Facilitating Preservice Teachers’ Socioscientific Issues Curriculum Design in Teacher Education

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Foulk, J.A., Sadler, T.D., & Friedrichsen, P.M. (2020). Facilitating preservice teachers’ socioscientific issues curriculum design in teacher education. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(3). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/facilitating-preservice-teachers-socioscientific-issues-curriculum-design-in-teacher-education/

by Jaimie A. Foulk, University of Missouri - Columbia; Troy D. Sadler, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill; & Patricia M. Friedrichsen, University of Missouri - Columbia

Abstract

Socioscientific issues (SSI) are contentious and ill-structured societal issues with substantive connections to science, which require an understanding of science, but are unable to be solved by science alone. Consistent with current K-12 science education reforms, SSI based teaching uses SSI as a context for science learning and has been shown to offer numerous student benefits. While K-12 teachers have expressed positive perceptions of SSI for science learning, they cite uncertainty about how to teach with SSI and lack of access to SSI based curricular materials as reasons for not utilizing a SSI based teaching approach. In response to this need we developed and taught a multi-phase SSI Teaching Module during a Science Methods course for pre-service secondary teachers (PSTs), designed to 1) engage PSTs as learners in an authentic SSI science unit; 2) guide PSTs in making sense of an SSI approach to teaching and learning; and 3) support PSTs in designing SSI-based curricular units. To share our experience with the Teaching Module and encourage teacher educators to consider ways of adapting such an approach to their pre-service teacher education contexts, we present our design and resources from the SSI Teaching Module and describe some of the ways PSTs described their challenges, successes, and responses to the experience, as well as considerations for teacher educators interested in introducing PSTs to SSI.

Introduction

Socioscientific issues (SSI) based teaching is a pedagogical philosophy consistent with current reform movements in K-12 science education (Zeidler, 2014b). SSI are societal issue[s] with substantive connections to science ideas (Sadler, Foulk, & Friedrichsen, 2017, p. 75), which lack structure, are controversial in nature, and for which science understanding is necessary but insufficient to offer complete solutions (Borgerding & Dagistan, 2018; Kolstø, 2006; Owens, Sadler, & Friedrichsen, 2019; Simonneaux, 2007). Because they are values-influenced, lack clear solutions, and bear significant, and often conflicting, implications for society, SSI tend to be contentious (Zeidler, 2014a).

Studies of SSI-focused learning contexts have identified many learner benefits. Students who participated in SSI-based learning experiences have demonstrated gains in understanding of science ideas (Dawson & Venville, 2010, 2013; Sadler, Klosterman, & Topcu, 2011; Sadler, Romine, & Topçu, 2016; Venville & Dawson, 2010), nature of science (Khishfe & Lederman, 2006; Lederman, Antink, & Bartos, 2014; Sadler, Chambers, & Zeidler, 2004); and scientific practices, such as modeling (Peel, Zangori, Friedrichsen, Hayes, & Sadler, 2019; Zangori, Peel, Kinslow, Friedrichsen, & Sadler, 2017) and argumentation (Venville & Dawson, 2010). Beyond these traditional learning outcomes, studies have also identified benefits such as improved reasoning skills (Kolstø et al., 2006; Sadler et al., 2004; Sadler & Zeidler, 2005; Zeidler, Applebaum, & Sadler, 2011); moral, ethical, and character development (Fowler, Zeidler, & Sadler, 2009; H. Lee, Abd‐El‐Khalick, & Choi, 2006); and increased enthusiasm and interest within science learning contexts (M. K. Lee & Erdogan, 2007; Saunders & Rennie, 2013).

