A 20-year Journey in Elementary and Early Childhood Science and Engineering Education: A Cycle of Reflection, Refinement, and Redesign

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Sandifer, C., Lottero-Perdue, P., & Miranda, R.J. (2020). A 20-year journey in elementary and early childhood science and engineering education: A cycle of reflection, refinement, and redesign. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(4). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/a-20-year-journey-in-elementary-and-early-childhood-science-and-engineering-education-a-cycle-of-reflection-refinement-and-redesign/

by Cody Sandifer, Towson University; Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, Towson University; & Rommel J. Miranda, Towson University

Abstract

Over the past two decades, science and engineering education faculty at Towson University have implemented a number of course innovations in our elementary and early childhood education content, internship, and methods courses. The purposes of this paper are to: (1) describe these innovations so that faculty looking to make similar changes might discover activities or instructional approaches to adapt for use at their own institutions and (2) provide a comprehensive list of lessons learned so that others can share in our successes and avoid our mistakes. The innovations in our content courses can be categorized as changes to our inquiry approach, the addition of new out-of-class activities and projects, and the introduction of engineering design challenges. The innovations in our internship and methods courses consist of a broad array of improvements, including supporting consistency across course sections, having current interns generate advice documents for future interns, switching focus to the NGSS science and engineering practices (and modifying them, if necessary, for early childhood), and creating new field placement lessons.

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References

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Sandifer, C., Lising, L., & Renwick, E.  (2007). Towson’s PhysTEC course improvement project, Years 1 and 2: Results and lessons learned. 2007 Conference Proceedings of the Association for Science Teacher Education.

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Sandifer, C., Lising, L., Tirocchi, L, & Renwick, E.  (2019, February 28). Towson University’s Elementary PhysTEC project: Final report. Retrieved from https://www.phystec.org/institutions/Institution.cfm?ID=1275

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Student-Generated Photography as a Tool for Teaching Science

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Bradbury, L., Goodman, J., & Wilson, R.E. (2020). Student-generated photography as a tool for teaching science. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(4). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/student-generated-photography-as-a-tool-for-teaching-science/

by Leslie Bradbury, Appalachian State University; Jeff Goodman, Appalachian State University; & Rachel E. Wilson, Appalachian State University

Abstract

This paper describes the experiences of three science educators who used student-generated photographs in their methods classes. The paper explains the impetus for the idea and includes a summary of the literature that supports the use of photographs to teach science. The authors explain the process that they used in their classes and share examples of student-generated photographs. The paper concludes with a summary of the benefits that the authors felt occurred through the use of the photographs including the building of community within the classes and the encouragement of the preservice teachers’ identity as science learners and future science teachers.

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References

Arnheim, R. (1980). A plea for visual thinking. Critical Inquiry, 6, 489-497.

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Cook, K., & Quigley, C. (2013) Connecting to our community: Utilizing photovoice as a pedagogical tool to connect college students to science. International Journal of Environmental & Science Education, 8, 339-357.

Eschach, H. (2010). Using photographs to probe students’ understanding of physical concepts: the case of Newton’s 3rd law. Research in Science Education, 40, 589-603.

Good, L. (2005/2006). Snap it up: Using digital photography in early childhood. Childhood Education, 82, 79-85.

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Katz, P. (2011) A case study of the use of internet photobook technology to enhance early childhood “scientist” identity. Journal of  Science Education and Technology, 20, 525-536.

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Food Pedagogy as an Instructional Resource in a Science Methods Course

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Medina-Jerez, W., & Dura, L. (2020). Food pedagogy as an instructional resource in a science methods course. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(3). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/food-pedagogy-as-an-instructional-resource-in-a-science-methods-course/

by William Medina-Jerez, University of Texas at El Paso; & Lucia Dura, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

This article explores the integration of culturally relevant practices and student expertise into lesson planning in a university-level science methods course for preservice elementary teachers (PSETs). The project utilized a conceptual framework that combines food pedagogy and funds of knowledge, modeling an approach to lesson design that PSETs can use in their future classrooms to bring students’ worldviews to the forefront of science learning. The article gives an overview of the conceptual framework and the origins of the project. It describes the steps involved in the design, review, and delivery of lessons by PSETs and discusses implications for instructional practices in science teacher education and science learning in elementary schools. The article concludes with a discussion of major outcomes of the use of this framework, as evidenced by PSET pre- and post- project reflections: student-centered curriculum development, increased PSET self-confidence, integrated learning for both PSET and the students, and sustained levels of engagement.​

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References

Abarca, M. (2006). Voices in the kitchen: views of food and the world from working-class Mexican and Mexican-American women. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.

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Apprehension to Application: How a Family Science Night Can Support Preservice Elementary Teacher Preparation

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Feille, K., & Shaffery, H. (2020). Apprehension to application: How a family science night can support preservice elementary teacher preparation. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(3). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/apprehension-to-application-how-a-family-science-night-can-support-preservice-elementary-teacher-preparation/

by Kelly Feille, University of Oklahoma; & Heather Shaffery, University of Oklahoma

Abstract

Preservice elementary teachers (PSETs) often have limited opportunities to engage as teachers of science. As science-teacher educators, it is important to create experiences where PSETs can interact with science learners to facilitate authentic and engaging science learning. Using informal science learning environments is one opportunity to create positive teaching experiences for PSETs. This manuscript describes the use of a Family Science Night during an elementary science methods course where PSETs are responsible for designing and facilitating engaging science content activities with elementary students.

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References

Avraamidou, L. (2015). Reconceptualizing Elementary Teacher Preparation: A case for informal science education. International Journal of Science Education, 37, 108-135.

Bandura, A. (1986). The explanatory and predictive scope of self-efficacy theory. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 4, 359-373.

Harlow, D. B. (2012). The excitement and wonder of teaching science: What pre-service teachers learn from facilitating family science night centers. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 23, 199-220.

Jacobbe, T., Ross, D. D., & Hensberry, K. K. R. (2012). The effects of a family math night on preservice teachers’ perceptions of parental involvement. Urban Education, 47, 1160-1182.

Kelly, J. (2000). Rethinking the elementary science methods course: a case for content, pedagogy, and informal science education. International Journal of Science Education, 22, 755-777.

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Collaborating with Virtual Visiting Scientists to Address Students’ Perceptions of Scientists and their Work

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Grossman, B.T., & Farland-Smith, D. (2020). Collaborating with virtual visiting scientists to address students’ perceptions of scientists and their work. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(3). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/collaborating-with-virtual-visiting-scientists-to-address-students-perceptions-of-scientists-and-their-work/

by Brandon T. Grossman, University of Colorado Boulder; & Donna Farland-Smith, Ohio State University

Abstract

The idea that middle school students hold stereotypic representations or impressions of scientists is not new to the field of science education (Barman, 1997; Finson, 2002; Fort & Varney, 1989; Steinke et al., 2007). These representations may match the way scientists are often portrayed in the media in terms of their race (i.e., white), gender (i.e., male), the way they dress (i.e., lab coat, glasses, wild hair), their demeanor (i.e., nerdy, eccentric, anti-social), and where they work (i.e., in a laboratory by themselves). Bringing scientists into classrooms to collaborate with students and teachers has been shown to positively influence students’ perceptions of scientists and their work (Bodzin & Gerhinger, 2001; Flick, 1990). However, the planning and collaboration involved in this in-person work can be challenging, complex, and time consuming for both teachers and visiting scientists. Advances in classroom technologies have opened up new opportunities for disrupting problematic representations and supporting students in developing more expansive perceptions of science and scientists. This paper explores the collaboration between a middle school science teacher, five visiting scientists, and a science teacher educator around the development and implementation of a week long virtual visiting scientist program for middle school students. The impact the program had on the teacher’s ongoing practice and on students’ self-reported perceptions of science and scientists is also examined.

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References

Angell, C., Henriksen, E., Isnes, K., & Isnes, A. (2003). Why learn physics? Others can take care of that! Physics in Norwegian Education: Content-perceptions-choices. Science Education Perspectives, Research & Development Oslo: Akademisk, 165-198.

Barman, C. (1997). Students’ views of scientists and science: Results from a national study. Science and Children, 35(1), 18-23.

Bodzin, A. & Gehringer, M. (2001). Breaking science stereotypes: Can meeting actual scientists change students’ perceptions of scientists? Science & Children, 38, 24-27.

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Farland‐Smith, D. (2009). Exploring middle school girls’ science identities: Examining attitudes and perceptions of scientists when working “side‐by‐side” with scientists. School Science and Mathematics109, 415-427.

Finson, K.D. (2002). A multicultural comparison of draw-a-scientist test drawings of eighth graders. Paper Presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Conference of the Association of Educators of Teachers of Science, Charlotte, NC.

Flick, L. (1990). Scientist in Residence program: Improving children’s images of science and scientists. School Science Mathematics, 90, 205-214.

Fort, D.C. & Varney, H.L. (1989). How students see scientists: Mostly male, mostly white, mostly benevolent. Science & Children, 26 (8), 8-13.

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Maltese, A. V., & Tai, R. H. (2010). Eyeballs on the fridge: Sources of early interest in science. International Journal of Science Education, 32, 669-685.

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Connecting Preservice Teachers and Scientists Through Notebooks

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Carter, I., & Schliemann, S. (2020). Connecting preservice teachers and scientists through notebooks. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/connecting-preservice-teachers-and-scientists-through-notebooks/

by Ingrid Carter, Metropolitan State University of Denver; & Sarah Schliemann, Metropolitan State University

Abstract

The use of science notebooks in an elementary methods course can encourage preservice teachers’ engagement in collaborative work and participation in science through writing (Morrison, 2008). In this paper we describe how we, a teacher educator and a scientist, collaborated to focus on how scientists use notebooks in their work, and how this compares and contrasts to how notebooks can be used in both a preservice elementary methods course and in the elementary classroom. We describe our facilitation of notebooks with preservice teachers and how we emphasize professional scientists’ use of notebooks. Additionally, we offer recommendations based on our experiences in our collaboration and facilitation of notebook use with preservice teachers. Our intention is to provide recommendations that can be applied in a variety of university contexts, such as emphasizing the Science and Engineering Practices and the Nature of Science, including discussion about the work of professional engineers, and making connections to literacy.

Introduction

The use of science notebooks in an elementary methods course can encourage preservice teachers’ engagement in collaborative work and participation in science through writing (Morrison, 2008). Furthermore, it can offer opportunities to preservice teachers to engage in working and thinking like a professional scientist, and to think critically about how this notion can be transferred to elementary science teaching. While there is prior work on using science notebooks with preservice teachers, the purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how collaboration across disciplines can support an emphasis in the methods course on how scientists work, or more specifically, how scientists use notebooks in their work. This paper describes how an elementary education faculty member (Ingrid) and a science faculty member (Sarah) collaborated on the integration of science, health, and engineering notebooks into an elementary preservice science and health methods course.

Ingrid is an Associate Professor in the Department of Elementary Education and Literacy and teaches the science and health methods course for elementary preservice teachers. Sarah is a lecturer in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences with expertise in environmental chemistry. In addition, she has taught the prerequisite science content courses designed for elementary preservice teachers. The idea to begin this collaboration was initiated by an interest by both authors to build a “real-world” connection for preservice teachers about how scientists use notebooks in their work, and how this can potentially enhance preservice teachers’ learning about science notebooks as well as their use of notebooks with their future elementary students.

