By: Jerrell Gilkeson, Ed.D., Associate Director of Education for the Atlantic Union Conference, South Lancaster, Massachusetts.
“Teacher, Teacher, What made that happen?”
When students begin to question the phenomena that they have observed, much of the task of teaching is complete and the learning begins. Inquiry teaching methodology seeks to lead a student in that quest. The “By Design” is a new customized faith-based inquiry science program for grades 1 to 8. This hybrid (print and digital eBook) science program has been developed for traditional and nontraditional classrooms. The program was developed by the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s North American Division (NAD) Office of Education in collaboration with Kendall Hunt Religious Publishing. The By Design elementary science textbook series stages the questioning, exploring, and explaining inquiry process to maximize the “teachable moments” in each student’s science education. This process is done in the context of the Seventh-day Adventist worldview. Aligned with the new NAD standards, By Design has been developed for traditional and nontraditional classrooms. The program is built on a foundation of inquiry that encourages wonderment, questioning, collaboration, and exploration, of multiple resources to conduct research and investigations. This engaging, rigorous, and developmentally appropriate curriculum nurtures children’s natural curiosity as they explore the wonders of God’s creation through the lens of the Bible.
After serving as a member of the By Design review team and listening to teachers talk about their experiences, I compiled a list of the top reasons to like the new science series:
10 Reasons to Like “By Design”
1. Scripture and the Adventist worldview are an integrated part of the curriculum. In the early stages of developing this new series, it became apparent that since every science concept impacted our worldview, it would be impossible to have a science text with only a Bible scripture or religious nugget in each chapter. The committee’s discussion determined that the presuppositions were not an add-on but a part of the rich biblical heritage needed to explain basic science concepts.
2. Questions are the heart of the “By Design” curriculum. The level and tracking of questions were intentional in the development of this series. Each question was tabulated, and the pacing of questions that students would encounter was put where it would have the maximum benefit.
3. Inquiry-based instruction saturates the curriculum. All four levels of inquiry are used throughout the curriculum. The use of directed and structured inquiry predominates as students learn the language and processes of science. As students become more proficient they can begin to ask their own questions and inquire through guided and open inquiry.
4. Multi-grade organization is available. The curriculum features a four-year cycle Grades 1–4 and Grades 5–8 student and teacher multi-grade teacher guide.
5. Science methodology is taught at every level. Science laboratory procedures, equipment, recording of data, and examples of great scientists’ processes of discovery are all included in this series.
6. Lab journaling is central to the learning process. Good science practice meticulously records observations of all activities. The skill is emphasized throughout the Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 science.
7. Delivery is available in print and in e-book formats. Print and eBook resources are available for teachers and education associates. These are accessible once the series is purchased. The eBook format include flash applications for PC and Mac, and HTML application for iPad. Resources are supported by MAC, PC, iPad, Tablet, Kindle, and Samsung Android.
8. Teacher Editions (TEs) offer inquiry, instruction, and assessment in one location. The TE for each grade brings together the tools needed for lesson planning. The Big Ideas, Lesson Goals, and a plethora of tools—including features that address multiple intelligences, English language learners, language arts writing support, differentiated instruction, vocabulary, scaffolding, and assessment—are all included.
9. Health Challenges bring the physiological science concepts under study into students’ daily lives. The science concepts become reality to students as they look through the lens of their own physical health.
10. The books have beauty and appeal to students, and feature clear and up-to-date pictures, tables, and illustrations throughout. Many teachers have said this is one of their favorite aspects of the curriculum and a main reason why this series needs to be in their classrooms. When students see the books they want to explore, discover, and read them.
Concern: Yet, while there is excitement about the new series, there are two concerns: Schools and teachers will not order the new series because of cost. Although the initial cost of the textbooks series is comparable to those of similar programs, the expense of preparing hands-on lab materials can be extensive. The school/teacher has a choice of self-assembling the materials or purchasing them as a lab kit to be used for classroom full of students over and not compromise on using the inquiry activities. Other schools wish to have a more hands-on approach to securing the materials from local sources. The concern is that the worst-case decision might be made: to not do the activities.
Teachers will evade the rigor of preparing to use the multiple resources designed to support inquiry methodology and revert to lecture mode. It often seems most efficient to simply “tell” children what is going on in science and then test them on the concepts. Although this is efficient for the teacher, it is very inefficient for most students. We now know from brain research that a majority of students learn what they are interested in, can see, and experience. Unions and conferences are developing in-services, video labs, and other resources to assist in mastering inquiry methodology. And, with these resources teachers who are using the series can better support the learning in their classroom.
To discover more about the program go to http://adventisteducationbydesign.com