The role of classroom teachers is of primary importance in facilitating reform-oriented learner experiences (Bybee, 1993) such as those based on SSI. Research has revealed that many classroom teachers hold favorable perceptions of SSI; however, despite some K-12 science teachers’ recognition of potential benefits to learners, and acknowledgements of the subsequent importance of incorporating SSI into science classroom contexts, research indicates that K-12 science teachers struggle to incorporate an SSI-focused pedagogy in their classrooms, and those who utilize SSI tend to do so infrequently and superficially (H. Lee et al., 2006; Lumpe, Haney, & Czerniak, 1998; Sadler, Amirshokoohi, Kazempour, & Allspaw, 2006; Saunders & Rennie, 2013). Three notable explanations for teachers’ omission of SSI-focused activities from their classrooms are: teachers’ unfamiliarity, lack of experience, and/or discomfort with an SSI-focused teaching approach (H. Lee et al., 2006; Sadler et al., 2006; Saunders & Rennie, 2013); teachers’ limited access to SSI-focused curricular resources (Sadler et al., 2006); and discrepancies between teachers’ perceptions of SSI and the philosophical basis of the pedagogy (Hansen & Olson, 1996; H. Lee et al., 2006; Sadler et al., 2006).

While a small number of prepared curricular resources for SSI have begun to be made available to teachers (cf. Kinslow & Sadler, 2018; Science Education Resource Center; The ReSTEM Institute; Zeidler & Kahn, 2014a), practical access to SSI curricula remains limited. Literature around SSI features an array of project-specific SSI-focused curricular resources on a variety of topics (Carson & Dawson, 2016; Christenson, Chang Rundgren, & Höglund, 2012; Dawson & Venville, 2010; Eilks, 2002; Eilks, Marks, & Feierabend, 2008; Friedrichsen, Sadler, Graham, & Brown, 2016; Kolstø, 2006; Lederman et al., 2014; H Lee et al., 2013; Peel et al., 2019; Sadler & Zeidler, 2005). However, only very few of the studies (Eilks, 2002; Friedrichsen et al., 2016; Zeidler et al., 2011) have focused on the process or products of SSI curricular design and the curricula from this research generally have not been distributed for classroom use. In addition, research has demonstrated the potentially transformative power to teachers of engaging in the design of reform-oriented, including SSI-focused, curricular resources (Coenders, Terlouw, Dijkstra, & Pieters, 2010; Eilks & Markic, 2011; Hancock, Friedrichsen, Kinslow, & Sadler, 2019; Zeidler et al., 2011).

In view of the demonstrated discrepancy between teachers’ perceptions and enactment of SSI; limited access to SSI curricular resources; the transformative value of engaging in reform-oriented curricular design; and the potential of SSI-based pedagogy to promote reform-oriented learning experiences; we view supporting teachers in the design of SSI-oriented curricula as a promising approach to educational reform. This project reflects that view. We sought to support pre-service science teachers (PSTs) in their uptake of SSI-based teaching in a Science Methods course through our design and teaching of an SSI Teaching Module intended to: 1) engage PSTs as learners in an authentic SSI science unit; 2) guide PSTs in making sense of an SSI approach to teaching and learning; and 3) support PSTs in designing SSI-based curricular units. The purpose of this paper is to describe our Teaching Module and share related resources with teacher educators, as well as to provide some examples of PSTs’ challenges, successes, and responses to the experience. It is our hope that the Teaching Module will serve as an inspiration for teacher educators interested in supporting future science teachers’ uptake of SSI.

SSI-TL – A Framework to Operationalize SSI-Based Pedagogy

Our group has developed the SSI Teaching and Learning (SSI-TL) Framework (Sadler et al., 2017) for the purpose of supporting teachers’ uptake of SSI-based teaching. Intended as a guide for classroom teachers, the SSI-TL framework highlights elements we consider to be essential to teaching science with SSI, while also remaining highly adaptable to various subdisciplines, courses, and classroom contexts in K-12 science education. SSI-TL is one instantiation of SSI-based teaching, developed from multiple projects that utilized research-based SSI frameworks featured in previous literature (Foulk, 2016; Friedrichsen et al., 2016; Klosterman & Sadler, 2010; Presley et al., 2013; Sadler, 2011; Sadler et al., 2015; Sadler et al., 2016). This project contributed to the development of SSI-TL, and we drew from an intermediate version of the framework throughout the project (See Figure 1).