Science Notebooks with Preservice Teachers

Prior research has indicated that use of science notebooks in preservice methods courses has been fruitful and has positively influenced preservice teachers’ science learning (Morrison, 2005; Morrison, 2008). Morrison (2008) found that preservice teachers valued recording their science ideas. By the end of the semester they viewed the notebook as a learning tool, rather than as an assignment that was being graded. Indeed, they became less concerned about the neatness of their notebooks, and more focused on their use of the notebook. Further, preservice teachers indicated that they planned to use science notebooks in their future classrooms as a place for students to record their thinking and as a formative assessment tool.  An earlier study by Morrison (2005) also noted that science notebooks supported preservice teachers’ understanding of formative assessment. Dickinson and Summers (2011) found that preservice elementary teachers engaged in both written and graphic recordings of their thoughts in their science notebooks and the participants indicated they would like to use the notebooks they created in class as examples for their future students. Frisch (2018) examined preservice elementary and special education teachers’ use of a hybrid digital/paper-and-pencil notebook. She found that preservice teachers most frequently chose to use a hard copy notebook (e.g., recording observations, writing reflections, creating concept maps) and included photos to demonstrate their learning.

Teachers Working with Scientists

We sought to build on prior work using science notebooks with preservice teachers by incorporating how professional scientists use notebooks in their work. In our work, we aimed to integrate rich examples of and discussion about how scientists use notebooks to enhance the use of notebooks in the methods class. Brown and Melear (2007) examined secondary preservice teachers’ experiences working as apprentices with professional scientists. They found that the preservice teachers valued the experience working with professional scientists and the learning that took place, and that the experience supported their confidence to teach inquiry-based science. Further, the preservice teachers saw the value in supporting their own future students’ interest when teaching science. Sadler, Burgin, McKinney, and Ponjuan (2010) conducted a review of literature of secondary students, college students, and K-12 teachers working as research apprentices on science research projects. They found that teachers’ understandings of the Nature of Science (NOS) improved, as well as their confidence in their ability to do and teach science. They also found, however, that changes in teacher practice varied and that limitations existed with regard to transferability of the science research experience to the classroom context. More recently, Anderson and Moeed (2017) examined inservice teachers’ beliefs about science after working with professional scientists for six months and found that the teachers developed a deeper understanding of scientists’ work and NOS. Tala and Vesterinen (2015) found that “teacher students” held a “deeper and more focused view” (p. 451) in their understanding of elements of the science practices (i.e., modeling) after engaging in contextualized interviews with scientists about their work.

Prior research indicates the value of using notebooks with preservice teachers in methods courses, as well as providing teachers the opportunity to talk and work with scientists. Therefore, the purpose of this work was to make explicit connections between science notebooks at the preservice teacher and elementary school level, and notebooks professional scientists create. In the next section, we describe how we infused the use of notebooks in the preservice methods course, and how we made connections between how the preservice teachers were using their notebooks, how elementary students might use notebooks, and how professional scientists use notebooks.

Notebooks in the Elementary Science and Health Methods Course

The science and health methods course meets once a week for 2 hours and 35 minutes (plus a 15-minute break) over a 15-week semester. The preservice teachers in the science and health methods course are usually undergraduate juniors—the methods course is taken one or two semesters before they begin a year-long teaching residency. Most of the preservice teachers are majoring in elementary education, which includes all the coursework and experiences they need for state K-6 general education teaching licensure. The methods course is part of a block of co-requisite courses that includes the mathematics methods course and a shared 45-hour field experience. The preservice teachers are required to take two 3-credit science content courses in their general studies program as prerequisites to the science and health methods course. Sarah has worked extensively in revising and teaching the two science content courses for elementary teachers. The preservice teachers also take a 2-credit health and physical education course for elementary teachers. While they do not take an engineering course as a part of their program, Ingrid incorporates engineering into the science and health methods course because the new 2020 Colorado Academic Standards for Science (Colorado Department of Education, 2018) were developed based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that integrate engineering concepts into the science standards. Preservice teachers have sometimes stated that they have experience creating a science notebook in their K-12 education, and/or they have created notebooks in other content methods courses in their elementary education program. The following sections describe how science, health, and engineering notebooks are introduced and facilitated throughout the semester in the methods course.

Introducing the Science, Health, and Engineering Notebook

Ingrid introduces notebooks to the preservice teachers in the first (or second) class session of the 15-week semester. The introduction begins with asking preservice teachers to read Nesbit, Hargrove, Harrelson, and Maxey’s (2004) article titled “Implementing Science Notebooks in the Primary Grades” before coming to class. This article provides an overview of how and why notebooks can be used in elementary classrooms. Preservice teachers are given the assignment to keep their own science, health, and engineering notebooks throughout the semester (see Appendix A for notebook assignment description and rubric). As stated in the assignment description, creating their own notebooks throughout the semester is designed to “allow [preservice teachers] to explore if and how [they] will use this tool as a teacher in [their] own science, health, and engineering instruction.” Preservice teachers use their notebooks during almost every class period (with the exception, for example, of class sessions when students plan and conduct teacher rehearsals), and create two entries: one “student” entry where they record information as they engage in an inquiry lesson suitable for elementary students, and one “teacher” entry where they analyze and record ideas on teaching methods and pedagogy.  This is based on the idea of science interactive notebooks that suggests K-12 students create a two-sided notebook (Young, 2012). For school-aged students, the left side can contain “output,” or ideas to support students as they process and think critically about information and concepts. The right side contains “input,” or the data that students gather while investigating a concept (Young, 2012). Preservice teachers are asked to distinguish their entries a bit differently, as they choose one side of their notebook for “student” entries and one side of their notebook for “teacher” entries. This format is designed to indicate to preservice teachers which course activities are intended to model pedagogy (student entry) and which activities involve reflection, application, and metacognition about science teaching (teacher entry). For example, early on in the semester preservice teachers begin to learn about inquiry and the Science and Engineering Practices ([SEPs], NGSS Lead States, 2013). Preservice teachers read about the SEPs for class (Konicek-Moran & Keeley, 2015), and then in class engage in an abridged version of the Sheep in a Jeep lesson (Ansberry & Morgan, 2010) on the “student side” (see Figure 1). For the “teacher side,” small groups work together to create a summary of characteristics of each SEP and share this with the class. The preservice teachers then work in their table groups to reflect on and record their ideas about which and how the SEPs may be evident in Sheep in a Jeep lesson. Figure 2 demonstrates an example of this work as preservice teachers begin to develop an understanding of the SEPs at the beginning of the semester and how they connect to an inquiry lesson.

Figure 1 (Click on image to enlarge). Preservice teacher notebook of the “student” side.

Figure 2 (Click on image to enlarge). Preservice teacher notebook of the “teacher” side.

The preservice teachers have indicated that having the student side and teacher side is helpful in distinguishing the two “hats” they wear in class, as they examine lessons through the student lens and through the pedagogical lens, and that creating a science notebook has helped them think about how to use them with their own students. We discuss in class that the elementary students’ notebooks can also have two sides with dual purposes—an experimental side and a reflections side (Young, 2012). When asked at the end of the semester what they gained (if anything) from creating a science notebook, one preservice teacher indicated:

I learned how to do it with students, basically. Like you said, like, hey, here is what we can do for the student side, we can do something, like you said with the teacher side, we can change this to have them do daily reflections, questions that pop up, they maybe go home and do outside research, but definitely having that experimental slash note side and then having that questions, reflection, what do you think on this side, I think that is very useful for me, it’s like, this is how I can set it up.

Also related to learning how to implement notebooks with elementary students, one preservice teacher stated that it was helpful to create a notebook herself so that she knew what to expect:

I think it was really helpful to see the student side of it, specifically, ’cause how I, I never had them so, I think just jumping into residency or even teaching and having kids do it, or really knowing what you want them to get out of it, or your expectations, so I think this is a good way to set those expectations for myself for the students. Being able to actually do it so that I can show them how.

Interestingly, some preservice teachers indicated that their ideas about the value of creating their own notebook developed over the course of the semester. They developed an understanding of how the notebooks supported their own learning, for example, the notebooks helped keep them organized or provided them a resource about their learning in the course to which they could later refer.

Facilitating Use of the Notebook Throughout the Semester

In a typical class session, preservice teachers experience an inquiry lesson that includes either part or all of a 5E lesson (Bybee, 1997). In most cases, time permits engagement only in the first 3 E’s (Engage, Explore, and Explain). During these lessons, preservice teachers record the focus question and data in their notebooks. Later in the semester, preservice teachers also record more detailed explanations from the data. During the lesson, Ingrid models a pedagogical strategy. After experiencing the three parts of a 5E lesson, the class debriefs, analyzes, and/or discusses the pedagogical strategy that was modeled. For example, preservice teachers engage in a lesson to compare solids and liquids and make Oobleck to explore an anomaly (non-Newtonian fluid). Throughout the lesson, Ingrid models elementary science assessment strategies, such as a solids and liquids card sort (Keeley, 2008) as a pre-assessment in the Engage phase, and Traffic Light Dots (Keeley, 2008) as a self-assessment, whereby preservice teachers place green, yellow, and red dots next to statements they have written in their notebook to indicate their level of understanding and/or comfort with the what they wrote and did. Ingrid also plans to incorporate a discussion of how to assess elementary students’ notebooks into this lesson in the upcoming semester. Preservice teachers then discuss additional strategies that could be used to assess throughout the lesson.

Modeling of notebooks is a key aspect of introducing notebooks (Lewis, Dema, & Harshbarger, 2014). When Ingrid first started using notebooks with preservice teachers, she did not model using her own notebook, however throughout the years preservice teachers have indicated they wanted an example. Ingrid therefore began modeling the set-up of the notebook and the first few entries, and then gradually releasing this modeling. She has also found the assignment description and rubric are helpful—critical aspects of the notebook are creativity and to use the notebook as an exploratory tool. Ingrid has thus attempted to find a balance between supporting preservice teachers who prefer specific details related to assignment expectations while allowing space for freedom and creativity. In addition, preservice teachers sometimes request a review of required entries to ensure they have met the assignment requirements. To support their work, Ingrid provides one or two opportunities throughout the semester for preservice teachers to receive optional formative feedback, whereby Ingrid reviews the contents of the notebooks and provides comments and suggestions (e.g., to keep the table of contents up-to-date or to consider adding creativity to the notebook) on sticky-notes, so that the preservice teachers can remove the feedback and still feel ownership of their notebook (Nesbit et al., 2004). Ingrid has found over the years that preservice teachers appreciate the notebook having a point value in the class, as they have mentioned that it suggests that their work is valuable and important, and thus contributes to their course grade.

Throughout the semester, preservice teachers are asked to use their notebooks in various ways. For example, sometimes the preservice teachers are asked to write a reflection about the pedagogical topic of the class, or to write a Line of Learning (Nesbit et al., 2004). Mid-semester, preservice teachers are asked to set one goal they would like to achieve with their notebooks. For example, one preservice teacher wrote: “Goal Statement: Starting this/next week, I will start reflecting using the 3,2,1 countdown[1] AND to decorate the cover of my notebook! Shoot for the stars!” The following week, preservice teachers review their goals to determine if they achieved them, make a plan to achieve them if they did not, and set further goals for their notebook use.

