Teaching Science for Socail Justice Book Review

Overall, we would not suggest Teaching Science for Social Justice to people interested in learning how to implement a social justice curriculum in the science classroom. Though our expectations may be partially to blame, this book did not focus on science in the classroom,rather it focuses on utilizing science in the community for a community building project. We can’t deny that the project that took place within the book was interesting and the anecdotes about the children involved were poignant at times, but, the book was redundant and dragged on. It was agreed upon that the chapters were too long and the book would be much improved if chapters were shorter, cut straight to the point and were more informative. Even though we did complete the book, we felt as a group that we could understand the whole gist of the book and the moral of the story in just two or three chapters. Because of this, it was necessary for us to depend upon other resources for discussion. 


A Concordance for Rethinking Elementary Education

We found this text to be a great resource for teachers, especially elementary school teachers. It is insightful and comprehensive. Every school would benefit from having a few copies of this text available to teachers.

PLC Group 3


Beginning of a concordance for teachers on subject matter in Rethinking Elementary Education:


Reading and writing (whole of Chapter 2)

  1. “Teaching for Social Justice” pg. 49, Ch 2
    1. An overview of how to move from progressive teaching to critical teaching
    2. “In addition to studying movements for social justice of the past, students discuss current problems and possible solutions”
  2. “Writing for Change” pg. 57, Ch 2
    1. Accessing students funds of knowledge
    2. Resource: Persuasive writing flow-charts
  3. “Patterns and Punctuation” pg. 66, Ch 2
    1. Teacher guided inquiry vs. student guided inquiry
    2. Resource: Punctuation inquiry chart


Children’s Rights:

  1. Confronting Child Labor” pg. 73, Ch 2
    1. Issues of domestic and foreign Child labor
    2. Resources: Child Labor Tea Party materials
    3. Examples of student work


The Environment:

  1. “Exploring Our Urban Wilderness” pg. 231, Ch. 5,
  2. “Polar Bears on Mission Street” pg. 236 Ch. 5,
  3. “Measuring Water with Justice” 241 Ch. 5,
  4. “Water Dialogue Poem” 247, Ch.5


Using science to relay the power of misconceptions and how to change them:

  1. “Learning from worms” pg. 248 Ch.5,
  2. “Rats!” (students defend classroom pets) pg. 253, Ch.5,
    1. “My students found their voices. They learned, through writing and speaking up publicly, about an issue that is important to them, that they can have an impact (258).



  1. “A Letter from a Black Mom to Her Son” pg. 261, Ch. 6
    1. “I felt very black and obvious because I knew that my experience was different from that of my peers. But I also felt invisible because this was never acknowledged in any meaningful way,” (262).
  2. “Peers, Power, and Privilege” pg 19, Ch. 1
  3. Who can stay here? p 182


Freedom of Speech:

  1. “The Power of Words” pg. 264, Ch.6



  1. “Defending Bilingual Education” pg. 269, Ch.6
    1. “More Need, Less Bilingual Instruction”



  1. “A Librarian in Every School, Books in Every Home” pg. 274, Ch. 6
  2. “Reading First, Libraries Last” pg. 277 Ch. 6



  1. “Think Less Benchmarks” pg. 282, Ch. 6
    1. “Essentially, it’s an expensive assessment program built on the assumption that repeated testing of children will help them do better on tests” (282).
  2. “Tracking and the Project Method” pg. 40, Ch. 1



  1. “Deporting Elena’s Father” pg. 285, Ch. 6
    1. People ask me, “How does deportation affection children?” The question I’d like to pose is “How doesn’t deportation affect children?” (286).

2) “Testing Kindergarten” pg. 297, Ch. 6

3) “They Call This Data?” pg. 303, Ch.6

4) “Who can stay here?” p182, Ch. 3

5) “Learning About the Unfairgrounds” pg. 86, Ch 2

6) “Crossing Borders, Building Empathy” pg. 91, Ch 2

7) “First Crossing” pg.96, Ch 2



  1. “Teaching the Whole Story” pg. 288, Ch.6
  2. “Heather’s Moms Got Married” pg. 10, Ch. 1
  3. “Creating a Gay- and Lesbian-Friendly Classroom” pg. 13, Ch. 1
  4. “It’s OK to Be Neither” pg. 15, Ch. 1



  1. “My Talk with the Principle” pg. 300, Ch. 6


Poverty/ Economic Inequality

  1. “Math and Inequaltiy” pg 207-208, Ch. 4**
  2. “Peers, Power, and Privilege” pg 19, Ch. 1

Dealing with Stereotypes

“Math, Stereotypes, and Voice” pg. 208-209, Ch. 4**

            Beyond Pink and Blue p 167

“Girls, Worms, and Body Image” p 176

“Save the Muslim Girl”  p188


Classroom Community

  1. “The Challenge of Classroom Discipline” pg. 3, Ch. 1
  2. “Inner and Outer Worlds” pg. 5, Ch. 1
  3. “Bad Signs” pg. 35, Ch. 1
  4. “10 Ways to Move Beyond Bully Prevention” pg. 32, Ch. 1
  5. “Helping Students Deal with Anger” pg. 24, Ch. 1
  6. “Staying Past Wednesday” pg. 29, Ch. 1
    1. Dealing with Death and Loss.



1) Beyond Pink and Blue p 167

3) “It’s OK to be Neither” pg. 15, Ch. 1

4). “Girls, Worms, and Body Image” p 176



1). TV Selfishness and Violence Explode During War on Terror. p 171



1). Beyond the Medal p 194

** Overall, Chapter 4 involves incorporating a variety of social justice issues into daily math activities, and does not specifically address one issue in detail.

