Book recommendations
The Teacher's Toolkit by Paul Ginnis. Published by Crown House Publishing Ltd, 2002. Discussed by Jennifer Baker
This book is designed that it can be dipped into when you want ideas. I don't think it is something that you can read from cover to cover.
The book is planned around 5 sections
1. Design tools: talking about the differences and similarities between learners. How we can help them learn, make lessons fun. General background about the science of learning.
2. Tools for teaching and learning: these are the 'games' that you use in the lessons. These are designed around how you do them, applications (subjects with ideas), why do it and variations on the same theme. If you have not used some of the 'games' then he takes you through and guides you how to use them.
3. Tools for managing group work, behaviour and personal responsibility: "What puts many teachers off using innovative and interactive classroom techniques? Discipline" He talks about different ways you can get groups to work and realise how thy are disputing the learning. Great one he suggests is 'Sabotage' - discusses how to sabotage the sabotage. I have been brave enough to try it.
4. Operating tools: talks about 6 different ways of managing learning in the classroom. Describes some guidelines for planning and delivering learning experiences to cover the individual learning needs of the pupils. How to use extension work, what not to use if it used as part of the core work. Great ideas to try. Try one chapter at a time.
5. Audit tools: it is your way of checking whether you are on the right track. He says that these are his ideas and that there can be others. Read them and try.
  • Check your lesson plans
  • Check your students' learning styles
  • Check your impact on students' self-esteem
  • Check your language
  • Check your professional development
  • Check your management of change
As an NQT it gives me ideas but I am sure that it can be of use to anyone. It is something that can be kept in the department as a resource to all.

Note: Booksellers often have used copies at a much lower price, e.g. Amazon

John Wallace and William Louden (Eds) (2002) Dilemmas of Science Teaching: Perspectives on Problems of Practice, Routledge Falmer, London £22.79
Some of the great and the good write about aspects in science education, followed by comments from some leading thinkers. Topics include: nature of science; laws of science; laboratories; gender; equity; culture and ethnicity; power; textbooks; student reports; questioning; analogies; teaching ethics; constructivism; science for all; teaching out of the field; curriculum change. Each chapter is a fairly short piece of writing, followed by the commentaries from 3-5 others. It is a suitable method for a group such as PALAVA to use for remote discussions among members. I recommend this book for all thinking science educators.
John Oversby: September 2009

Deborah Corrigan, Justin Dillon & Richard Gunstone (Eds) 2007 The re-emergence of values in science education, Sense Publishers, Rotterdam and Taipei, £25.00
Monash University in Victoria, Australia is the birth place of science education in Australia, with a very strong research tradition. Dick Gunstone is a powerhouse of thinking about a wide range of issues in science education and one of the 'old guard'. Debbie Corrigan is Head of Department, no mean feat in itself and testament to her quiet and deep thinking about school science teaching. Justin Dillon is also a senior figure, being President of the European Science Education Research Association, and possessing a wide range of experience at policy level and elsewhere. Interestingly, all are chemists by science training! The authors of chapters read as a lexicon of prominent thinkers over the world. Their projects have had great influence in recent times, such as Mary Ratcliffe's work on social issues, Camilla Schreiner and Svein Sjoberg's seminal ROSE survey on pupil views on relevance of science, and Peter Fensham's reflections on international TIMMS and PISA investigations. It took nearly 20 years to get UK curriculum creators to include aims and purposes of science education in the formal documents, and it may take the same or more for such values to be embodied in secondary science teaching, given the positivistic and naiive neutralistic approach of university science professors who teach them their basic science. What this book does is to expose serious thinking about values across science education, with insightful commentary, from fieldwork and environment, diversity and democracy, cultural variety and spiritual interaction, to ethics, out of school learning, biodiversity. The papers stretched my views, and added more issues for me to think about. This book is not central to science education as it is practised today, but ought to be, and I thoroughly recommend it for reading.
John September 2009

Robin Millar, John Leach, Jonathan Osborne (Eds) (2000) Improving science education - the contribution of research Open University Press, Buckingham £25.64
The sad death of Rosalind Driver in 1997 was the spur to the production of this book, as a tribute to her prolific and insightful contributions to science education. While the chapters often recount the specific research carried out by the individual authors, they manage to convey the essence of major science education thinking by some of the leading activists of today. The sections are a) researching teaching and learning in science; b) reviewing the role and purpose of science in the school curriculum; c) researching science education. The chapters demonstrate the fragmented nature of science education research across the world, with flashes of brilliance, sheer determination and some very challenging ideas. In this short review I can mention so little, but Edgar Jenkin's article on scientific literacy, or science for all, should be placed against our present limited pre-occupation with science for the elite. Jenkins does make his reading easy, with many comments about whether scientific literacy can be achieved, or even what it is. It is preceded by a chapter on the Nature of Science by Rick Duschl where he makes some pertinent observations about the lack of understanding of the relationship between data and theory in our curricula. Although published nearly 10 years ago, the book is not really out of date yet and should be ernestly read by all those engaged with science education research.
John Oversby November 2009

Judith Bennett (2003) Teaching and learning science A guide to recent research and its applications. Continuum Press, London £14.24
Judith is part of the network of teacher educators at York University. She has been very much engaged with small scale action researchers by teachers, and with the meta-studies of research of the EPPI Centre. Her book, as with many, ranges across a variety of issues which have concerned her in her personal career, such as Gender Issues, and Context-based Approaches to quote two chapter titles. She has focused on those who wish to know more about aspects of research in science education, and producing guidance for those who wish to do research, based on her experiences with her MA students. Each chapter has concrete examples for these two groups of people, together with her professional review. Her expertise in getting to the important questions to be considered are obvious in what she writes. Inevitably, her work exemplifies the natire of science education research as not providing clear examples of what is best, but explorations within the professional jungle of everyday teaching. If you are prepared to enjoy the journey as much as getting to your goal, read this book.
John Oversby 2009