Teachers and students don’t need to create any type of account to access the materials, unless you’re downloading a Science journal article from the past two years, and then you’ll just need to provide an email address.
Currently, SitC pulls all their articles from Science’s online journals, but they’ll be adding additional journals to pull articles from in the future.
The goal of SitC is not to rewrite any content, but to provide students with annotated support in order to make these research articles more accessible at the student level. Overall, I think Science in the Classroom does an exceptional job at this, and it’s a resource that I wish was around when I was teaching high school biology.
SitC accomplishes their goal by having a staff of volunteer Annotators. Many of these annotators are graduate students, but there are also some undergraduate students and there will even be a team of high school students working as annotators in the near future!
Article annotators are in charge of aligning article content with the CCSS / NGSS / AP / Vision & Change standards, adding annotations in one of the seven Learning Lenses categories, creating an accompanying teacher’s guide, as well as making the article content more accessible all around. They do this by adding in an easier to connect with title, as well as an introduction that provides some context for the article (but doesn’t give any spoilers about the research conclusions). The Science in the Classroom team confirms all of these additions with the original authors in order to ensure that they are all aligned with the content and voice. Plus, none of these additions replace any content of the article, they’re just there to help students connect with the content more easily.
I absolutely love how the SitC team has gone out of their way to provide a resource that is authentic, and unchanged, but scaffolded and supported in ways that 9th-12th grade students can still benefit.
Within each article, a great place to start is by “turning on” the Learning Lenses by clicking on each or all of them on the left side. This will allow students to see the annotations that have been added within the article. I found these to be incredibly helpful, particularly the “News and Policy Links” which makes it easier for teachers to find current events that tie into the contents of the article. Plus, many of the articles include supplemental resources like videos in order to provide additional learning opportunities.
You can also search for articles based on the 16 topics (e.g., Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Ecology, etc) or take a look at their pre built, curated collections of articles. Overall, the content is pretty biology heavy, but the team is working to expand their collections of chemistry and physics content.
On the teacher side, the Educator Guides are also incredibly beneficial. Each guide begins by addressing the CCSS, NGSS, Vision & Change, and AP standard alignment in addition to laying out how the article is connected to the “Nature of Science” standards.
Following this, an overview of the article is provided, which is recommended for educators only (since there are some spoilers). The guide also provides standard-aligned activities that can be used in conjunction with the article, as well as discussion questions to help engage students around the topic. In short, these guides provide everything a teacher could need in order to add these resources into their curriculum in an engaging and beneficial way.
Finally, some of the articles even include additional datasets that the authors have provided for students to use and work with. These are great if you would like to do any additional data analysis based on the content of the article, or if you’re just looking for datasets to help students better understand how to conduct different types of analyses. You can check out this specific example which includes a tool created by Google Earth and the research team to allow the readers to visualize the data.
Overall, SitC is an outstanding resource for high school science students and teachers, particularly if you’re in the biology classroom. The annotations and additional resources and activities do a wonderful job of making complex ideas incredibly approachable and relevant. As I mentioned, I would have loved having a resource like this in my classroom when I was teaching biology, especially given the fact that it is available for free. For all the high school science teachers out there, I absolutely recommend checking out Science in the Classroom.
The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
I was not compensated for writing this review.