Explicitly Connecting Notebooks to Scientists’ Work

The purpose of Sarah’s visit is for preservice teachers to meet and interact with a professional scientist who uses notebooks in her work. She comes to the class midway through the semester (about week 7) so that preservice teachers have had some experience working with their notebooks, exploring inquiry, and examining the SEPs (NGSS Lead States, 2013). We consider Sarah being a woman an added benefit and encourage inviting scientists to the classroom that represent diversity in the STEM workforce.

The preservice teachers are assigned to read before class Chapter 4 of their Questions, Claims, and Evidence text (Norton-Meier, Hand, Hockenberry, & Wise, 2008) titled, “Writing as an Essential Element of Science Inquiry.” In this chapter, they read about writing to learn and the importance of combining students’ knowledge bases of science and writing. The preservice teachers are also assigned to read an article by Schneider, Bonjour, and Bishop Courtier (2018) that connects notebooks to literacy, inquiry, and the SEPs (NGSS Lead States, 2013).

Facilitating the “Student” Side: How Do Professional Scientists Use Notebooks?

The class session begins (Engage phase) with Ingrid reading the book, Notable Notebooks: Scientists and Their Writings (Fries-Gaither, 2017), which describes how various scientists use notebooks in their work. The focus question for the “student” side of the lesson is “How do professional scientists use notebooks?” The lesson is framed as a “student” lesson because elementary teachers can bring scientists into the classroom and engage elementary students in a similar lesson. We introduce the focus question and facilitate a discussion about how the preservice teachers think scientists use notebooks. Preservice teachers are provided with a “data” sheet to tape into their notebooks on which they record their observations and inferences about how scientists use notebooks based on Notable Notebooks (Fries-Gaither, 2017) and on sample notebooks Sarah shares. The preservice teachers highlight activities such as planning experiments, creating hypotheses, and writing results. Classroom teachers may have students complete these writing activities in their notebooks, but they are not generally how scientists use their notebooks. Although there is quite a bit of variety from notebook to notebook, scientists mainly use notebooks to record data.

After this initial discussion, Sarah shares notebooks samples of her own work and that of her colleagues (see Figures 3-5) and discusses the various way scientists use notebooks in their work (Explore phase). Throughout this discussion, we ask the preservice teachers questions to guide their thinking: What kinds of data are the scientists collecting? How have the scientists organized their data? How did the professional scientists in the examples we just shared use their notebooks in different ways? What is the purpose of notebooks as professional scientists use them?

Figure 3 (Click on image to enlarge). Botany notebook featuring drawings of plants noted in the field.

Figure 4 (Click on image to enlarge). Genetics notebook containing photos of gel electrophoresis (a DNA fingerprinting technique).

Figure 5 (Click on image to enlarge). Environmental science notebook containing tables of water quality measurements.

These notebooks demonstrate the wide variety of content present in scientific notebooks. For example, Sarah shows drawings of plants that one of her research assistants, who was double majoring in art and environmental science, completed while making observations in the field as part of one of Sarah’s projects (see Figure 3). She also shows sets of numerical data from a study on soil chemistry. As the preservice teachers examine the notebooks, they are asked to make further observations about them. They often observe that each notebook is unique and serves as a place to record the work conducted by the scientist. They comment that some notebooks are filled with numbers, some with drawings, and some even have “artifacts” taped into them. Indeed, Sarah brings in an example of a scientific notebook that includes photographs of gel electrophoresis (a DNA fingerprinting technique) that the scientist inserted (see Figure 4). The discussion then returns to the focus question: How do professional scientists use notebooks? (Explain phase). We recommend facilitating a Claim and Evidence statements to answer the focus question that uses the preservice teachers’ observational notes from Notable Notebooks (Fries-Gaither, 2007) and from the samples of scientists’ notebooks to support their claims.

Facilitating the “Teacher” Side: Notebooks Across Contexts

The observations preservice teachers make about scientists’ notebooks offer the opportunity to begin to distinguish the similarities and differences between scientific and classroom notebooks. To begin thinking of the lesson as teachers, we facilitate a discussion about how scientists’ notebooks compare to both the preservice teachers’ notebooks and elementary students’ notebooks. For example, how are the ways that professional scientists use their notebooks similar/different to how we are using notebooks in this class? How is this similar/different to how elementary students use science notebooks? What is the purpose of notebooks as elementary students use them? How is this the same/different from how we are using them this semester? The preservice teachers generally see connections between classroom and scientific notebooks, for example, both are personal records of thoughts, observations, and questions. The authors of each make decisions about what is included and how—notebooks usually have a system of organization which is chronological. The preservice teachers are required to date every entry, a practice that scientists often consider critical as well. This chronological organization can demonstrate growth or learning over a time period: the student over an academic year, the scientist over the course of a study. Elementary teachers also usually ask their students to date their notebook entries. Further, we discuss how the scientists’ notebooks shared were all created in hard copy and how the preservice teachers also create hard copy notebooks. While there are merits to maintaining digital work, we discuss the importance of scientists using hard copy notebooks (e.g., so that they can bring them into the field regardless of the weather). One concept we emphasize is that scientists generally do not erase any work in their notebook, but cross it out if they need to make a change. This is an important point because scientists want to see their thought-processes and therefore it is helpful to keep all their work. Similarly, elementary teachers may ask their students to cross out their work rather than erase it, for the same reason of being able to see students’ thought processes. We point out that although the preservice teachers (and perhaps elementary students) may not bring their notebooks outside, hard copy notebooks may support creativity so that students do not have to navigate technology while creating their notebook. Furthermore, hard copy notebooks allow students to easily insert artifacts and handouts into the notebook as perhaps, a scientist may do (as in the DNA example).

Preservice teachers also discuss how the notebooks they are creating in the methods course differ from scientists’ notebooks, for example, their notebooks have a “student” side and a “teacher” side, and their notebooks contain notes, ideas, and reflections on science teaching and learning. Likewise, elementary students’ notebooks may contain a “data” or “observations” side and a “reflections” side (Young, 2012). The science notebooks that Sarah shares largely contain numerical or descriptive data, whereas the notebooks created by preservice teachers and elementary students contain a variety of notes and reflections. The preservice teachers’ notebooks also contain a required system of organization, which includes a table of contents and a glossary (see Appendix A). This system is intended to model how to support elementary students as they create their notebooks, however scientists will likely not use this type of system in their own notebooks.

Preservice teachers are asked to consider how they would use a notebook in their future class or how they have observed their cooperating teachers in their field experiences use notebooks in the classrooms in which they are working. Indeed, preservice teachers are given a field reflection assignment about notebooks for class that day. Through a discussion, the preservice teachers identify the learning objectives elementary teachers may have when using notebooks including building organization and literacy skills. They also see the notebooks as a way for students to demonstrate growth over a unit, semester, or year, and reflect back on their work throughout the school year. In contrast, preservice teachers may view scientific notebooks as mechanisms for thinking about and carrying out scientific investigations. At this point in the lesson, we ask preservice teachers to complete a t-chart that lists the SEPs (NGSS Lead States, 2013), and how scientists’ notebooks reflect how scientists engage in the SEPs (please see Recommendations section below for a modification to this approach).

Lastly, the class is asked to consider the value in bringing a professional scientist to visit the class to talk about their work and how they use notebooks. The preservice teachers again comment that meeting a scientist makes science seem more approachable and less abstract. At the end of the semester one student stated:

I think when you brought in like the real science, like the real scientists’ notebooks like for us to see that was really cool, too, because it just kind of like, I like the idea of um, ya know, think like a scientist.

When Sarah visits the class, she describes her work by explaining what she does and why it is important. This discussion helps to demystify science and scientists. If a scientist is able to explain exactly what they do in their work, it can perhaps make it easier for students to envision themselves in the role. During the discussion, we encourage the preservice teachers to invite scientists into their own future classrooms so that elementary students can also see how scientists work. We suggest that they begin by emailing faculty from local colleges, including community colleges. Other possible locations include government agencies (local, state, federal), non-profits, engineering firms, environmental consulting firms, zoos/ aquariums, museums, and hospitals. We point out that since many professionals are busy their emails may go unanswered, but we encourage preservice teachers to persist in finding someone who can visit their classroom. We also encourage them to speak with the scientist before their visit to discuss the content so that it is grade-appropriate and to discuss their learning goals—we note that since they are education experts, it is their responsibility to ensure that the visit goes smoothly.

Recommendations

In this section, we provide reflections and recommendations based on our experiences in our collaboration and facilitation of notebook use with preservice teachers. Our intention is to provide recommendations that can be applied in a variety of university contexts.

Building a Collaboration

The university setting can make cross campus collaboration difficult—it may be common for faculty to remain in their disciplines, and these disciplines can be geographically separated by different buildings. Such work is possible, however, if faculty explore opportunities at the university, for example, by participating in service outside of the department, school, or college. Our collaboration and friendship began with a service project that involved faculty from the School of Education and the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences. The service does not need to be specifically related to the intended project, as any service outside the department can be a valuable to meet faculty outside of teacher education. If such a service opportunity is not available, it may be possible to establish a relationship by reaching out to individuals that are likely to share a mutual interest. Although Sarah is a scientist and teaches in a science department, she also teaches a class for preservice teachers. Thus, it is not surprising that she has an interest in pedagogy and science instruction.

Emphasizing Professional Use of Notebooks with Preservice Teachers

We believe a critical component of emphasizing scientists’ work is to share real-life examples of scientists’ notebooks. Please note that this may take some time since the scientists will need to ensure that the information they are sharing is permitted by IRB. When sharing examples of scientists’ notebooks, it is important to compare/contrast the way scientists use notebooks not only with how the preservice teachers use notebooks in the methods class, but also how they can be used with elementary students. As we continue our collaboration, we have obtained various insights into ways that we could further enhance our emphasis of how professionals use notebooks, and how that relates to how preservice teachers, and elementary students, use notebooks.

Explicit and continued connection to scientists’ notebooks. First, we plan to explicitly connect and reflect back to Sarah’s visit throughout the semester. This can be done by asking questions after the inquiry investigations done in class such as: How do you think a professional scientist would conduct an investigation to answer the same focus question? What kind of data could/would they gather, and how could they organize it? Further, this connection can be extended and emphasized through discussion about the work that scientists may record in notebooks and how this relates to the SEPs (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and to the Nature of Science (NOS). Tables 1 and 2 provide some ideas for how to connect professional scientists’ notebooks to the SEPs and NOS.

Table 1 (Click on image to enlarge)
Connections Between Science and Engineering Practices and Scientists’ Notebooks
Table 2 (Click on image to enlarge)
Connections Between Nature of Science and Scientists’ Notebooks

As preservice teachers engage in inquiry activities and make connections between elementary science learning, the SEPs (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and NOS, they can also reflect on how this relates to professional scientists’ work and their use of notebooks. Connecting scientists’ notebooks to the SEPs and NOS can support preservice teachers’ thinking about how elementary science can relate to the work of professional scientists. This is critical so that preservice teachers continue to see and think critically about how notebooks are used across contexts: in elementary classrooms, in their own methods course, and by professional scientists. We recommend asking preservice teachers to think about these connections through a three-column chart: one column lists the SEPs (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and/or the tenets of NOS, one column asks preservice teachers to make connections between the SEPs and how scientists use notebooks, and the third column asks preservice teachers to either make connections between the SEPs/NOS and how they are using notebooks or how elementary students can use notebooks. Alternatively, preservice teachers could complete a Venn diagram with three circles, one for each role (elementary student, preservice teacher, professional scientist) to compare/contrast how different roles use notebooks. As preservice teachers continue to engage in inquiry lesson as “students,” and reflect on pedagogy as teachers, they may begin to see more and deeper connections between the different contexts of notebook use.

