Preservice Teachers Facilitating a Discussion With Elementary Student Avatars Before Facilitating It With Real Students

by Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, Towson University; Karen Cimino, Towson University; & Julia Brandeberry, Towson University
Abstract

In this article, we share our innovation in which we used backward design to develop a scenario for use within the Mursion mixed-reality (MR) upper elementary simulated classroom environment to enable preservice teachers (PSTs) to practice facilitating an ambitious group discussion before facilitating that discussion to students in their field placement. The third-year elementary PSTs were enrolled in a course in which they taught a fourth-grade, NGSS-aligned unit that focused on the external and internal structures of sea turtles and how an injury to one or more of those structures could impact their growth, survival, behavior, or reproduction. To enhance the unit, we added a nonfiction text, Karl’s New Beak (Nargi & Popham, 2019), that examines the ramifications on survival, behavior, and reproduction faced by an Abyssinian ground hornbill missing most of his lower beak. At the end of the unit, each PST facilitated a discussion to elicit connections their students made between key ideas in the unit and text about how an injury to an animal impacts its survival, behavior, or reproduction. We share key elements of scenario design and how the PSTs prepared for, implemented, and debriefed from the MR simulated discussion. We also summarize and provide examples from the PSTs’ reflections on how the simulated experience prepared them to facilitate the same discussion with their small groups of fourth graders. For teacher educators who have access to the Mursion system, we provide our scenario and recommendations on how to begin utilizing this technology.

Redesigning a Science Teacher Preparation Program for Equity: Using Critical Whiteness Pedagogy to Educate Secondary Science Preservice Teachers

by Jonathan McCausland, New Mexico Highlands University; & Scott McDonald, Pennsylvania State University
Abstract

In this article, we describe the redesign of a secondary science teacher preparation program. The goal of the redesign was to help preservice teachers in the program become more justice-oriented science teachers. We describe the impetus for the redesign and how we went about redesigning the program through an iterative process of conjecture mapping (Sandoval, 2014), and we highlight important elements of the program. Ultimately, we argue that teacher preparation programs can draw upon practice-based teacher education and critical whiteness pedagogy to assist preservice teachers in becoming justice-oriented science teachers. By blending practice-based teacher education and critical whiteness pedagogy, preservice science teachers can practice being justice oriented, helping them become novice critical whiteness ambitious science teachers.

Chat-Based Role-Play for Preservice Teachers to Practice Eliciting Students’ Arguments

by Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, Towson University; Peter Rillero, Arizona State University; Cathy Liebars, The College of New Jersey; Adam Goldberg, Southern Connecticut State University; & Justin Reich, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abstract

In this article, we describe our implementation of an innovative approximation of practice in teacher education: chat-based role-play. In so doing, we share our collective experiences as teacher educators about how the preservice teachers (PSTs) across our four methods courses—two elementary science courses, one elementary mathematics course, and one middle school mathematics course—practiced eliciting students’ initial arguments about a matter investigation (for science) or a fractions or ratio problem (for mathematics). The chat-based role-play to which we refer involves a one-on-one, 7-minute-long, teacher–student typed chat in which the teacher aims to elicit the student’s claim and evidence-based reasoning (for science) or justification (for math). We used Eliciting Learner Knowledge (ELK; https://tsl.mit.edu/practice_space/eliciting-learner-knowledge/), a multiplayer option in the Teacher Moments online platform from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab that is free and available for public use, to support this role-playing experience; however, we also explain how other platforms (e.g., Google Docs) can achieve a similar effect. In this article, we describe (a) the affordances of typed chat-based role-play; (b) the ELK platform and elementary science chat as an example; (c) the ways in which we prepared PSTs for their chats, formatted their chat experiences, and asked them to reflect after the chats; (d) how our PSTs benefitted from preparing for, engaging in, and debriefing from these chats; (e) implementation challenges and associated suggestions; and (f) alternate ways of conducting typed chat-based role-play in methods courses. Content-specific examples throughout the article are from science.

Instructional Pathways to Considering Social Dimensions Within Socioscientific Issues

by Rebecca Rawson Lesnefsky, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill; Troy Sadler, University of North Carolina; Li Ke, University of Nevada-Reno; & Pat Friedrichsen, University of Missouri
Abstract

The Socioscientific Issues Teaching and Learning (SSI-TL) framework is a guide for developing an instructional approach to learning experiences focused on socioscientific issues (SSI). Despite the potential benefits of SSI learning, teachers often struggle to implement this approach in their classrooms (Sadler et al., 2006; Saunders & Rennie, 2013), and one of the most prominent reasons for this struggle is science teacher concerns and hesitation associated with incorporating social dimensions of the issues into their instruction (Friedrichsen et al., 2021). The purpose of this article is to provide science teacher educators with tools to help teachers better manage the integration of the social dimensions of SSI in issues-based teaching. In doing so, we suggest an expansion of the SSI-TL framework such that it more explicitly highlights pathways for focusing on the social dimensions of SSI within science learning environments. These pathways emerged as a result of a joint effort with nine high school science teachers as they developed a unit related to COVID-19; however, the pathways support science teachers as they implement science learning experiences that provide opportunities to negotiate social dimensions across most SSI. The pathways include systems mapping, connecting analysis to policy positions, media literacy, and social justice. We present how following each pathway integrates the social dimension of the focal issue, an example from the COVID-19 unit, evidence of success, and future considerations for science teacher educators as they help classroom teachers adopt an SSI approach.

