Sunday, June 15, 2014

Three Science Mysteries: A Great Contribution to the Literature of Inquiry

If you are looking for a cluster of books that deals with scientific inquiry, read on. Author Sandra Markle has provided us with three exceptional scientific mysteries that are so clearly written and well designed that they will make teaching a pleasure.
The three books are: 

·      The Case of the Vanishing Little Brown Bats
·      The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs
·      The Case of the Vanishing Honeybees

What makes these books excellent teaching material?
·      They are fascinating mystery stories. Markle takes us along as scientists try to solve these mysteries.
·      The books are beautifully designed so that they are easy to read and interesting to look at. Pictures appear at just the right place in the text to help readers comprehend the words. Captions extend the written text and also support comprehension by providing additional information.
·      The writing style is clear, informative, and friendly.
·      The back matter is just right for a book of this size and provides more avenues for further investigation. Be sure to check out the author’s note in each book.
·      These books present a true picture of the Nature of Science. We get a front row seat at ongoing scientific inquiries.

How should we use these books with children? My suggestion is to read them the way the author intends us to—as scientific mysteries. The subtitle for each book is, in fact, “A Science Mystery.”

I use the following questions when discussing science mysteries with children:
·      What is the mystery the scientists want to solve?
·      How do they gather evidence to try to solve the mystery?
·      What did they learn?
·      Did scientists have any false starts? Did they toss out any assumptions?
·      What else do scientists want to know?

These books are perfect for children in grade 4 and up (maybe even grade 3) for their close up view of science. That’s why I refer to books like these as “the literature of inquiry.”  They are notable for their content and their way of sharing it. In the process of sharing these books, you can easily incorporate CCSS standards—Main Idea and Key Details, Craft and Structure, Integration of Information, and more. 

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