Connections to the work of professional engineers. Next semester, we also hope to incorporate deeper discussion about how engineers use notebooks. We plan to read Fries-Giather’s (2018) Exemplary Evidence: Scientists and Their Data, which includes ideas about how engineers work. We can examine how the work of engineers compares/contrasts to the work of scientists, again using the SEPs (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and using the Framework for Science Education’s “Distinguishing Practices in Science from those in Engineering” (National Research Council, 2012, pp. 50-53) to guide the discussion. Preservice teachers can make the connection that while the practices are similar as they relate to both science and engineering, science tends to focus more on exploration and explanation, while engineering tends to focus more on solving problems. As mentioned above, connections between engineers’ notebooks and NOS can also be made.

Connections to literacy. Finally, we recommend making explicit connections between the science notebooks, literacy, and supporting language development (Schneider et al., 2018). There are a number of resources that discuss how to integrate literacy into science notebook use with elementary students (e.g., Fulton & Campbell, 2014). We suggest having class discussions about how notebooks support language and literacy, as well as facilitating an activity that allows preservice teachers to examine the state literacy and/or English Learner standards to find connections to science notebook use. Furthermore, children’s literature can be a valuable way to introduce how scientists use notebooks (before a scientist visits the class), to review/revisit how scientists use notebooks (after the scientist’s visit), and to think critically about how notebooks are used. As mentioned previously, we really like the two books by Fries-Gaither to introduce and discuss with preservice teachers how scientists work and how they use notebooks.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we have found our collaboration to be fruitful in our facilitation of notebook use with preservice teachers. An interesting and unanticipated benefit for Ingrid has been an enhanced understanding of how scientists work. Her knowledge of how scientists work has become clearer and deeper as the authors have discussed the various ways Sarah and her colleagues collect and analyze data. Preservice teachers have often mentioned the value of Sarah’s visit and sometimes refer back to it throughout the semester. Further, many preservice teachers know Sarah from the science content courses for elementary teachers they have taken. This seems to support an added level of comfort and familiarity with her when she visits the classroom. Sarah has also benefited from this collaboration as she has furthered her understanding of scientific pedagogy that has allowed her to improve her own teaching of undergraduate science courses for both elementary majors and non-majors. Finally, we believe that connecting scientists’ notebooks to the work of preservice teachers and elementary students and how that relates to the SEPs (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and NOS can provide a larger context and bring to life these dimensions of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Author Note

[1] We believe this refers to: 3 new facts I learned, 2 “ah-has,” and 1 question

Supplemental Files

Appendix-A.docx

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A Framework for Science Exploration: Examining Successes and Challenges for Preservice Teachers

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Croce, K. (2020). A framework for science exploration: Examining successes and challenges for preservice teachers. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/a-framework-for-science-exploration-examining-successes-and-challenges-for-preservice-teachers/

by Keri-Anne Croce, Towson University

Abstract

Undergraduate preservice teachers examined the Science Texts Analysis Model during a university course. The Science Texts Analysis Model is designed to support teachers as they help students prepare to engage with the arguments in science texts. The preservice teachers received instruction during class time on campus before employing the model when teaching science to elementary and middle school students in Baltimore city. This article describes how the preservice teachers applied their knowledge of the Science Texts Analysis Model within this real world context. Preservice teachers’ reactions to the methodology are examined in order to provide recommendations for future college courses.

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Adapting a Model of Preservice Teacher Professional Development for Use in Other Contexts: Lessons Learned and Recommendations

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Park Rogers, M., Carter, I., Amador, J., Galindo, E., & Akerson, V. (2020). Adapting a model of preservice teacher professional development for use in other contexts: Lessons learned and recommendations. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(1). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/adapting-a-model-of-preservice-teacher-professional-development-for-use-in-other-contexts-lessons-learned-and-recommendations/

by Meredith Park Rogers, Indiana University - Bloomington; Ingrid Carter, Metropolitan State University of Denver; Julie Amador, University of Idaho; Enrique Galindo, Indiana University - Bloomington; & Valarie Akerson, Indiana University - Bloomington

Abstract

We discuss how an innovative field experience model initially developed at Indiana University - Bloomington (IUB) is adapted for use at two other institutions. The teacher preparation programs at the two adapting universities not only differ from IUB, but also from each other with respect to course structure and student population. We begin with describing the original model, referred to as Iterative Model Building (IMB), and how it is designed to incorporate on a variety of research-based teacher education methods (e.g., teaching experiment interviews and Lesson Study) for the purpose of supporting preservice teachers with constructing models of children’s thinking, using this information to inform lesson planning, and then participating in a modified form of lesson study for the purpose of reflecting on changes to the lesson taught and future lessons that will be taught in the field experience. The goal of these combined innovations is to initiate the development of preservice teachers’ knowledge and skill for focusing on children’s scientific and mathematical thinking. We then share how we utilize formative assessment interviews and model building with graduate level in-service teachers at one institution and how the component of lesson study is adapted for use with undergraduate preservice teachers at another institution. Finally, we provide recommendations for adapting the IMB approach further at other institutions.

Introduction

There is a clear consensus that teachers must learn to question, listen to, and respond to what and how students are thinking (Jacobs, Lamb, & Philipp, 2010; NRC, 2007; Russ & Luna, 2013).  With this information teachers can decide appropriate steps for instruction that will build on students’ current understandings and address misunderstandings.  At Indiana University – Bloomington (IUB) we received funding to rethink our approach to the early field experience that our elementary education majors take in order to emphasize this need for developing our preservice teachers’ knowledge and abilities to ask children productive questions (Harlen, 2015), interpret their understanding, and respond with appropriate instructional methods to develop students’ conceptual understanding about the topics being discussed (Carter, Park Rogers, Amador, Akerson, & Pongsanon, 2016).  Our field experience model titled, Iterative Model Building (IMB), is taken in a block with the elementary mathematics methods and science methods courses, and as such half of the field experience time (~5-6 weeks) is devoted to each subject area.  Over the course of the semester, the preservice teachers attend local schools for one afternoon a week.  In teams of four to six, the preservice teachers engage with elementary students through interviews and the teaching of lessons, and then experience various modes of reflection to begin developing an orientation towards teaching mathematics and science that is grounded in the notion that student thinking should drive instruction (National Research Council, 2007).  Thus, the IMB approach consists of four components that include weekly formative assessment interviews with children, discussions regarding models of the children’s thinking from the weekly interviews, lesson planning and teaching, and small group lesson reflections similar in nature to Lesson Study (Nargund-Joshi, Park Rogers, Wiebke, & Akerson., 2012; Carter et al., 2016). The intent of our approach is to teach preservice teachers to not only attend to student thinking, but to learn how to take this information and use it when designing lessons so they will make informed decisions about appropriate instructional strategies.

In this article we describe not only the original IMB approach, but also demonstrate the flexibility in the use of its components  with descriptions of how Authors 2 and 3 (Ingrid and Julie) have adapted aspects of the IMB to incorporate into their science and mathematics teacher education courses at different institutions.  Although this journal focuses on innovations for science teacher education, at the elementary level many teacher educators are asked to either teach both mathematics and science methods, or work collaboratively with colleagues in mathematics education, as students are often enrolled in both content area methods courses during the same semester.  Therefore, we believe sharing our stories of how this shared science and mathematics field experience model was initially developed and employed at IUB, but has been modified for use at two other institutions, has the potential for demonstrating how the components of the model can be used in other contexts.

To begin, we believe it is important to disclose that Ingrid and Julie, who made the adaptations we are sharing, attended or worked at IUB and held positions on the IMB Project for several years during the funded phases of research and development.  When they left IUB for academic positions, they took with them the premise of the IMB approach as foundational to developing quality mathematics and science teachers.  However, the structure of their current teacher education programs are not the same as at IUB, and thus they adapted the IMB approach to fit their institutional structure while trying to staying true to what they believed were core aspects of the approach for quality teacher development.

We begin with sharing an overview of the components of the IMB approach followed by descriptions from Ingrid and Julie about the context and course structure where they implement components of IMB.  In addition, we share examples of how their students discuss K-12 students’ mathematical and scientific ideas and relate this to instructional decision-making.  Through sharing our stories of adaptation of the IMB approach, we aim to inspire other teacher educators to consider how they may incorporate aspects of this approach into their professional development model for preparing or advancing teachers’ knowledge for teaching in STEM related disciplines.

Overview of IMB Approach – Indiana University (IUB)

As previously mentioned, IMB includes four components: (i) developing preservice teachers’ questioning abilities to analyze students’ thinking through the use of formative assessment interviews (FAIs); (ii) constructing models of students’ thinking about concepts that are asked about in the interviews (i.e., Model Building); (iii) developing and teaching lessons that take into consideration the evolving models of children’s thinking about the concepts being taught (i.e., Act of Teaching); (iv) learning to revise lessons using evidence gathered about children’s thinking from the lesson taught (i.e., Lesson Study). Although these components may not appear to be innovative to those in the field of teacher preparation, the unique feature of the IMB model is the iterative process, and weekly combination of all four components, within an early field experience for elementary education majors that we believe demonstrate innovative practice in preparing science and mathematics elementary teachers.  In addition, the field experience at IUB applies this four-step iterative process in the first 5-6 weeks with respect to teaching mathematics concepts, then continues for an additional 5-6 weeks on science concepts.  In the next few paragraphs, each of the IMB components are described in more detail.  We have grouped components according to those that Ingrid and Julie have adopted for use at their institutions.

Formative Assessment Interviews and Model Building

Formative assessment interviews (FAIs) are modified ‘clinical interviews’ that are aimed at understanding students’ conceptualizations of scientific phenomenon or mathematics problems (Steffe & Thompson, 2000).  From these video-recorded interviews, the preservice teachers identify short snippets that illustrate elementary students explaining their thinking about what a concepts is, how it works, and how they solved for it.  These explanations are then used to try to develop a predictive model to help the teachers consider how the students might respond to a related phenomenon, problem, or task (Norton, McCloskey, & Hudson, 2012).  The Model Building sessions require the preservice teachers to consider what is known about the students’ thinking on the concept or problem, based on the specific evidence given in the snippet of video, and identify what other information would be helpful to know. See Akerson, Carter, Park Rogers, & Pongsanon (2018) for further details on the purpose, structure and ability of preservice teachers to participate in a task where they are asked to make evidence-based predictions regarding students future responses to relate content (i.e., anticipate the student thinking).

With respect to the IMB approach, a secondary purpose of the FAI and Model Building sessions is to develop preservice teachers’ knowledge and abilities to think about how to improve their questioning of students’ thinking within the context of their teaching. This relates to being able to develop their professional noticing skills; a core aspect identified in the research literature (Jacobs, et al., 2010; van Es & Sherin, 2008) and critical to fostering the expert knowledge teachers possess (Shulman, 1987). See ‘Resources’ for examples of the post FAI Reflection Form (Document A) and Model Building Form (Document B) preservice teachers complete at IUB as part of their field experience requirements.