Figure 1 (Click on image to enlarge)
SSI-TL Framework

SSI-TL specifies requisite components of SSI-based learning experiences, the sum total of which are necessary for a complete SSI-TL curricular unit. Such a unit consists of a cohesive, two- to three-week sequence of lessons designed around a particular SSI, to promote students’ achievement of a defined set of science learning objectives. Within any SSI-TL curricular unit, a focal SSI is foregrounded in the curricular sequence and revisited regularly throughout the unit, in order to serve as both motivation and context for learners’ engagement in authentic science practices and sensemaking about science ideas. A continuous focus on the selected SSI also guides students in exploration of societal dimensions of the issue; that is, the potential impacts of the issue on society, such as those of a social, political, or economic nature. Participation in an SSI-TL unit is intended to engage students in sensemaking about both the relevant science ideas and the societal dimensions of the issue. Student learning in SSI-based teaching is assessed with a culminating project in which learners synthesize their understanding of scientific and societal aspects relevant to the issue. In this project, our intermediate version of the SSI-TL framework served as both a representation of SSI-based teaching and a tool to support PSTs’ uptake of the approach.

The SSI Teaching Module in a Methods Course

Project Context, Goals, and Audience

The project described in this paper consisted of a six-week SSI Teaching Module that was implemented during a semester-long Science Methods course for secondary PSTs. The Science Methods course was the last in a sequence of three required methods courses in an undergraduate secondary science education program, and occurred immediately prior to the student teaching experience. The focus of the 16-week course was curricular planning and development, and the primary course goal was that PSTs would be able to design a coherent secondary science curricular unit, consisting of a two- to three-week sequence of related lessons organized around selected NGSS performance expectations. The purposes of the six-week SSI Teaching Module were to facilitate PSTs’ familiarity with SSI-based teaching; to explicate and challenge, as appropriate, PSTs’ perceptions about SSI; and to promote PSTs’ learning about SSI-based science teaching, as evidenced by their ability to develop cohesive science curricular units consistent with the SSI-TL framework.

A cohort of 13 PSTs in their final year of undergraduate coursework completed the SSI Teaching Module during Fall 2015. The first author developed and taught the SSI Teaching Module and the Science Methods course and conducted assessment of PSTs’ work in the course. The second author served in an advisory capacity during design, enactment, and assessment phases of the Teaching Module and Methods course. Both the second and third authors served as advisors during the writing stages of the project.

Project Design

The SSI Teaching Module consisted of three distinct phases, in which PSTs engaged with SSI-based science education from the perspectives of learner, teacher, and curriculum maker. (See SSI Teaching Module Schedule, below). In the first phase of the SSI Teaching Module, PSTs participated as learners of science in a sample secondary science unit designed using the SSI-TL framework, learning science content which was contextualized in an authentic SSI. (See SSI units for secondary science at our project website: http://ri2.missouri.edu/ri2modules.) In the second phase of the SSI Teaching Module, the PSTs spent time considering their SSI learning experience, this time from a teacher perspective, with explicit attention to the SSI-TL framework and key components of the sample SSI unit. Finally, in the third phase, the PSTs created SSI-based curricular units for use in their future secondary science classrooms. In all phases of the SSI Teaching Module, PSTs were asked to engage in personal reflection about their perceptions of SSI and its potential utility in their future teaching practice, with various writing prompts used during class, reflective writing assignments, and in-class discussion. More detailed description of each phase of the SSI Teaching Module follows (See Table 1).

Table 1 (Click on image to enlarge)
SSI Teaching Module Schedule

SSI Teaching Module – Phase 1: Learning Science with SSI

The first phase of the SSI Teaching Module focused on PSTs’ engagement with a sample SSI-TL unit. The sample unit was developed for an Advanced Exercise Science course at the secondary level, using NGSS standards relevant to the topic of energy systems, and presented through a nutritional science lens. The focal SSI for the nutrition unit was taxation of obesogenic foods. The SSI nutrition unit, as representation of the SSI-TL approach, engaged PSTs in several learning activities appropriate for incorporation into their own secondary-level SSI curricular unit designs. During this phase PSTs explored societal dimensions of the issue and engaged in sensemaking about the relevant science ideas, just as secondary students would do. Find the complete “Fat Tax” SSI-TL unit plan on our project website: http://ri2.missouri.edu/ri2modules/Fat Tax/intro.

