Carolina Biological-Knowledge Center - May 09-2023

It's Still Debatable! Using Socioscientific Issues to Develop Scientific Literacy, K–5

by: Sami Kahn

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It’s Still Debatable! encourages scientific literacy by showing you how to teach the content and thinking skills K–5 students need to explore real-world questions like these:

• Is football too dangerous for kids?
• Do we need zoos?
• Should distracted walking be illegal?

At the core of the exploration is the Socioscientific Issues Framework. It uses debatable, science-related societal questions, or socioscientific issues, to address science content, help children learn to apply the content, and encourage them to become informed citizens. The book supports the Next Generation Science Standards; links to the Common Core State Standards, National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies, and C3 Framework; and is developmentally appropriate for diverse elementary classrooms. It also includes a chapter especially for use in methods courses and professional development programs.

The framework gives students practice in the research, analysis, and argumentation necessary to grapple with difficult questions with roots in life, physical, Earth, and environmental science. After introducing the framework and explaining how it supports the standards, the book shows you how to implement the concept through 14 lessons.

Because the book is specifically for elementary grades, the author made it a teach-ready resource that integrates science into your packed school days. You get clear and accessible background information, practical guidance on how to use the lessons, and developmentally appropriate assessments and handouts. You even find out how to develop your own socioscientific issues curriculum.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

About the Author


Prelude: “A Cup of Inspiration”

Unit I: Introduction: It’s Debatable! for the Next Generation

Unit II: Framework for This Book

Unit III: Strategies for Promoting Inquiry, Argument, and Inclusion

Unit IV: A Guide for Reading and Implementing the Lesson Plans

Unit V: Lesson Plans

Lesson 1: Leave It to Beavers: Should We Relocate the Beaver Dam?

Lesson 2: Swingy Thingy: What Makes a Great Playground?

Lesson 3: Take a (Farm) Stand: Can Plants Help Us Fight Hunger?

Lesson 4: Monkey Business: Do We Need Zoos?

Lesson 5: Soaky Doaky: What’s the Best Way to Clean Up Spills?

Lesson 6: Bee-ing There for Bees: Are Bees Disappearing?

Lesson 7: Weather or Not: Should We Rebuild in Twisterville?

Lesson 8: Eggstreme Sports: Is Football too Dangerous for Kids?

Lesson 9: Marsh Madness: What’s Your Plan for Bullfrog Pond?

Lesson 10: Finders Keepers?: Who Owns the Dinosaur Bones?

Lesson 11: Blast from the Past: Do We Still Need a Space Program?

Lesson 12: “Mined” Your Own Business: Was the California Gold Rush Good for the United States?

Lesson 13: Fueling Around: Which Energy Sources Are Best?

Lesson 14: Watch Your Step: Should Distracted Walking Be Against the Law?

Unit VI: Developing Your Own SSI Lessons

Unit VII: For Teacher Educators: Including It’s Still Debatable! in Your Pre-Service and In-Service Elementary Science Courses

Unit VIII: Finale: Embracing the Controversy in Your Classroom

Appendix: NGSS Lesson Plan Alignment Matrices


Download a sample chapter

Grade Levels



Advocacy Citizen Science Informal Education Inquiry Interdisciplinary Kindergarten Lesson Plans Literacy News Science as Inquiry Teaching Strategies


Type NSTA Press BookPub Date 10/1/2019Pages 525ISBN 978-1-68140-629-9Stock # PB347X2

NSTA Press produces classroom-ready activities, hands-on approaches to inquiry, relevant professional development, the latest scientific education news and research, assessment and standards-based instruction.

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