Act of Teaching and Lesson Study

Each week the teams develop a lesson plan using the information gathered from the FAIs, Model Building sessions, and as time goes on, their experience of teaching previous lessons to the students in their field classroom.  With respect to the mathematics portion of the field experience, the mathematics lessons are developed in conjunction with the field experience supervisor from week to week.  However, given the additional time that science has, because the science teaching in the field does not start until halfway through the semester, a first draft of all five science lessons are completed as part of the science methods course. Once the switch is made to science in the field, the preservice teachers then revise the drafted lessons from week to week using the information gathered through the IMB approach and with the guidance of the field instructor.

During the teaching of the lesson, two to three members of each team lead the instruction and the other two to three members of the team move around the room amongst the elementary students observing and gathering information about what the students are saying and doing related to the lesson objectives.  After the teaching experience, all members come together and follow the IMB’s modified lesson study approach that is adapted from the Japanese Lesson Study model (Lewis & Tsuchida, 1998)[1].  Using the Lesson Study Form developed for use in the IMB, the different members of the teaching team reflect on what the children understood about the concepts taught in the lesson and propose revisions for that lesson based on the children’s understandings and misunderstandings.  Possible strategies related to these understandings are also discussed with respect to the next lesson to be taught in the series of lessons.  Supporting them in this reflective process is the evidence some members of the team recorded using the Lesson Observation Form (see ‘Resources’, Document C), as well as what those who taught the lesson assessed while teaching.  The Lesson Study Form (see ‘Resources’, Document D) guides this evidence-based, collaborative, and reflective process.

Stories of Adaptation

In the following sections we describe how Ingrid and Julie have adapted components of the IMB approach for use in their teacher education programs.  To keep with the flow of how we described the IMB approach above, we begin with Julie’s story as she adapted the FAI and Model Building components for use at her institution.  Following her story is Ingrid’s, and her adaptation of the teaching and Lesson Study components of the IMB approach.  While neither of these stories demonstrates an adaptation of the complete IMB approach, demonstrating that type of transfer is not our intent with this article.  Rather, we want to share how aspects of the IMB approach could be adapted together for use in other institutional structures.  Table 1 provides a side-by-side comparison of how the IMB components were adapted for use at our different institutions to meet the needs of our students in our different contexts.

Table 1 (Click on image to enlarge)
Comparison of IMB components across Institutions

Julie’s Story of Adaptation at the University of Idaho (UI)

In the final two years of the five year IMB, Julie was a postdoctoral researcher and IMB manager for IMB. In this capacity, she taught the field experience course and coordinated with other instructors of the course. At the same time, she worked with participants after they had completed the field experience and moved to their student teaching or actual teaching placements. Julie was also involved with writing a manual to support others to implement the IMB field experience process.

At her current institution, Julie has incorporated FAIs and Model Building into a graduate course on K-12 mathematics education. The university is a medium-size doctoral granting institution in the upper Northwest of the United States. The course, for which the IMB approach has been adapted, engages masters and doctoral students in exploring: a) connections between research literature and practice (Lambdin & Lester, 2010; Lobato & Lester, 2010), b) the cognitive demand of tasks (Stein, Smith Henningsen, & Silver, 2009), and c) professional noticing (Jacobs et al., 2010; Sherin, Jacobs, & Philipp, 2011). The fully online course lasts sixteen weeks and students engage in weekly modules around these three core foci. Students in the course are primarily practicing teachers from across the state in which the university resides.

The IMB process of engaging teachers in FAIs and Model Building is followed in this course; however, the process spans over a longer period with a whole semester devoted solely to mathematics. Each person designs two FAIs on a specific mathematical topic and completes a Model Building session for each interview. This process is slightly different than the IMB approach because there are fewer students in the graduate class, and since many are practicing K-12 classroom teachers, they have access to students with whom they can easily conduct the FAIs. Despite the teacher population and logistical differences between IUB and UI, Julie used the supporting documents and implemented them in a manner very similar to how they were initially designed and employed for the IMB approach at IUB. For example, at UI each graduate student/teacher selects appropriate mathematics content for the interview based on the standards and learning objectives that are age appropriate for the K-12 student they will interview. They then plan a goal for the interview, along with five problematic questions to be asked during the interview and related follow-up questions. Based on the second focus of the graduate course, they are encouraged to consider the cognitive demand of the tasks they include in their questions. The interview is audio recorded and the graduate students are asked to reflect on the questions outlined on the FAI Reflection Form (see ‘Resources’, Document A).  Referring specifically to the second question on the reflection form, one graduate student responded, “During my post-FAI analysis of the student work and audio, my noticing, once again, improved as I began to consider the relationship between the student’s misconceptions and teaching strategies.” Comments like this were commonly found across the FAI reflection forms, indicating the value of this interview experience in preparing teachers mathematical knowledge of content and students’ understanding of the content (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008).

Following the first FAI, the graduate students are tasked to create a model of the student’s thinking that again mirrors the model-building process of the IMB approach (see ‘Resources,’ Document B). To do this, they are asked to listen to their audio recording and select a clip that highlights what the student says or does as evidence of how the student thinks about particular ideas. They transcribe the segment of audio and conduct an analysis on what the student knows, does not know, and what further information would be helpful. As an example, the following task was given during one FAI conducted by a graduate student — . Going through the Model Building process, the graduate student who gave this question in their FAI highlighted the following portion of their transcript, and provided the accompanying image of the student’s work in solving this question.

Student: I did that because the equal sign is right there.  And so because these numbers are supposed to be at the beginning but they switched them around to the end and then you would add them together to get nine and then you would do plus two and then you write your answer (write 11 underneath the box).

Teacher: How could we check that this (points to the left side of the equation) equals this (points to the right side of the equation?  Is there a way we could check that?

Student: Umm… what do you mean?

Teacher:  So, I saw that you added these numbers together and placed the nine here.  Could we check or is there a way to check that these two things added together equals these numbers added together?

Student: I guess you could just add them together.

Teacher: Do they come out equal?

Student: No because this is eleven (points to left side of equation).  And then this goes three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.  Oh! So it goes eleven like that and then eleven, twelve, thirteen, like that and then that will equal nine.

Teacher: So I saw a light bulb go off.  Is that going to change he number you put in there (points to the box)?

Student: So if was eleven, wait, eleven, twelve, thirteen, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty-one, twenty-two and that equals twenty-two.  And that is your real answer.

Building on this evidence, the graduate student wrote the following model of the student’s thinking with this problem.  This model is the graduate student’s attempt at explaining the student’s thinking with the evidence provided from the task.

Given a numeric equation with values on each side of the equation but a missing value on one side (e.g. 17+5=___+4), the student added the numbers on one side of the equation and placed that sum into the blank space. The student then continued executing computations by placing another equal sign and adding the newly determined answer with the existing value on that side of the equation. This same action happened in two different tasks with the missing value on the left and right side of the equation. Thus, the student does not conceptually understand the meaning of the equal sign and/or the concept of equality. She does not understand that the equal sign describes the relationship between two expressions and that the correct answer should create two equal expressions.  Instead, the student views the equal sign as an indicator to perform computations to find answers.

This model describes what the student knows and understands with respect to different sides of an equation.

Following this first round of FAIs and Model Building, the graduate students then repeat this entire process again, with the same student. However, before the second round, the graduate students have an opportunity to first share their models and thinking in online discussion boards and receive written instructor feedback. Their peers are also required to comment and engage in dialogue with them through the virtual discussions. With the second FAI, the intent is for the mathematical content to align with the content of the first interview, but focus on revealing deeper understandings of this content from the same student. For example, if the first FAI asked questions that broadly addressed fractional understanding at grade three, and the graduate student recognized some misconceptions related to part-whole relationships and understanding, then the second FAI may be designed to focus entirely on part-whole relationships.  The purpose of the second FAI is to dive deeper into a child’s thinking about the concept to obtain a greater understanding of how the child conceptualizes part and whole.

As the graduate students conducted the series of two FAIs and two Model Building exercises, they focused on the same K-12 student to provide an in-depth understanding of that student’s knowledge. As a result, they were then asked to deeply study what they had learned about that student’s mathematical thinking and focus on that student as a case study. This is a component that is not included in the original IMB process.  Julie elected to add this component of a case study to provide her graduate students the opportunity to revisit both cycles of the FAIs and Model Building processes and formulate some ideas around supporting the student based on evidence from interactions across the two cycles. As a part of the case study, they write a formal paper about the student that includes an analysis of the students’ thinking and makes recommendations for supporting the students’ understanding in the classroom context—these components stem from the research literature on professional noticing and the importance of attending to thinking, interpreting thinking, and making instructional decisions of how to respond (Jacobs et al., 2010). In the final component of the case study paper, the graduate student situates the student’s understanding within the broader mathematics education literature. Therefore, Julie has adapted the FAI and Model Building process of the IMB to engage graduate students in the act of professional noticing through a specific focus on one child as a case study (Jacobs et al., 2010).  The following comment from one of the case study reports illustrates the value of this adapted experience for one student, but the same sentiment was echoed by others.

The student thinking uncovered during the formative assessment interviews and the learning from this course on noticing, cognitive demand, and teacher knowledge combined together to profoundly influence on my views of mathematics instruction. Slowing down to thoughtfully probe a struggling student’s thinking revealed so much more than my prior noticing ability would have allowed.

Ingrid’s Story of Adaptation at Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver)

Ingrid joined the IMB as a graduate teaching and research assistant in the second year of implementation. In her first year with the IMB, she instructed a section of the field experience with preservice elementary teachers. Later on in her doctoral program, she taught the affiliated science methods course that is taken in the cluster with the field experience, but was no longer an instructor of the field experience.  During this time however, she remained on the IMB as a research assistant. Therefore, throughout her time on the IMB project, Ingrid worked on many facets of the IMB and was integral in developing procedures and protocols for teaching the IMB approach.

At her current institution, Ingrid has adapted the Act of Teaching and Lesson Study components of the IMB, infusing it into her undergraduate elementary science and health methods course. Her institution is a large urban commuter campus with a large majority of students being undergraduates. The student body is diverse and most are from the expansive metropolitan area. For their field experience, which combines science, health, and mathematics, each preservice teacher is placed in an elementary classroom for 45 hours per semester. In most cases, this is usually the fourth field experience these preservice teachers have participated in for their program. The science and health methods course meets face-to-face for 15 weeks of classes and incorporates a teaching rehearsal experience in the methods course to provide the preservice teachers with the opportunity to practice a lesson they have planned and the Lesson Study component of the IMB approach before completing the teaching experience in the field with children.

The preservice teachers at MSU Denver are placed in separate classrooms for their field experience, thus they plan different lessons and teach the lessons independently.  Despite this independent teaching experience, Ingrid has tried to maintain the collaborative integrity of the Lesson Study component of the IMB by pairing preservice teachers that are placed at the same school or nearby schools.  The purpose of this pairing is so they can serve as peer observers for each other and participate in a shared Lesson Study experience. Unfortunately, this request cannot always be made, and in some instances the preservice teachers work with the mentor classroom teacher through the Act of Teaching and Lesson Study components.