The nutrition focus of the sample SSI unit was purposely selected for several reasons. First, this choice of topic leveraged the first author’s personal background and interest in nutritional sciences. Second, a pair of teaching partners in a local secondary school had approached the first author for help with preparing a unit for a new course they would be teaching. Finally, this topic offered opportunities for the methods students who had content backgrounds in different science disciplines to see the integration of diverse science ideas, and to build upon their own content knowledge. The SSI nutrition unit and the secondary course for which it was prepared represented authentic possibilities for PSTs’ future teaching assignments.

As specified in the SSI-TL framework, the SSI nutrition unit was introduced with a focal SSI. PSTs began by reading an article about a proposed “fat tax,” and were then asked to articulate and share ideas about the issue, providing reasoning to support their positions. Various positions were proposed, and a lively discussion followed. “Henry,” who had previously worked in a grocery store, shared initial support for the tax, justified by his personal observations of patterns in consumer buying habits. “Gregg” pushed back on what he considered to be stereotyping in Henry’s example, and argued that taxation of groups of food items toward controlling consumer choice was not within the purview of government agencies and could place an unnecessary burden on population subgroups such as college students and young families, who might depend on convenience foods during particular life phases. Various PSTs shared about personal and family experiences linking nutrition and health, which highlighted the challenge of defining “healthful” nutrition. The result of this introductory activity was PSTs’ recognition of their need to better understand both scientific and societal dimensions of the issue.

Because societal dimensions of SSI are a key focus of SSI-based teaching, and because research indicates that science teachers may struggle most with this component of SSI (Sadler et al., 2006), the relevant social aspects of the nutrition focal SSI were heavily featured in the SSI Teaching Module. An example of a nutrition lesson that emphasized societal dimensions of the focal SSI was one that incorporated an SSI Timeline activity (Foulk, Friedrichsen, & Sadler, 2020). In small groups, PSTs explored historically significant nutrition recommendations, summarizing their findings and posting them on a collaborative class timeline. Then the PSTs discussed their collective findings, comparing and contrasting nutrition recommendations through the years, and proposing significant historical events that may have impacted recommendations. Next, the small groups reconvened to research scientific, political, and economic events, which had been selected for their historical significance to nutritional health. PSTs summarized the impact of their assigned events, color coded according to the nature of impacts on historical nutritional recommendations. The result was a very engaged group of learner-participants, and a great deal of discussion about their new understandings of nutrition policy. Following the introduction of the issue and participation in this timeline activity, PSTs expressed an awareness that meaningful interpretation and assessment of commonly shared nutrition advice (e.g., “eat everything in moderation” or “avoid cholesterol and saturated fat”) depends on an understanding of scientific ideas about nutrition. Specifically, the PSTs recognized their need to be able to make sense of the structure and function of nutrition macromolecules and their significance in metabolic pathways. As learners, PSTs benefitted from this activity by identifying science concepts they needed to know in order to address the focal issue (See Figure 2 and Figure 3).

Figure 2 (Click on image to enlarge)

SSI Timeline Activity

Figure 3 (Click on image to enlarge)

SSI Timeline Categories of Societal Dimensions

SSI Teaching Module – Phase 2: Teaching Science with SSI

The second phase of the SSI Teaching Module allowed PSTs to reflect on their learner experiences with the SSI nutrition unit, from the perspective of teachers. After participating in selected portions of the SSI nutrition unit, the PSTs began the process of unpacking their experience and making sense of the teaching approach. They were first asked to inspect the SSI-TL framework, and then they received written copies of the SSI nutrition unit for comparison. In small groups PSTs discussed elements of the framework they were able to distinguish in the nutrition unit, as well as the purposes they saw for each activity they had identified. A whole class discussion of the unit resulted in a mapping of the unit to the SSI-TL framework (See Figure 4).

