teachers to be scientific inquirers themselves, learning side-by-side with their students.
The text features a theoretical model of inquiry-based teaching—Play-Debrief-Replay—that incorporates elements of investigative play with critical thinking skills. In the longest chapter, 60 fully developed, field-tested investigative science activities are included to promote experiential learning and concept development. Anxieties about teaching science are addressed head-on and dealt with sensitively and thoughtfully.
Patricia Schmidt, an elementary school teacher in Terre Haute, Indiana, enthusiastically describes her use of the Play-Debrief-Replay model:
During debriefing I would often ask the question “What did you discover?” The responses were so thoughtful that I was overwhelmed. Students who chose not to perform with a textbook and workbook were now acting as if our classroom were their own private laboratory and they, as scientists, were in charge as they gathered information from observation, made predictions, and carried out investigations. Needless to say, sciencing has been a huge success in my classroom.
The New Teaching Elementary Science is a crucial resource for all elementary teachers, and is important reading for science educators and for courses in elementary science methods.
Selma Wassermann is Professor in the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada. J.W. George Ivany is President of the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.