Teaching Terrorism


This week’s reading dealt with defining abstract terms that are commonly used but do not have concrete, universal definitions. Different terms can mean different things for different people. Problems arise when attempting to differentiate between acts of violence, hate crimes, etc., and acts that constitute the definition of “terrorism.” The activity discussed in the reading asked students to put aside their own preconceived notions and reach a consensus within their groups about what is terrorism and who are terrorists.

Connections to course readings:

In the modern era, it can be difficult separate the concept of terrorism from Islam. Therefore, when teaching about terrorism, it is important to be mindful of making these distinctions to your students. This connects to the reading by Amanda E. Lewis because she emphasizes a focus on not only multiculturalism but also anti-racist education. Teachers should focus on revealing where racist attitudes originate and how important it is to not perpetuate this racism. Therefore, when teaching about terrorism, it is important to make sure students separate the terrorists from the Islamic religion.

Highlights from group discussion:

We thought this topic was particularly relevant because of the recent attacks in Paris. Many governors have announced that they will be refusing to admit Syrian refugees in the wake of the attack. If we were teaching this lesson, we would use this as a real life connection for our students.

Question for practicing teachers:

How would you respond to a student who uses racially charged dialogue in the classroom?

Questions for Teacher Panel

In connecting our book to modern day teachers, we want to know how popular culture and media are incorporated into the daily schedule of k-12 education.

How do teachers today incorporate social media into their classroom environments, if they do at all?

Any projects with courses that incorporate current events?

Leniency with technology in classrooms? Are students able to use their technology as resources?

Is there a polling system like poll everywhere that is appropriate for k-12 education?

Social Media in the Classroom (Continued)

By: Mckenzie Vass

Facilitator: Cady Childress


Social media gives people today a new way to experience history in real time. Using the recent terrorist attacks in Paris as an example, we discussed how social media such as twitter not only gives the public instantaneous access to events happening worldwide, it also provides an avenue for the public to react and responds to the events.

For instance, under a post by the Huffington Posts on twitter for November 13th during the attacks, there were thousands of retweets and comments. This gives social media immense power over how historical events are told; news outlets and the general public can receive information and share it instantaneously, regardless of whether or not it is wrong or biased. It also has the power to engender critical thinking and discussion, because it is news from the people and not biased news outlets. It can be analyzed in two different ways.

Using social media for current historical events or past ones can be great in the classroom, because they actively engage student thorough a platform that they genuinely enjoy. An idea we had for a classroom activity with social media was having students complete a project in which they have to recreate what they believe a social media website would look like during an historical event. They could tweet what famous people, news outlets, the public, etc. would say in that moment the event was happening as if they had access to social media at that time.

Group 17 – Teaching Science for Social Justice (11/16)

Teaching Science for Social Justice: Chapter 8 – Empowering Science Education and Youth’s Practices of Science



This chapter was mainly a summary of all the overarching ideas presented throughout the book, linking together different concepts that were presented in isolation into a bigger picture (Figure 8.1) and evaluating their roles. The chapter then explores possible future directions that we as educators can explore. In designing future curriculum, we need to keep in mind topics that allow students to see science: 1) “through multiple points of entry”, 2) “through structures that recognize networks” and 3) “through thinking about identities and relationships through a desire for change”. The book ends with a reminder, or author’s thoughts, on why we should pursue science education as a career.


Connection to class:

  • This chapter came in a timely manner in tandem with our Case Study assignment where we were forced to think about our roles in classrooms in the future. Members of the group were able to apply our PLC readings to this assignment in our analysis of the case study assignment.


Highlights of Group Discussion:

  • We talked a little bit about the Paris attacks and how Facebook let people “check in” that they were safe. We talked about how people had a problem with this, in that they are asking, “Why does FB only care about people in Paris, and not anywhere else in the world that are getting terrorized?
  • We decided this was unfair, but it also made us feel like no matter what is done that is good, someone will always find a way to show you how wrong your good is.
  • We also talked about how we are sad this is our second to last PLC! This semester has flown by. Three of the four of us are student teaching next semester, and although we are excited, we realized we only have 9 days of classes left of our undergraduate career which is CRAZY!


Questions to Pose (for the teacher’s panel next week):

  1. Has a student ever exhibited an insensitive response (e.g. laughing, ridiculing, mocking) to a social justice topic you were trying to teach your class? How did you respond to this situation?
  2. How much energy should/can we devote to incorporating social justice topics into our science curricula? How can we go about this in a tactful way?
  3. Has it been hard to balance making sure you are not offending someone in whatever you do? Like we were talking about from our first two discussion highlights, it seems that no matter what we do that is “good,” someone somewhere will find it offensive.


Mission Statement:

There was no change in our mission statement aside from the qualifications made from last week’s readings.


Next Week’s Reading:

Since we’ve completed the book, we’ll be revisiting the book in its entirety and discussing the overarching ideas, how they relate to what we’ve learned in the course this semester, and how we can apply them to our future careers.


Questions for Teacher Panel:

What books have shaped your pedagogy and professional goals?

How do you include social justice in a science class?

How do you react and respond when students are acting or saying things that are discriminatory towards others?

How do you combat bullying inside and out of the classroom?

How do you balance meeting the common core standards and maintaining a social justice-oriented classroom?


Reading, Writing, Rising up Review:

Great resource for language arts teachers with a wide variety of lesson plans. Ideal for middle or high school english teachers. This book not only addressed the social justice issues but also gave great, specific lesson plans and exercises that can be used in the classroom. Not only so, but the ideas it gives are very creative and insightful. Even though it was specific to english class lesson plans, we all saw how we could use some of the ideas mentioned in our own classrooms, whether they are middle/high school english or not.