Figure 4 (Click on image to enlarge)
Unit Map

In another lesson during the second phase of the SSI Teaching Module, a whole class discussion of the philosophical assumptions of the SSI-TL framework helped PSTs to consider broader educational purposes of the approach (Zeidler, 2014a). The instructor again provided a copy of the framework and asked PSTs to consider ways it compared and contrasted to their experiences as learners of science, and their ideas about teaching science. During the discussion, “Travis” shared, “I would’ve eaten this up as a high school student, because I didn’t always like science classes. I think connecting science to real life is a great way to reach students who might not like science otherwise.” Conversely, “Dale” expressed his concerns about shaking up tried and true teaching methods in his subdiscipline, arguing that there are more beneficial ways to teach than forcing science learning into SSI: “Everything we teach at the high school level for physics was settled 200 years ago. Why should students spend time looking at news stories and history?” The group revisited these conversations about educational philosophy and socioscientific issues frequently.

Following a whole class discussion about the SSI-TL framework and nutrition unit as an exemplar, PSTs used the framework to collaboratively analyze examples of externally created SSI-focused curricula. Small groups identified components of SSI-based teaching such as the focal issue, opportunities to consider societal dimensions of the issue, and connections to relevant science ideas. (Friedrichsen et al., 2016; Schibuk, 2015; Zeidler & Kahn, 2014a, 2014b, 2014c). Finally, individual PSTs completed a structured analysis of these assigned SSI curricular units. This activity served to further help the PSTs in identifying key components of SSI-based science curricula, and to see varied ways that classroom activities, lessons, and units might be created to align with the approach. See the analysis rubric tool designed to support PSTs’ individual curricular analyses (See Figure 5).

Figure 5 (Click on image to enlarge)
Curriculum Analysis Rubric

SSI Teaching Module – Phase 3: Designing SSI Curricula

The third and final phase of the SSI Teaching Module focused on curricular design. Because curricular design was the primary goal of the Science Methods course, activities prior to the SSI Teaching Module had been designed to engage PSTs in utilizing NGSS and other educational standards, as well as in structuring and planning for meaningful learning activities in secondary science classrooms. This phase of the SSI Teaching Module was designed to build upon the PSTs’ prior experiences with elements of curriculum planning, and to integrate them with the activities of the previous phases of the module.

Over a series of lessons, in various formats, and with numerous feedback opportunities, the PSTs were supported in their development of a cohesive SSI-focused curricular unit designed around the SSI-TL framework, which served as the culminating course project. With regular instructor feedback, in both in-class collaborative settings and as out-of-class assignments, PSTs selected topics applicable to their science certification areas, brainstormed potential focal SSIs in which to contextualize their science units, and identified NGSS standards most relevant to their topics. In addition to feedback from both instructor comments and class discussions, PSTs used several resources intended as tools to guide their process, including the SSI-TL framework, written requirements for the SSI Curriculum Design task, access to the SSI nutrition unit from phase one of the SSI Teaching Module, and an electronic template in which to create their units (See Figure 6).

Figure 6 (Click on image to enlarge)
Curriculum Design Task Requirements

All activities in phase three of the SSI Teaching Module served to help PSTs draft detailed unit overviews consisting of a two- to three-week sequence of lessons with multiple detailed lesson plans, specifically focused on introducing the focal SSI, exploring societal dimensions of the issue, and activities for mastery of related science content ideas. Assessment of PSTs’ units was based upon a detailed scoring rubric collaboratively constructed with the PSTs during the third phase of the Teaching Module. Together the course instructor and PSTs used the Curriculum Design Task Requirements and the SSI-TL framework, as well as the Curriculum Analysis Rubric, to prioritize elements and characteristics of SSI units. Finished units were later assessed for alignment to the SSI-TL framework in terms of unit structure, principles of SSI, and general quality of activities and lessons. See the scoring rubric for the unit design task, below. Note also that NGSS-aligned lesson plan design was a requirement for the PSTs in a previous methods course and continued as an expectation throughout PSTs’ education program. Selected PSTs’ SSI unit design products are summarized (See Figure 7 and Table 2).

