This paper describes a collaborative project in which elementary education (ELED) majors partnered with recreation majors (RM) to develop and implement science lessons in the outdoors. ELED and RM students both need experiential learning to accomplish respective skill sets in multiple settings. The purpose of this project was to provide both undergraduate groups with “real-life” experiences related to their respective fields and in doing so, to promote science learning in natural spaces. ELED and RM students co-constructed inquiry-based lessons and related recreational activities for implementation with 5th grade students. The researchers provide an overview of the project and describe the actions, benefits and outcomes of this university partnership.
Despite an increased recognition of the role that ‘informal’ learning spaces (e.g. museums, aquariums, other cultural institutions) have in children’s science education (NRC, 2015), there remains a gap between the goals and values of ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ (i.e. school-based) learning sectors. Moreover, the potential for informal spaces and institutions to also play a role in initial teacher preparation is only beginning to be realized. Here, we present our Science Teacher Learning Ecosystem model and explain how it frames the design of our elementary science teacher education coursework. We then use this framework to describe learning experiences that are collaboratively planned and implemented with two local museums. These course sessions engage teacher candidates as science learners and develop abilities and mindsets for bridging formal and informal teaching and learning divides. Readers are encouraged to think about their unique context and the out-of-school partners available to collaborate with, be it museums similar to those described here or parks, after-school programs, gardens, etc.
This article describes a guided reflection activity in an elementary science methods course. The author details how she videotaped model “Explore” and “Explain” sections of a 5E lesson in her methods course and then systematically reflected on the teaching episodes with her students (Bybee et al., 2006). Templates for data collection and guiding questions for the reflections are included along with a student work sample. The author outlines what she and her students learned from the experience.
In this article, we focus on the implementation in our elementary science methods course of a suite of tools supporting peer rehearsals designed to provide opportunities for preservice teachers to notice and analyze important features of ambitious science instruction prior to teaching in elementary classrooms. The tools include (1) an Engage-Explore-Explain (EEE) Framework for Science Teaching and Learning, which is similar to the first three phases of the 5E learning cycle (2) a list of Developing Student Ideas targeting science concepts in the lessons (3) a list of Common Challenges to Scientific Practices often experienced by elementary science learners; and (4) a EEE Framework feedback form. In rehearsals, novices use the tools to teach specific ambitious practices to their peers and the teacher educator. As the novices elicit and support students’ thinking, the peers and teacher educator use the tools to determine how to respond in ways that reflect children’s sensemaking and use of scientific practices. We developed the tools to guide novices in (a) designing lessons that engaged elementary students in sensemaking about natural phenomena using scientific practices; (b) anticipating, eliciting, and constructively responding to student ideas during instruction; and (c) reflecting on important features of their own science instruction. We describe the learning opportunities tool-supported rehearsals provide for novices to try out and collectively analyze moves for supporting students’ sensemaking. We also discuss how the just-in-time coaching from teacher educators and peer feedback may develop novices’ pedagogical content knowledge and prepare them to engage children in ambitious practice in elementary school classrooms.
The Argument-based Strategies for STEM Infused Science Teaching Approach (ASSIST) is a pedagogical approach based on the Science Writing Heuristic (SWH). In addition to framing instruction around the SWH approach, ASSIST emphasizes the use of multimodal communication, focuses on purposeful integration of mathematics, technology, and engineering in science learning, and provides templates to help teachers plan activities and units aligned with the approach. The authors of this paper have utilized the approach in their classrooms as well as helped inservice teachers understand and utilize the approach through professional development. Recently, the authors have also begun to develop and implement methods courses for preservice elementary and secondary science teachers based on the approach. In this article, an engaging activity based on a card trick is described that introduces preservice students to the SWH as a way to promote more general understanding of the approach. The goal of the activity is to help the preservice students identify the major characteristics of the SWH approach that is central to the ASSIST approach while simultaneously experiencing the potential for student learning the approach provides and the connections to development of an appropriate view of the nature of science. This sets the stage for future learning related to implementing the overall ASSIST approach in classroom settings.
Field experiences provide an important opportunity for preservice teachers to observe and practice science instruction. Too often, insufficient time is allotted for elementary science instruction in the formal classroom. This paper outlines the opportunities and lessons learned from an after school field experience where preservice elementary teachers worked in two-person teams with a classroom mentor teacher at local elementary schools and community centers to deliver two science lessons per week during an elementary science methods course. Multiple evidences of success are presented at the student and also at the preservice teacher levels. And finally, the important lessons learned include the characteristics of the after-school site, the “instructional” setting, the availability and storage of materials, the co-teacher preservice teams, and the presence and training of the mentor teacher.