Before the preservice teachers begin their teaching cycle in the field however, Ingrid has her preservice teachers participate in a type of teaching rehearsal (Lampert et al., 2013).  The preservice teachers are placed into teams of four or five and together they develop a learning plan (similar to a lesson) but with a focus on just the first three Es of a Learning Cycle (Engage, Explore, and Explain) and the learning objective.  Preservice teachers usually focus on science, but in some cases they elect to teach a health or engineering lesson. Two groups are then brought together to serve as the different members of the teaching cycle.  When one team is teaching, one member of the other team serves as the peer observer completing the Lesson Observation Form (see ‘Resources’, Document C) and all remaining members of the other group are acting as elementary students for the teaching of the lesson. The group then switches and they repeat the experience for another lesson. Following each rehearsal the two groups then walk through the Lesson Study Form and complete it for each rehearsed lesson.  Ingrid believes taking her students through this rehearsal of planning a lesson, teaching it, and practicing with the forms helps the preservice teachers to be more successful in all aspects of the Act of Teaching and Lesson Study when they conduct it in their smaller pairings and in the context of their field experience classrooms.

Due to the complex structure of field placement at Ingrid’s institution, with it being a commuter-based university serving a large urban/suburban area, Ingrid has made more adaptations to the IMB approach and documents than Julie, some of which are described above. Additional adaptations however, include Ingrid providing feedback on the each preservice teacher’s lesson and then having preservice teachers revise the lesson using this feedback, and having the preservice teacher partners participating in a Pre-Observation Conference.  The purpose of this conference is help the preservice teachers who are partnered for the Act of Teaching and Lesson Study (or the preservice teacher and the mentor teacher) to understand the learning objectives of the lesson and the intentions of the preservice teacher for structuring the lesson in the manner they did.  In addition, there is a section called “look-fors” that directs the preservice teachers to anticipate what the children should be able to do by the end of the lesson (with respect to the learning objective) and what evidence will be gathered to determine this goal was met. This is intended to support the preservice teachers to focus on students’ thinking in the Act of Teaching and Lesson Study processes in the field. The pair completes one Pre-Observation Conference Form (see ‘Resources’, Document E) together for each partner’s lesson. To complete the Act of Teaching and Lesson Study cycle, each preservice teacher is required to submit a packet to document the experience that includes: the Pre-Observation Conference Form, the Lesson Observation Form completed by their partner, their collaborative Lesson Study Form, a revised lesson that incorporates the color-coded revisions suggested in the Lesson Study, and a personal reflection paper about what they took away from the experience.

Lastly, Ingrid’s Act of Teaching/Lesson Study cycle concludes with a debriefing about the experience with all students in the class. She focuses much of the conversation on asking the preservice teachers to share what they reflected on in their individual papers about the experience and she guides the discussion with questions such as,

  • What did you think about the peer observation process?
  • How did participating in lesson study support your growth as a teacher?
    • What parts of the lesson study process were particularly helpful for you?
  • What would you do differently if you could do this again?
  • How did lesson study support you in focusing on students’ thinking?
  • What have you learned from the lesson study process that you will take with you in your future classroom?

From this class discussion she is able to glean how they view the whole process as supporting the preservice teachers’ understanding of how to focus their attention on children’s scientific thinking and use this information to inform their future instruction. ​

Reflecting on Our Stories of Adaptation: Lessons Learned

At Julie’s institution (University of Idaho [UI]), implementation using FAIs and Model Building have shown to be beneficial for the graduate students, as most of them are practicing classroom teachers. One accommodation from the IMB model is the time span for the FAIs and Model Building. In the modified version, two cycles are spread over six weeks, as opposed to having a new cycle each week. Additionally, one graduate student interviews one student in K-12, as opposed to working in pairs. This has afforded opportunities for greater flexibility with scheduling and diving in deeper around a specific mathematical topic. However, the graduate student has only one student with whom they work and do not develop a broader understanding of various students, which may lessen their opportunity for understanding the thinking of multiple students. Additionally, at UI, every graduate student selects the grade level and the student with whom they will work. The FAIs and Model Building then focus on their selected student and topic, which restricts collaboration across the graduate students and learning from one another; whereas with the original IMB model, the same mathematics topic (e.g., number sense) is covered by each team.  This modification affords teams experiencing the full IMB model the opportunity to learn from each other within their team, but also across the teams to learn about content progressions. Therefore, a possible limitation of the modification at UI is that every graduate student has a different topic and they are unable to share and discuss students’ thinking and ideas about a similar mathematical domain. Determining ways to work around this limitation depends on the intentions of the course instructor/teacher educator for using FAIs and Model Building.  For Julie, her focus is on developing individual teachers’ professional noticing, thus the limitations in collaborating with others does not prevent her from meeting her intentions.

Another accommodation from the IMB model is that Julie is unable to attend the FAI recordings in person unlike the field instructors at IUB who are present weekly.  The online nature of Julie’s course provided the graduate students with flexibility in accessing students and scheduling the recordings at times throughout the school day that worked for them and the students.  However, being disconnected to the context limited Julie’s abilities, she believes, in providing more targeted or individualized feedback regarding specific student’s thinking.  The inclusion of the case study however, is how Julie works around the limited contextual understanding she feels she has and it affords her the opportunity to dig more into an understanding of the ‘whole’ child that her graduate students’ are presenting to her.  The case study, while it includes evidence from the FAI and Model Building cycles, is only a portion of what is required for the case study paper.  Therefore, we suggest the FAI and Model Building be done not in isolation but merged with other tasks that can help foster deeper professional noticing, such as Julie has done with her Case Study assignment.

With respect to Ingrid’s story of adaptation at MSU Denver, the implementation of the IMB’s modified lesson study has been positively received. As previously described, two accommodations made by Ingrid were the implementation of a modified teaching rehearsal experience and the development of the Pre-Observation Conference Form (see ‘Resources’, Document E).  Considering her field placement arrangements, she learned she needed to include both of these modifications to give the preservice teachers practice with both the Act of Teaching and Lesson Study components before doing it in the field.  Also, because the preservice teachers are not placed in the same classroom (unlike IUB) they need the opportunity to first review each other’s lesson (i.e., Pre-Observation Conference) so they had some idea of what to expect when observing each other teach.

Overall, the preservice teachers at Ingrid’s institution mentioned they enjoy the “lower stakes” atmosphere of being observed by a peer (when possible) rather than a university supervisor and the opportunity to discuss possible revisions to the lesson with a peer considering their different participatory perspectives.  This arrangement can create a challenge however, as not all preservice teachers may provide the same level of constructive criticism for revising the lesson.  Ingrid has attempted to address this challenge by first providing the teaching rehearsal experience in class so students can gain experience in her methods course on how to complete the forms and provide constructive feedback on a lesson.

 Recommendations

There is consensus across both science and mathematics teacher education that for effective teaching to occur teachers must learn to recognize and build on students’ ideas and experiences (Bransford, Brown, &Cocking, 1999; Kang & Anderson, 2015, NRC, 2007; van Es & Sherin, 2008).  Considering this goal, preparation programs often design opportunities for prospective teachers to question and analyze students’ thinking, and when possible do so within the context of teaching science.  However, few programs offer a systematic and iterative experience such as the IMB approach, and this is due in part to the structural variation in teacher education programs and the varied constraints of these different models.  As Zeichner and Conklin (2005) explain,

there will always be a wide range of quality in any model of teacher education….The state policy context, type of institution, and institutional history and culture in which the program is located; the goals and capabilities of the teacher education faculty, and many other factors will affect the character and quality of programs (p. 700).

Therefore, our intent with this article is to show the potential for taking well-recognized practices for teacher education, such as those used in the IMB approach, and demonstrate how they can be combined for use in other science and mathematics teacher education models.  In particular, we wanted to highlight the adaptations made by Ingrid and Julie because their institutions and learner populations are very different from those where the IMB approach was initially developed, and this sort of variation in context is rarely described in the research (Zeichner & Conklin, 2005).  Despite the vast program differences at our three institutions, Ingrid and Julie were able to adapt key aspects of the IMB approach to fit the context and needs of their learners.

More specifically, although we recognize that individually the four aspects of the IMB approach are not innovative, it is the potential for combining features of the IMB, as Authors 2 and 3 have shared, that we believe demonstrates the innovation and potential of the IMB approach for impacting science and mathematics teacher learning. As such, we offer the following recommendations from lessons we have learned through our adaptive processes, with the hope of inspiring others to consider how they may combine features of the IMB for use at their institutions.

  1. Understand your own orientation toward teacher preparation. Begin with selecting aspects of the IMB approach that most align with your own beliefs as to core practices for developing teachers’ cognition about learning to attend to students’ thinking to inform practice. Ingrid and Julie made their selections based on what they viewed as critical practices given the professional development needs of their student teachers (i.e., their population of teacher), as well as the purpose of their course.
  2. Don’t lose sight of the goal! Make modifications to the sample documents provided (see Resources) or provide additional support documents (e.g., the Pre-Observation Conference form designed by Ingrid) to guide preservice or inservice teachers’ cognition of how to uncover K-12 students’ ideas and reflect on their ideas in order to identify rich and appropriate learning tasks.
  3. Choose the strategies that best fit your context. If some components of the IMB approach will not fit into your current program or university structure, select the one that will fit and be most appropriate for your own students and situation. The goal is to help preservice and inservice teachers understand their students’ thinking, and whatever strategies can best work for you and your students given your context are the ones to include.
  4. Remember that improvement is an iterative process. Continue to adapt and refine the approach as needed for your context. Once you have selected the aspect or aspects of IMB that you think will be most impactful, continue to reflect on and obtain feedback about the process from the students with whom you work, and then make modifications to support your goals.
  5. Collaboration is valuable and can take many forms. At the core of the IMB approach is the belief that collaboration leads to better understandings about learning to teach science and mathematics. Whether collaborating to plan, teach, and reflect on lessons taught, or the sharing of models of students’ thinking and engaging through discussion boards online, the notion of collaboration is still at the core of each of our pedagogical approaches to working with teachers. We recognize the structure of various institutions teacher education programs/courses may make it difficult to afford students the opportunity to collaborate in the same physical space (classroom, or school), as did Julie; however, it is worth exploring what technologies your institution may offer to arrange other means of collaborating in synchronous and asynchronous spaces.

[1] For further details comparing these two models of Lesson Study see Carter et al. (2016).

Supplemental Files

IMB-Supplementary-Materials.pdf

References

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Introducing ‘Making’ to Elementary and Secondary Preservice Science Teachers Across Two University Settings

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Rodriguez, S. R., Fletcher, S. S., & Harron, J. R. (2019). Introducing ‘making’ to elementary and secondary preservice science teachers across two university settings. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 4(4). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/introducing-making-to-elementary-and-secondary-preservice-science-teachers-across-two-university-settings/

by Shelly R. Rodriguez, The University of Texas, Austin; Steven S. Fletcher, St. Edwards University; & Jason R. Harron, The University of Texas, Austin

Abstract

‘Making’ describes a process of iterative fabrication that draws on a DIY mindset, is collaborative, and allows for student expression through the creation of meaningful products. While making and its associated practices have made their way into many K-12 settings, teacher preparation programs are still working to integrate making and maker activities into their courses. This paper describes an end-of-semester maker project designed to introduce preservice science teachers to making as an educational movement. The project was implemented in two different higher education contexts, a public university secondary STEM introduction to teaching course and a private university elementary science methods course. The purpose of this article is to share this work by articulating the fundamental elements of the project, describing how it was enacted in each of the two settings, reviewing insights gained, and discussing possibilities for future iterations. The project’s instructional strategies, materials, and insights will be useful for those interested in bringing making into science teacher preparation.