Figure 7 (Click on image to enlarge)
SSI Unit Design Task – Scoring Rubric

 

Table 2 (Click on image to enlarge)
Table of Selected PST Curricular Units

 

Discussion & Conclusion

In this project, we sought address the tension between K-12 science teachers’ favorable perceptions of SSI-based pedagogy and their simultaneous unlikelihood to utilize SSI in their science classrooms. Specifially, we designed and implemented an SSI Teaching Module intended to leverage the transformative potential of the curriculum design process, in an effort to address commonly cited barriers to SSI-based pedagogy enactment, including: unfamiliarity or discomfort with SSI-based teaching; lack of access to SSI curricular resources; and misalignment between teachers’ perceptions and the pedagogical philosophy of SSI. We observed several specific examples of favorable impacts for the PST participants in this experience.

First, PSTs expressed excitement about learning with SSI. In a whole class conversation following phase one of the teaching module, Adam described his positive experience as a learner of SSI. Referring specifically to the use of SSI and related societal dimensions in the learning experience, he commented, “I think as a [secondary] student I would’ve been, like, sucked in from the very first day of the nutrition unit.” Adam’s sentiment echoed the enthusiasm that Travis had clearly demonstrated during phase one of the SSI Teaching Module. Having previously spoken to the first author privately regarding his uncertainty about a career path in education, Travis exceeded task expectations during the learner phase of the project. In ways that were atypical for him, Travis assumed leadership responsibilities for his group, encouraging his peers to explore and make connections among science and societal dimensions of the issue they were studying. On one occasion, Travis stayed after class to make additional contributions to the collaborative activity from that day’s lesson, describing to the first author his own engagement during participation in the SSI nutrition unit in class. During a whole class discussion in phase two of the SSI Teaching Module, Travis spoke favorably of his firsthand experience with SSI and enthusiastically shared with his peers his perception of the potential for SSI to promote learner engagement, particularly for those students who, like himself, are likely to find traditional K-12 science coursework unenjoyable.

Second, PSTs expressed enthusiasm for teaching with SSI during phases two and three of the SSI Teaching Module. In class conversations about the SSI-TL framework as well as in written reflections about SSI unit design required with the Unit Design Task, multiple PSTs expressed enthusiasm for SSI and plans to use it, despite its challenges. For example, after designing his unit, “Cooper” wrote, “I found that creating this [SSI] unit about waves was challenging, but also sort of exciting, because it makes me think about how much I’m looking forward to being a teacher.” Similarly, during our whole class discussion about the philosophical underpinnings of SSI, Adam repeatedly expressed his perception of the value of teaching science with SSI. Adam’s SSI curricular unit design was exceptional for his thoughtful choice of issue and the complex connections he made among science ideas and societal dimensions related to the issue, and his comments throughout the learner experience indicated his consideration of the challenges and possible solutions to utilizing SSI in the classroom. During his third year of teaching, Adam reached out to the first author to describe his own use of SSI-based pedagogy and asked for help in supporting veteran teachers in his department to take up the approach. Adam expressed a highly favorable view of teaching with SSI, and the project seemed to prepare him to do so.

Finally, PSTs demonstrated success in designing coherent SSI-TL curricular resources. Consistent with our framework, we considered an SSI unit to be successfully designed if it met the criteria specified in the Curriculum Design Task and Scoring Rubric, by including essential elements and characteristics of SSI and by representing the intent of the approach. Regarding elements and characteristics of SSI and by representing the intent of the approach. Regarding elements and characteristics, a unit overview was required, with specific reference to the science topic and related standards from NGSS, a thorough explanation of pertinent science ideas, and the selected focal SSI in which the unit was contextualized. The overview would also include a brief timeline describing a coherent sequence of lessons related to the topic. In addition, units were to include detailed plans for three specific types of lesson: introduction of the focal issue, exploration of societal dimensions of the issue, and explicit sensemaking about science ideas. Finally, a successful unit would describe plans for assessment, including requirements for a culminating unit project in which learners would demonstrate understanding of science ideas and societal dimensions related to the issue. Throughout the unit design, the selected SSI would feature prominently, and activities would allow for students’ meaningful sensemaking about the science ideas and societal dimensions relevant to the issue.