Ditch the Debate: Preparing Preservice Teachers to Nurture Productive Discourse About Controversial Issues

by Eric A. Kirk, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; & Troy D. Sadler, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Abstract

This article showcases a lesson for preservice teachers designed to better prepare them in making instructional choices that support teaching and learning about complex socioscientific issues (SSI). Many of society’s most pressing social issues require the understanding and application of scientific knowledge. To do so, individuals must navigate not only the scientific dimensions of the issue, but also the moral considerations that arise from the application of scientific knowledge to these complex issues. We begin this article with a discussion of a framework for effective SSI-based teaching followed by a discussion of the unique challenges to teaching and learning that are posed by engaging students with complex, moral issues such as SSI. We then outline a lesson in which preservice teachers were exposed to two example SSI-based lessons. One lesson was designed to exacerbate challenges associated with engaging with morally fraught issues, whereas the other was designed to mitigate these challenges. Throughout this experience, students were encouraged to reflect on their experiences from their perspective as students and as developing teachers. This article concludes with recommendations for practitioners who may wish to implement this lesson, including suggestions for possible adaptations.

Preparing Preservice Teachers to Help Elementary Students Develop Persuasive Science Writing

by Keri-Anne Croce, Towson University; & Lucy Spence, University of South Carolina
Abstract

To inspire change in the world, scientists must be agile communicators who can persuade different audiences around the globe. Persuasive science writing must reflect an understanding of how culture and language influence audiences in different ways. Examples of scientific writing designed for different audiences around the globe include pamphlets describing safe masking practices or public-service announcements about climate change. Preservice teachers must prepare the next generations of scientists to think of science content in conjunction with communication. This has created a high demand for university programs to prepare preservice teachers to teach elementary students how to create persuasive science writing. The International Science Text Analysis Protocols (ISTAP) teaching methodology was designed to help preservice teachers guide elementary students to develop tools for creating persuasive science writing. This article details how university programs may use ISTAP to support preservice teachers before, during, and after school placements. As linguistic and cultural diversity within science classrooms in the United States continues to expand, students will bring diverse resources into conversations centering on persuasive science writing. As university faculty guide preservice teachers through ISTAP, they are emphasizing diversity within science classrooms and supporting equity within STEM.

From Pandemic Pivot to Community Outreach: Homeschool Students as Participants for Course-Based Field Placements

by Ronald S. Hermann, Towson University; & Maureen G. Honeychuck, Towson University
Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic resulted in a pivot to online instruction for our university and the surrounding K–12 schools. The instructors of the Classroom Interactions course faced the challenge of developing an online version of a course we had never taught that included a class-based field experience. During the fall semester, we struggled to recruit secondary students to participate in preservice teacher (PST) lessons, so we invited homeschool students to participate in the spring semester. This article outlines our approach to inviting homeschool students to participate in online PST-developed lessons. We outline our approach to utilizing the 5 Practices for Orchestrating Task-Based Discussions in Science (Cartier et al., 2013) to develop lessons, and we share PST and parent feedback on the experience. Additionally, we share the lessons we learned from this experience and suggestions for other teacher educators who may be interested in inviting homeschool students to participate in PST-developed field experiences. PSTs were able to focus on their lesson objective, instruction, and discourse moves for leading productive discussions because the PSTs and students did not experience many of the typical classroom distractions or behavioral issues that can occur during in-person learning in a school setting. Teacher educators interested in having more autonomy and input into how course-based field placements are implemented are encouraged to explore options to include homeschool students in-person or virtually.

Implementing a Mentoring Program for Beginning Secondary STEM Teachers: Conceptualization and Lessons Learned

by Lara Smetana, Loyola University Chicago; Krishna Millsapp, Loyola University Chicago; Megan Leider, Loyola University Chicago; & Mark Johnson
Abstract

The importance of attending to teachers’ transition from student to teacher (i.e., induction period) is increasingly recognized. This article describes efforts to develop, implement, and iteratively revise a mentoring program for beginning secondary science and mathematics teachers. We explain the conceptualization of the program in terms of four dimensions of teachers’ professional practice and varying mentoring approaches and formats. Examples of mentoring program components illustrate the program design. Lessons learned from the first 2 years are explored utilizing participant data as evidence. Plans for our program are discussed as well as implications for other teacher education programs.