In this article, we describe an assignment that we have developed in our Engineering for Elementary Teachers course. The assignment was designed to address social justice within the engineering design process. In this course, preservice teachers (PSTs) develop an engineering project that integrates six criteria of engineering for social justice into their lesson plan as a way to make the social relevance of engineering more apparent. Beyond having teachers develop an engineering lesson plan, the goal is to increase awareness of the social justice dimension of engineering as a strategy for integrating culturally relevant pedagogies into engineering lessons. In this article, we share several lessons our PSTs have developed as well as insights that they gained about the relationship between engineering and social justice. We also share some of the challenges that the PSTs faced and the insights that we gained about integrating social justice criteria into engineering lessons.
We report on the development and implementation of a conference designed to highlight the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) using lesson study as an effective professional-development practice for inservice teachers. The purpose of this article is to highlight details from the development and implementation that can be used by others wishing to replicate the conference. First, we give an overview of the practice of lesson study and explain how it was used by one of four lesson study teams that taught their research lesson publicly at the conference in front of 80 observers. Then, we describe a sample research proposal and share specific information about the processes used to coach the lesson study teams and plan the conference, and we share conference agendas and diagrams of lesson implementations to support readers’ visualization of the implementation. Finally, we conclude with three planning components that were vital to our ability to execute the conference and link the design to existing lesson study literature.
To engage elementary preservice teachers enrolled in a science methods course in authentically doing science, I developed an assignment focused on the NGSS scientific practices. Unless preservice teachers engage in some type of authentic science, they will never understand the scientific practices and will be ill-equipped to communicate these practices to their future students or engage future students in authentic science. The two main objectives for this assignment were for the PSTs to gain a more realistic understanding of how science is done and gain confidence in conducting investigations incorporating the scientific practices to implement in their future classrooms. To obtain evidence about how these objectives were met, I posed the following questions: What do PSTs learn about using the practices of science from this experience, and what do they predict they will implement in their future teaching relevant to authentic investigations using the scientific practices? Quotes from preservice teachers demonstrating their (a) learning relevant to doing science, (b) their struggles doing this type of investigation, and (c) predictions of how they might incorporate the scientific practices in their future teaching are included. The assignment and the challenges encountered implementing this assignment in a science methods course are also described.
Widespread implementation of phenomenon-based science instruction aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) remains low. One reason for the disparity between teachers’ instructional practice and NGSS adoption is the lack of comprehensive, high-quality curriculum materials that are educative for teachers. To counter this, we configured a set of instructional routines that prioritize student sensemaking and then modeled these routines with grades 6–12 inservice science teachers during a 3-hour professional learning workshop that included reflection and planning time for teachers. These instructional routines included: (1) engaging students in asking questions and making observations of a phenomenon, (2) using a driving question board to document students’ questions and key concepts learned from the lesson, (3) prompting students to develop initial models of the phenomenon to elicit their background knowledge, (4) coherent sequencing of student-led investigations related to the phenomenon, (5) using a summary table as a tool for students to track their learning over time, and (6) constructing a class consensus model and scientific explanation of the phenomenon. This workshop was part of a larger professional learning partnership aimed at improving secondary science teachers’ knowledge and skills for planning and implementing phenomenon-based science. We found that sequencing these instructional routines as a scalable model of instruction was helpful for teachers because it could be replicated by any secondary science teacher during lesson planning. Teachers were able to work collaboratively with their grade- or course-level colleagues to develop lessons that incorporated these instructional routines and made phenomenon-based science learning more central in classrooms.
The third space of teacher education (Zeichner, 2010) bridges the academic pedagogical knowledge of the university and the practical knowledge of the inservice K-12 teacher. A third space elementary science methods class was taught at a local elementary school with inservice teachers acting as mentors and allowing preservice teachers into their classes each week. Preservice teachers applied the pedagogical knowledge from the course in their elementary classrooms. The course has been revised constantly over six semesters to improve its logistics and the pre-service teacher experience. This article summarizes how the course has been developed and improved.
The new Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) call for a dramatic shift in science teaching and learning, with a focus on students engaging in science practices as they make sense of natural phenomena. In addition, the NGSS have a significant and explicit focus on climate change. The adoption of these new standards in many states across the nation have created a critical need for on-going professional learning as inservice science educators begin to implement three-dimensional instruction in their classrooms. This paper describes an innovative professional learning workshop on climate change for secondary science teachers, designed by teacher educators and scientists. The workshop was designed to improve teachers’ capacity to deliver effective three-dimensional climate change instruction in their classrooms. We present the structure and goals of the workshop, describe how theories of effective professional learning drove the design of the workshop, and address the affordances and challenges of implementing this type of professional learning experience.