With participation in the SSI Teaching Module, support from their instructor, and interactions with the learning community in their methods course, each of our participant PSTs satisfied the requirements of the unit design task and designed curricular units consistent with the SSI-TL framework. PSTs were able to identify learning standards relevant to their selected science topics, provide explanations of their topics, and contextualize science learning opportunities within authentic, real-world issues. In addition, PSTs were able to create broad, cohesive overviews of their units, as well as detailed plans for specific lessons. Most notable with regard to the emphasis on SSI, PSTs were able to select relevant, appropriate socioscientific issues for their topics, and to thoughtfully weave these issues into their unit designs. PSTs reflected about general struggles related to selecting focal issues or integrating science ideas and societal dimensions, and the experiences in the SSI Teaching module that they found especially helpful, such as small group discussions during the planning process, and peer feedback on the drafts of their units.

Consistent with current calls for science education reform, we know SSI offer valuable opportunities for student learning, and we believe SSI curriculum design to be a beneficial way to support teachers’ uptake of SSI-based teaching. Furthermore, we view teacher education to be an appropriate context to support pre-service and early career teachers’ in making sense of and adopting the approach. We share the design of SSI Teaching Module to support other teacher educators in innovating pre-service methods courses toward promoting PSTs’ uptake of SSI.

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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

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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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Palmer, D. H. (2002). Factors contributing to attitude exchange amongst preservice elementary teachers. Science Education, 86, 122-138.

Uludag, A. (2008). Elementary preservice teachers’ opinions about parental involvement in elementary children’s education. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24, 807-817.

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

References

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Service Learning for Science: A Transformative Field Experience for Preservice Elementary Teachers 

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Porter, J.M., & Lardy, C. (2020). Service learning for science: A transformative field experience for preservice elementary teachers. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/service-learning-for-science-a-transformative-field-experience-for-preservice-elementary-teachers/

by Jenna Porter, CSU Sacramento; & Corinne Lardy, CSU Sacramento

Abstract

Preservice teachers are often faced with tension between theory about effective science education and practice. Service learning is one method for helping bridge the disconnect in meaningful ways that are mutually beneficial for both preservice teachers and community partners. With the recent adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in most states, and the upcoming accountability testing for science, some elementary schools are beginning to shift toward more science instruction that supports students’ developing understanding of science concepts, as well as the practices in which scientists engage. This transition time provides an excellent opportunity to purposefully partner universities with elementary schools in an effort to support science education (for preservice teachers, inservice teachers, and elementary school students). We have redesigned our science methods course to integrate service learning to provide our preservice teachers with authentic experiences for teaching the effective pedagogical strategies and theories learned in the course. This paper describes the service learning component of our science methods course, which includes a unique field experience. It also illustrates evidence of the positive impact this service learning approach has had on our preservice teachers and community partners, and lessons learned through the process.

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References

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Introducing Preservice Science Teachers to Computer Science Concepts and Instruction Using Pseudocode

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Brauer, K., Kruse, J., & Lauer, D. (2020). Introducing preservice science teachers to computer science concepts and instruction using pseudocode. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/introducing-preservice-science-teachers-to-computer-science-concepts-and-instruction-using-pseudocode/

by Kayla Brauer, Drake University; Jerrid Kruse, Drake University; & David Lauer, Drake University

Abstract

Preservice science teachers are often asked to teach STEM content. While coding is one of the more popular aspects of the technology portion of STEM, many preservice science teachers are not prepared to authentically engage students in this content due to their lack of experience with coding. In an effort to remedy this situation, this article outlines an activity we developed to introduce preservice science teachers to computer science concepts such as pseudocode, looping, algorithms, conditional statements, problem decomposition, and debugging. The activity and discussion also support preservice teachers in developing pedagogical acumen for engaging K-12 students with computer science concepts. Examples of preservice science teachers’ work illustrate their engagement and struggles with the ideas and anecdotes provide insight into how the preservice science teachers practiced teaching computer science concepts with 6th grade science students. Explicit connections to the Next Generation Science Standards are made to illustrate how computer science lessons within a STEM course might be used to meet Engineering, Technology, and Application of Science standards within the NGSS.