Keywords: constructionism; making; preservice; project-based; science education

Introduction

Over the past decade, there has been a surge of interest in how the field of education can benefit from the tools, processes, and practices of making (e.g., Clapp, Ross, Ryan, & Tishman, 2016; Fields, Kafai, Nakajima, Goode, & Margolis, 2018; Halverson & Sheridan, 2014; Stager & Martinez, 2013). Drawing from a “do it yourself” (DIY) mindset, classroom-based making can be defined as an iterative process of fabrication that allows students to express themselves through the creation of personally meaningful products that are publicly shared (Rodriguez, Harron, & DeGraff, 2018). Like traditional science and engineering practices, making involves the building of models, theories, and systems (NSTA, 2013). However, in contrast to these practices, making explicitly emphasizes the development of personal agency and student empowerment through creative, hands-on learning experiences that are both exciting and motivating (Clapp et al., 2016; Maker Education Initiative, n.d.). A shift towards maker-centered learning provides an opportunity to rethink how we prepare science educators with the aim of bringing more student-driven and personally meaningful experiences to their instructional practice.

Comparable to project-based learning (PBL) and other inquiry-based teaching practices, classroom making involves learning by doing. Maker-centered learning shares many elements found in High Quality Project Based Learning (HQPBL, 2018) which suggests that projects should include intellectual challenge and accomplishment, authenticity, collaboration, project management, the creation of a public product, and reflection. These elements overlap significantly with features of classroom-based making (Rodriguez, Harron, Fletcher, & Spock, 2018). However, maker-centered learning draws specifically on the theoretical underpinnings of constructionism (Papert, 1991), where learners gain knowledge as they actively design and build tangible digital or physical objects. Furthermore, maker-centered learning places emphasis on the originality and personal meaning of creations, the productive use of tools and materials in fabrication, the process of iterative design, and the development of a maker mindset that is growth-oriented and failure positive (Martin, 2015). Thus, in maker-centered learning, the skills of construction and design are acquired alongside the content.

There are several examples of the tools and materials associated with making being used as a way to help students explore the natural world (Bevan, 2017; Peppler, Halverson, & Kafai, 2016). For example, the use of copper tape, LEDs, and coin cell batteries have provided an avenue for science teachers to introduce circuits through the creation of interactive pop-up books and user-friendly paper circuit templates (Qi & Buechley, 2010, 2014). Sewable circuits, which use conductive thread, have been shown to improve student interest in science (Tofel-Grehl et al., 2017) and can be used in conjunction with embedded electronics, such as the Arduino-based Lilypad, to introduce computer science through the creation of e-textiles (Fields et al., 2018). However, not all making is digital. Making also includes traditional work such as welding, sewing, wood working, and other techniques that exist outside of the computational world.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has acknowledged the potential of making to foster innovation, increase student retention, and broaden participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) (National Science Foundation, 2017). However, more must be done to prepare future science educators to implement these practices in their classrooms. A national survey found that only half of undergraduate teacher preparation programs in the United States provided an opportunity to learn about maker-education and the associated technologies, and that only 17% had a makerspace available to their preservice teachers (Cohen, 2017). As such, many future educators are not exposed to formal training or professional development related to making. Since science teachers often uptake and implement the inquiry-based practices with which they have personal experience (Windschitl, 2003), a lack of exposure to maker-centered pedagogies may leave future educators unaware of the potential benefits of these innovations for their students.

This paper describes an end-of-semester project designed to introduce students to making as an educational movement. The project was implemented in two different settings. One was an introductory course offered as part of a secondary STEM teacher preparation program at a large public research university. The other was a science methods course designed for preservice elementary teachers offered at a private university. The purpose of this article is to share our work by articulating the fundamental elements of the project, describing the project as enacted in these two settings, reviewing insights gained, and discussing possibilities for future iterations.

The Maker Project

The maker project described in this paper was introduced four years ago in a secondary STEM teacher preparation course for a number of reasons. The first was to expose novice teachers to the practice of using open-ended projects with high levels of personal agency to uncover student ideas. The second was to spark creativity in the preservice teachers and engage them in the act of authentic problem solving. The final reason was to provide an opportunity for preservice teachers to interact with up-to-date educational tools that they may encounter in schools. Two years later, an elementary science methods course housed in a private university adopted this activity for similar reasons, with the additional hope of increasing preservice teacher self-efficacy around science content and tool use – a noted deficiency in the literature (Menon & Sadler, 2016; Rice & Roychoudhury, 2003; Yoon, et al., 2006).

The following section outlines strategies used to implement the project in the two different science teacher preparation settings. The fundamental elements of the project in both settings include: a) an introduction to making; b) a station activity to expose students to new technologies and materials; c) an open-ended construction task; d) extended out of class time to create a personally meaningful artifact; e) the public presentation of work to classmates, instructors, and guests; and f) reflections for the classroom. Table 1 provides description of each setting and an overview of how the project features were enacted.

Table 1 (Click on image to enlarge)
Project Features in Each Context

Context Specific Implementation

Implementation in an introductory secondary STEM teacher preparation course

The introductory secondary STEM teacher preparation course is a 90-minute, one credit hour class in a large R1 university in central Texas. It meets once a week with approximately 25 students in each of five sections. The class is considered a recruitment course and is designed to give STEM majors the chance to try out teaching. In this class, students observe and teach a series of STEM lessons in local elementary schools. Those choosing to continue with the program will go on to teach in middle and high school settings and ultimately earn their teaching certification in a secondary STEM field. In the Fall of 2018, 53% of the students in the course were female and 47% male. 64% were underclassmen, 36% were either juniors, seniors, or post baccalaureate students, and 59% had either applied for or were receiving financial aid. 46% were science majors, 16% were math majors, 11% were computer science and engineering majors, 4% were degree holders, and the remaining students were assigned to other majors or undecided.

In class. The maker project in this course began with a project introduction day occurring approximately three weeks from the end of the semester. To start, students were introduced to the concept of making through a video created by Make: magazine and presented with a prompt, “What is making?”, to think about as they watch the video (Maker Media, 2016). The video describes making as a DIY human endeavor that involves creating things that tell a personal story. After the video screening, students engaged in a Think-Pair-Share activity where they discussed the initial prompt in small groups and shared ideas in a whole class discussion, often describing making as personal, innovative, open-ended, and challenging (See Figure 1).

Figure 1 (Click on image to enlarge). Student ideas about making.

Next, the criteria for the final maker project was provided. The specific prompt for this project asked students to reflect on their teaching experience and to make an artifact that illustrated the story of their growth over the semester. Students were shown examples of what others had created in previous semesters. Some past projects featured traditional construction and craft materials such as woodworking and papier-mâché while others included digital tools such as 3D printing, block-based coding, and Arduinos. Students were also shown examples of maker projects as enacted in STEM classrooms such as activities that have K-12 pupils creating museum exhibits to learn about properties of water, using paper circuits to create illuminated food webs, and creating interactive cell models using a Makey Makey.

After reviewing project examples, time was spent introducing the class to several digital technologies through a stations activity. Though digital technologies were not given preference for the project, this activity was an opportunity to have students explore some of the digital tools that encourage invention in the classroom. The class was broken into groups and each group was given ten minutes to explore various digital tools and resources including Scratch, Instructables, Makey Makey, and Circuit Playground (See Appendix A). Preservice teachers farther along in the teacher preparation program facilitated the stations and helped current students explore the new technologies. A handout of useful websites and a place to make notes at each station was also provided (See Appendix B). Students rotated stations such that by the end of the activity they had briefly explored each of the technologies. The final part of the project introduction day was a reflective table talk that occurred after the station activity. At this time, students talked with their classmates and discussed ideas for their final maker project. They were encouraged to connect their project to something they cared about or a specific interest.

Out of class. Students were given two weeks to independently complete their maker projects. Students were free to incorporate traditional skills such as crafts, sewing, knitting, wood working, or metal working in their creation. They were also free to use the digital tools explored in class, or to combine digital and traditional tools to make something new. There was no additional class time provided however, the instructor and TA were available to help students outside of class. Students were encouraged to upcycle, or creatively reuse materials they already had, in creating their projects. Additionally, students were provided with a list of campus locations where they had free access to fabrication tools such as 3D printers, laser cutters, and sewing machines. The students had access to a workroom with traditional school supplies and a suite of recycled materials. Students could also check out digital tools from the program inventory. All of these items were available to them at no cost.

Presentation and reflection. On the last day of class, students presented their creations via a gallery walk format with half of the class presenting at one time and the other half circulating and serving as the audience. Students in the course produced a wide array of personally significant artifacts each of which told a story about their specific experience. Other preservice teachers, staff, and instructors from the program were invited to the presentations giving each student the opportunity to exhibit their work to a large audience. At the end of the presentation session, students completed a short reflection on making, classroom applications, and the project experience. Complete instructional materials for this maker project can be found at https://tinyurl.com/maker-final-project.

Implementation in an elementary science methods course

Elementary Science Methods (ESM) is a required course for all students seeking EC-6 teacher certification at a private liberal arts institution in central Texas. ESM is a 75-minute class that meets twice each week on the university campus in a general science lab. It is offered in the fall semester only and typically enrolls 24 students.  Students are predominantly in their final year of the preparation program before student teaching and ESM is one of two science classes required for their graduation from the institution. In the Fall of 2018, there were 23 total students in the ESM course. Twenty-two (96%) of the students in the course were female and one (4%) was male. Two (8%) of the students were sophomores and twenty-one (92%) were either juniors or seniors. Fourteen students (61%) were elementary teaching majors, eight (35%) were special education teacher majors, and the remaining student (4%) was preparing to become a bilingual elementary teacher.

Inspired by the project described above, the ESM maker final project was added to the syllabus three years ago to address specific issues observed from previous semesters of work with elementary science teachers in this context. First, many of the students in prior iterations of ESM had low self-efficacy about their ability to learn and teach science. Thus, one goal for implementing a maker project was to boost student confidence by engaging in a creative activity with a concrete product related to a science concept. Two additional goals relate to the original project from the secondary program: To introduce students to current knowledge around emerging trends in technology and science and to stimulate discussion around the value and challenges of authentic inquiry as a means for student learning and engagement. Since the act of making requires a personal commitment to the production of a product, the instructor hoped that this activity would enliven student curiosity and demonstrate the value of open-ended projects for their own elementary classrooms.

In class. As with the secondary STEM maker project, this project was framed as a culminating experience introduced near the end of the semester. Similarly, the first day of the lesson began with a video introduction to making. The lesson also included a rotating station activity with a supporting handout. Due to resource availability and focus on elementary school outcomes, the instructor modified the content of the stations. For this iteration, a paper circuits station and a bristlebot station were substituted for the Circuit Playground and Scratch stations. Emphasis was placed on exploration and play at each station and developing a sense of wonder around the materials or ideas. At the end of the class, groups shared what they noticed about the various activities in small groups and the instructor introduced the project options to the class. Students were given a choice to either: a) create a product that documented learning to use a tool or product that would demonstrate its possible usefulness in elementary science, or b) investigate an aspect of making, write a summary of the research, and create a visual product highlighting what they learned.

The second day of the lesson began with a recap of the project criteria. The criteria for this project, while open-ended to allow for authentic, personally meaningful work, included specific elements that related to state standards for elementary science, attention to safety, a projected calendar and a pre-assessment of how project goals and outcomes related to available tools, equipment, and resources to complete the work (see Appendix C). Students were given time to consider potential project options and discuss their ideas with their peers and instructor.

