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The Science I Know: Culturally Relevant Science Lessons from Secondary Classrooms is a collection of culturally relevant lesson plans written by secondary science teachers. Each lesson discusses how the tenets of academic success, cultural competence and critical consciousness that are part of the theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP) are addressed (Ladson-Billings, 1995). Additionally, each lesson plan is structured following the 5E learning cycle (Bybee, 2006) and aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NAS, 2012). The goal of this book is to help science teachers understand how to go about designing lessons that are culturally relevant. The hope is that the lessons that are detailed in each chapter will inspire teachers to draw the cultural knowledge from their students and capitalize on it when designing science lessons.
After an introductory chapter that discusses how science education has shifted in recent decades to address the needs of diverse students, the main body of the text is divided into three sections. The first part introduces Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP) as a framework; this would be important for those readers unfamiliar with Gloria Ladson-Billings’ work. It addresses and discusses the three tenets of CRP (Academic Success, Cultural Competence and Critical Consciousness) and it includes an explanation of how each area can be observed and addressed in science education specifically. The second part features lesson plans from secondary science classrooms written by teachers from different subject areas (i.e., life science, physical science, earth science, etc.). The lesson plans follow the 5E Instructional Model (Bybee et. al., 2006). This model promotes inquiry by guiding teachers in the design of lesson plans that are “based upon cognitive psychology, constructivist-learning theory, and best practices in science teaching.” (Duran & Duran, 2004). A brief snapshot of each teacher precedes each lesson plan. A discussion about how each of the CRP tenets is observed appears after each lesson plan. Finally, each plan featured will have a section that addresses the concepts of Funds of Knowledge (Moll et al., 1992). This concept will guide teachers in the process of identifying and maximizing students’ cultural capital in the classroom. Each lesson plan chapter concludes with questions for further consideration for teachers. The last part of the book features a discussion about what the future of science education will look like based on the sets of skills and practices that are part of the national and state standards. It includes best practices for teachers when preparing and planning to implement culturally relevant practices in their classrooms.
The Science I Know is not only essential reading for all science teachers interested in utilizing culturally relevant instructional practices in their classroom, but also a valuable tool in the instruction of pre-service teachers in Colleges of Education. The book’s structure is ideal for classroom use.