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References

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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.

Innovations Journal articles, beyond each issue's featured article, are included with ASTE membership. If your membership is current please login at the upper right.

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References

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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

Akerson V.L., Carter I.S., Park Rogers, M.A. & Pongsanon, K. (2018). A video-based measure of preservice teachers’ abilities to predict elementary students’ scientific reasoning. International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology (IJEMST), 6(1), 79-92. DOI:10.18404/ijemst.328335

Ball, D.L., Thames, M.H., Phelps, G.C. (2008). Content knowledge for teaching: What makes it special? Journal of Teacher Education, 59, 389-407.

Carter, I. S., Park Rogers, M. A., Amador, J. M., Akerson, V. L., & Pongsanon, K. (2016). Utilizing an iterative research-based lesson study approach to support preservice teachers’ professional noticing.  Electronic Journal of Science Education, 20 (8). Retrieved from http://ejse.southwestern.edu/article/view/16434/10861

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Enacting Wonder-infused Pedagogy in an Elementary Science Methods Course

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Gilbert, A., & Byers, C.C. (2020). Enacting wonder-infused pedagogy in an elementary science methods course. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(1). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/enacting-wonder-infused-pedagogy-in-an-elementary-science-methods-course/

by Andrew Gilbert, George Mason University; & Christie C. Byers, George Mason University

Abstract

Future elementary teachers commonly experience a sense of disconnection and lack of confidence in teaching science, often related to their own negative experiences with school science. As a result, teacher educators are faced with the challenge of engaging future teachers in ways that build confidence and help them develop positive associations with science. In this article, we present wonder-infused pedagogy as a means to create positive pathways for future teachers to engage with both science content and teaching. We first articulate the theoretical foundations underpinning conceptions of wonder in relation to science education, and then move on to share specific practical activities designed to integrate elements of wonder into an elementary methods course. We envision wonder-infused pedagogy not as a disruptive force in standard science methods courses, but rather an effort to deepen inquiry and connect it to the emotive and imaginative selves of our students. The article closes with thorough descriptions of wonder related activities including wonder journaling and a wonder fair in order to illustrate the pedagogical possibilities of this approach. We provide student examples of these artifacts and exit tickets articulating student experiences within the course. We also consider possible challenges that teacher educators may encounter during this process and methods to address those possible hurdles. We found that the process involved in wonder-infused pedagogy provided possibilities for future teachers to reconnect and rekindle a joyful relationship with authentic science practice.

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References

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Introducing the NGSS in Preservice Teacher Education

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Hill, T., Davis, J., Presley, M., & Hanuscin, D. (2020). Introducing the NGSS in preservice teacher education. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 5(1). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/introducing-the-ngss-in-preservice-teacher-education/

by Tiffany Hill, Emporia State University; Jeni Davis, Salisbury University; Morgan Presley, Ozarks Technical Community College; & Deborah Hanuscin, Western Washington University

Abstract

While research has offered recommendations for supporting inservice teachers in learning to implement the NGSS, the literature provides fewer insights into supporting preservice teachers in this endeavor. In this article, we address this gap by sharing our collective wisdom generated through designing and implementing learning experiences in our methods courses. Through personal vignettes and sharing of instructional plans with the science teacher education community, we hope to contribute to the professional knowledge base and better understand what is both critical and possible for preservice teachers to learn about the NGSS.

Innovations Journal articles, beyond each issue's featured article, are included with ASTE membership. If your membership is current please login at the upper right.

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References

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