Out of class. Students were provided three weeks to complete the project before the culminating presentation. This timeframe included the Thanksgiving holiday and many students worked on their product at home.  During the last week of classes, the students were given an additional class day to share their projects in an unfinished state for feedback, to revise and refine their ideas, and to borrow tools from the supply cabinet for completion.

Presentation and reflection. During the final exam period, student products were set up and shared with peers and instructor in a maker exhibition. As in the secondary setting, the project presentations took place science fair style with half of the students presenting and half serving as the audience at any one time. Students also completed a written reflection discussing challenges, reiterating connections to science standards, and reflecting on lessons learned from the experience.

Insights from Project Implementation

While there was no formal data collection included as part of this project, student products and reflections from each setting provide initial insights. Figure 2 provides an overview of general insights as well as those specific to each context.

Figure 2 (Click on image to enlarge). An overview of maker project insights.

General Insights

The two contexts for maker project implementation differed significantly. However, insights emerged that were common to both settings. First, in both contexts, the preservice teachers developed a wide range of products including both high- and low-tech creations (see Appendix D). Figure 3 shows: a) a DIY water filtration system; b) an interactive neuron model; c) a series of origami swans; d) soldered paper circuit holiday cards e); a fluidized air bed; and f) an interactive model of a new “teacher” with makey makey fruit controls and related story.

Figure 3 (Click on image to enlarge). A range of student-generated maker projects.

The work produced for this project was personally connected to the interests and motivations of the makers and rooted in the students’ own lives. Second, reflections from preservice teachers in both courses indicate that, through this project, many students experienced the importance of persistence and adaptability when encountering challenges. The open-ended nature of the project turned out to be one of its most important elements as it challenged students develop an original idea and then persist and adapt to bring their idea to life. Third, in both contexts, many preservice teachers described a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment stemming from the creation and presentation of their work. Finally, students in both courses made connections between their maker experience and the process of teaching and learning. Table 2 shows comments from student reflections related to these themes.

Table 2 (Click on image to enlarge)
Student Comments From Both Maker Project Settings

Additionally, in both settings, the project encouraged some students to take making further. In the secondary setting, multiple students went on to join the maker micro-credentialing program offered by the teacher preparation program. In the elementary setting, several students completed independent projects in the area of making. For example, two students collected data, worked with university faculty and teachers at local makerspaces, and presented their findings on supporting special needs students in making at a local maker education conference.

Insights from an Introductory Secondary STEM Teacher Preparation Course

Written reflections indicate that many members of the secondary STEM teacher preparation course developed a deeper understanding of the nature of making. As an example, one student wrote that “I thought that making was all about electronics and coding but there is so much more…it generates your own creativity and interests.” Another student wrote, “Making is about putting one’s experiences and passions into a project. Making adds a sense of ownership and differentiation.” This was a first exposure to making for most students and their reflections indicate that the project helped them develop a personal conception of what it means to make.

Second, this project helped model the creation of a safe space for exploration and failure for these students. The class mantra during this project was “You can’t get it wrong” and student reflections illustrated their connection with this part of a maker mindset. For example, one student commented, “Making is about growing as an explorer. Making is not being afraid to fail! At the beginning I thought making was trivial but I now see the importance of hands on learning as a chance to really fail.”  Another student said, “During creating, I asked myself ‘Am I doing it right?’ ‘Is this fine?’ and when I was presenting I realized ‘this is totally fine, there is no right or wrong’.” This positive message about failure is not one that STEM undergraduates at large public universities often hear. Thus, for this group, the project provided an essential model for rewarding effort over the commonly prioritized final product.

Insights from an Elementary Science Methods Course

The elementary preservice teachers in the three-hour course showed increased confidence with a wide array of maker tools and equipment such as soldering irons, electronics, and woodworking equipment. The open-ended nature of the assignment allowed students in this course to make a range of high-level products, from a 2D model of a neural cell that used different colored LED’s to show how a neural impulse moves, to holiday cards, to a fluidized airbed. Reflections indicate that many students felt increased confidence with equipment related to their projects. One student commented, “I never thought I’d be able to solder, but after connecting the LED’s to the paper circuit holiday cards, I can do it!  Thanks for giving me the chance to learn this. I want to try making jewelry next.”

The students in the ESM course also made specific connections to teaching science in the elementary context. Student reflections show that they honed in on ideas of agency and engagement as central features of making that would motivate them to do projects of this kind with their future pupils. For example, one student said, “I am totally going to use making in my science classroom because it makes students take responsibility for their own learning and gives them ownership of their work.” Another student wrote, through making “you can make science fun and creative for students allowing them to take control of creating whatever they can dream of.” These reflections illustrate the potential of this project to influence the classroom instruction of these future teachers.

Finally, one unique outcome was that many members of the elementary group experienced making as an opportunity to create with friends and family. The project implementation in this setting coincided with the Thanksgiving holiday, giving many students the opportunity to work with parents or friends. For example, one student shared the specifics of her maker journey with permission.  When the project was introduced, she considered making something for her father as a holiday gift. She initially wanted to learn how to create fly-fishing flies based on her father’s love of fishing. However, the costs of buying materials were prohibitive. A chance visit to a website that showed a video demonstrating the non-Newtonian nature of a fluidized airbed then excited her to consider making her own model to demonstrate this fascinating phenomenon.  After checking that the proper equipment to make a small model was available in her family garage, she traveled home for Thanksgiving with initial instructions.  She worked with her father over the break to bring her creation to life. Like many maker projects, the initial results required refinement. Challenges included compressor issues as well as using the wrong substrate for the bed material. However, she persisted and was able to present her model at the maker exhibition with pride. The student’s build is documented in this video. It highlights her energy and enthusiasm for the work. She recently shared with Steve that she will be refining her initial attempt again, having secured a bigger compressor and better substrate.

While making is a journey that differs for each maker, many of the students in the ESM class included a significant other in their building process. This was an unexpected outcome and may have led to more collaborative and ambitious creations. This insight highlights the potential of making as a community-building endeavor.

Project Management

It should be noted that some students were challenged by the technical details and time required to produce a working product so it is important to provide extended time and to include out of class support. This might include additional office hours and partnering with more advanced students to provide technical support. Consider working with campus engineering, art, or instructional technology departments to find others willing to help with advice on construction and tool use. In addition, instructors should consult with appropriate university departments concerning risk management strategies to ensure student safety. Requiring students who plan to use equipment with potential risk in their projects (woodworking or metalworking equipment for example) to complete safety training is highly recommended. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration provides guidelines for safe hand and power tool use (OSHA, 2002).

Regular check-ins with students are also useful. Instructors implementing this type of activity might encourage students to complete weekly reflections and upload photos to document the evolution of their process. Including documentation practices of this kind models the use of electronic platforms, such as Blackboard or Canvas, now common in many school districts, as portfolio systems that can be used to capture and share the ongoing work of their K-12 pupils.

Discussion

The culminating maker project was an open-ended assignment where students were invited to: a) make an artifact related to STEM teaching; b) present their product publicly; c) reflect on their work; and d) consider classroom applications. In the process of creation and making, the students explored new digital, craft, and construction technologies and created a product of personal significance. Through making, students in the class experienced fundamental aspects of creativity, agency, persistence, and reflection.  These attributes are essential elements of 21st century learning and are traits that early-career K-12 science teachers are expected to model and train their own pupils to embody.  Furthermore, when students integrate scientific practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts in the authentic products they create, then maker-centered instruction can facilitate NGSS three-dimensional learning principles in a personally meaningful way (National Research Council, n.d.).

This open-ended maker project is adaptable to varied contexts thus, the expertise and goals of the instructor or facilitator will likely shape the student experience. For example, in this project, students reflected on their growth as educators but with a different set of criteria in each setting. For the secondary students who were majoring in a STEM field, self-efficacy around science content was not an issue. Because the course was only one-credit hour, creativity and effort producing an open-ended product was emphasized. Additionally, the TA for this course was well-versed in maker-related electronics and provided extra support to students attempting novel projects with these tools. In the Elementary Science Methods course, the instructor focused on connections to science standards and building confidence in the use of basic tools, with which he had extensive experience. Thus, this project can be used to achieve a wide array of outcomes and instructors should be thoughtful about their project aims from the start, paying special attention to providing a wide range of practice, play, and examples from the maker world. Connecting to local makers, artisans, and craftsman can expand the project’s reach.

Furthermore, in both courses, equitable teaching and learning are addressed during other activities. However, because making is often situated in a privileged and gendered paradigm (Vossoughi, Hooper, & Escudé, 2016), future iterations of this activity could include an element that explicitly examines how students can negotiate the opportunities and challenges of the activity in diverse classroom settings. Explicit reflections on equity and readings on these issues as they relate to maker education would be productive additions for future iterations.

Conclusion

Tenacity in the face of adversity is a common trait among successful teachers who must evaluate and adapt their teaching to new situations on a daily basis, and who undoubtedly fail many times but use those failures to learn and grow. In the same way, this culminating maker project was scary, messy, exciting, and inspiring. While student projects rarely turned out as planned, student reflections suggest that the experience helped them to value and embrace this ill structured process. As future teachers, this maker experience may be critical in helping our newest practitioners envision a classroom space where students are personally connected to content, have ownership of their learning, are given the freedom to explore and create without fear, and are encouraged to persist in the face of challenges. In this way, including a project that addresses elements of making and fosters a maker mindset can be a valuable step toward preparing preservice teachers to bring innovative and inspirational practices to science education.

Acknowledgement

This article was developed in connection with the UTeach Maker program at The University of Texas at Austin. UTeach Maker is funded in part by a Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship grant from the National Science Foundation (1557155). Opinions expressed in this submission are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The National Science Foundation.

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Lessons Learned from Going Global: Infusing Classroom-based Global Collaboration (CBGC) into STEM Preservice Teacher Preparation

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York, M. K., Hite, R., & Donaldson, K. (2019). Lessons learned from going global: Infusing classroom-based global collaboration (CBGC) into STEM preservice teacher preparation. Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/lessons-learned-from-going-global-infusing-classroom-based-global-collaboration-cbgc-into-stem-preservice-teacher-preparation/

by M. Kate York, The University of Texas at Dallas; Rebecca Hite, Texas Tech University; & Katie Donaldson, The University of Texas at Dallas

Abstract

There are many affordances of integrating classroom-based global collaboration (CBGC) experiences into the K-12 STEM classroom, yet few opportunities for STEM preservice teachers (PST) to participate in these strategies during their teacher preparation program (TPP). We describe the experiences of 12 STEM PSTs enrolled in a CBGC-enhanced course in a TPP. PSTs participated in one limited communication CBGC (using mathematics content to make origami for a global audience), two sustained engaged CBGCs (with STEM PSTs and in-service graduate students at universities in Belarus and South Korea), and an individual capstone CBGC-infused project-based learning (PBL) project. Participating STEM PSTs reported positive outcomes for themselves as teachers in their 21st century skills development and increased pedagogical content knowledge. Participants also discussed potential benefits for their students in cultural understanding and open-mindedness. Implementation of each of these CBGCs in the STEM PST course, as well as STEM PST instructors’ reactions and thoughts, are discussed.

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