Where Can I Find Quality Materials for Preservice Science Teachers?

Kenneth King has been an NSTA member for 20 years. King started his career as a high school science teacher and used his NSTA membership for science lesson plans and activities in his classroom. When he became an education professor, however, he found that he relied on his NSTA membership even more for “good, contemporary ideas for activities and lab experiences.” King says that the NSTA journals help prepare his preservice students to teach science. He respects the role of the journals so much that he writes and reviews articles for them and recently served as chair of Science Scope’s Advisory Board.
King: I teach science methods courses, so I cover a lot of content, and I cover a lot of different grade levels. The NSTA journals are really valuable to me, because it helps to have somebody do the heavy lifting of finding materials that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In addition, the articles connect with what my students will need to know and what they will be required to do as science teachers, so I find the journals to be a great resource to prepare teachers.
As an example, I once did a project with my preservice students where they supported science fairs in local elementary schools. There isn’t much in a science methods textbook on science fairs. Those textbooks tend to be more theoretical, focusing on topics such as inquiry skills. I turned to the NSTA journals and found quality practitioner articles on how to manage science fairs and how to elevate fairs from just show-board experiences. The journals fill a niche that really isn’t filled by any other set of resources. They are grounded in effective pedagogy and research, but provide practitioner-oriented activities and ideas that have been vetted through a review process.
I still make use of a Science Scope article from a number of years ago called “Popcorn Possibilities.” I’ve been able to make use of that in my methods classes as a model of how to do performance-based assessment. I don’t copy the journal articles for my students, but I adapt them into lesson plans. I always share with my students that I got the resource from NSTA. I want to pique their interest and leave them hungry for more so that they’re more likely to become professionally involved with NSTA once they graduate. Students in my classes have to construct a unit of study. I encourage them to access the NSTA resources, which they can get through our university. Students learn that NSTA is a good resource for carrying out their activities and finding excellent teaching materials.
I look at NSTA materials differently than when I was a classroom teacher. As a classroom teacher, I would read the journals and say, “This is something I could do in the classroom or this is something that would help me.” Now, when I read the journals, I’m constantly finding ways to connect my preservice students to those materials. I want to stress to my students that even though they’ll be done with my class at the end of the semester, if they have a good resource like NSTA, then they will always have a friend to help them teach science.
Note from NSTA: What NSTA resources do you find helpful for preparing preservice science teachers? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. Not a member of NSTA? Learn more about how to join.
Jennifer Henderson is our guest blogger for this series. Before launching her freelance career as a writer/editor, Jennifer was Managing Editor of The Science Teacher, NSTA’s peer-reviewed journal for high school science teachers.

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6 Responses to Where Can I Find Quality Materials for Preservice Science Teachers?

  1. Scott says:

    There are a ton of materials online, I’m working on developing this series where I translate typical chemistry notions into much better depth and purpose with lots of physical explanations. First year teachers need a ton of content help in spite of the lack of time for it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALLrFIkurgY&list=PLtjPBoq7-qeIUPEc4VVzQoutaG999g-nP

  2. Carole Hayward says:

    Thanks, Scott! Good luck with your series!

  3. Kathy Sparrow says:

    I teach pre-service elementary teachers science methods at a Florida university. I have been using the NSTA Learning Center as an e-text for several semesters. My students purchase a subscription to the NSTA Learning Center. Their subscription for a year includes a student membership to NSTA and free access to all the resources (with a couple exceptions). I’ve provided my students with 17 collections (e.g., 5E Learning Cycle, Accommodating All Science Learners, Safety Is Elementary) which are automatically put into their Learning Center library. The collections contain relevant journal articles, book chapters and other resources that I use in class and for assignments during the semester. I find that these articles are more relevant and readable than many textbooks, since many articles are written by actual classroom teachers. There are also multiple forums where pre-service students can interact with teachers in-the-field. Students can ask questions, enter into discussions, receive and/or share information with experienced teachers.
    My students also complete at least one of the SciPacks to help their lesson planning and aid in their content learning. At the end of the semester my students develop an online portfolio in lieu of an exam, using the Learning Center’s PD Plan and Portfolio tool. I believe at last count, there are over 11,000 resources in the Learning Center, all of which my students can access free with their subscription. More information about this opportunity for professors of science pre-service teachers is available at: (http://learningcenter.nsta.org/e-textbook).

  4. Carole Hayward says:

    Kathy, thanks for your comment about using the NSTA Learning Center as an e-textbook. This is a terrific resource for preservice teachers.

  5. Flavio Mendez says:

    To follow-up Kathy’s comment, dozens of professors from across the country are indeed using the Learning Center as their e-textbook when teaching science pre-service teachers. If you want to learn more about this opportunity, please join us this Thursday, July 31 for a free web seminar. A panel of professors will answer questions and share examples of how exactly they are teaching future teachers using NSTA online resources. The registration web address is below. Program begins at 6:30 pm eastern time.

  6. Wendy Ruchti says:

    I teach elementary preservice teachers and have been using the NSTA LC as an e-textbook for quite some time now. It is so much better than any textbook–my candidates are really interested, the articles can become lesson plans, many book chapters are free, and they can test their content knowledge as well. The candidates read collections of articles instead of chapters in a textbook. And, you can easily upload other materials from other sites (e.g. How People Learn or Ready, Set Science are available free in PDF form). They often report back after my class that they have continued to use the LC in their pre-internship and internships and some even into their first years of teaching. It is a valuable resource for NGSS implementation as well as CCSS implementation. If you miss the webinar, please watch it archived, and then talk to one of us that is using it in their classes; I know most of us are so excited about this resource that we’re happy to help!

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