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.

Building a Firm Foundation: Preparing Pre-K–4 Teachers for Integrative STEM Pedagogy

by Sharon A. Brusic, Millersville University of Pennsylvania; Nanette Marcum-Dietrich, Millersville University of Pennsylvania; Jennifer Shettel, Millersville University of Pennsylvania; & Janet White, Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Abstract

Preservice teachers in early childhood (pre-K–4) education teacher preparation programs typically experience content-specific pedagogy courses that operate in isolation from each other. In addition, preservice teachers are rarely given the opportunity to learn about integrative teaching in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). In this article, the authors describe how Millersville University of Pennsylvania, a midsized regional public university in the Mid-Atlantic Region, addressed this issue in their teacher preparation program by creating an integrative STEM (iSTEM) minor that provided preservice teachers with five additional courses that explored how to implement STEM in early childhood classrooms in developmentally appropriate ways with a design-based pedagogy. This article introduces the program, including the specific coursework that preservice teachers engage in as well as other programmatic features that contribute to the success of the minor in increasing the confidence and skill levels of future teachers in successful STEM integration techniques. Photographs and artifacts are included to provide readers with a clearer picture of the types of learning activities and assignments in which students engaged. The article concludes with qualitative comments from students who participated in this program.

Scaffolding Prospective Teachers’ Development of Noticing in Video-Based and Authentic Classroom Settings

by Lu Wang, Indiana University Kokomo
Abstract

As an important aspect of teacher expertise, noticing skills need to be learned and practiced in teacher education programs. Although noticing literature has reported on the effectiveness of videos with associated scaffolding structures and the significant role that practical experiences play in teachers’ development of noticing skills, research on ways to support prospective teachers’ noticing in both video-based and authentic classroom settings in the field of science education is scarce. Building on teacher noticing research and the critical incident framework, this article describes a model that engages a group of prospective elementary teachers in the practice of noticing first in a 2-week, online, video-based training module and then in dynamic and complex classrooms when they attend a practicum associated with a science methods course. Detailed descriptions of the model, prospective teachers’ learning outcomes, and thoughts and considerations for implementing the model are shared. Differences between prospective teachers’ noticing journal entries prior to the video-based training module and immediately after, along with their noticing patterns in the practicum classrooms, show the development of prospective teachers’ noticing skills during the semester. Factors that were found to impact prospective teachers’ noticing in video-based and authentic classroom settings include: (a) using the adapted critical incident framework as a scaffolding guideline, (b) providing continuous feedback on prospective teacher noticing journals, and (c) having opportunities to observe science instruction in practicum classrooms.

Supporting Preservice Elementary Teachers in Teaching Science for Equity and Justice: A Practical Framework

by Elizabeth A. Davis, University of Michigan
Abstract

Preservice elementary teachers bring many strengths to science teaching but may not get extensive support in learning to work toward equity and justice in their science teaching. Drawing on four approaches to equity from a recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2022), this article presents a practical framework for helping preservice elementary teachers in this challenging work. The article first explores each approach, suggesting interpretive frames and teaching moves that preservice teachers could use in moving from a relatively abstract call for equity to making concrete decisions in elementary science instruction. A practical framework is developed based on that exploration, with a description of how the framework has been used instructionally in an elementary science methods class. Then, the article presents the results of a pilot study of 31 preservice elementary teachers’ use of a pilot framework, illustrating how these participants’ lesson plans readily reflected teaching moves focused on increasing children’s opportunity and access to science learning and increasing achievement, representation, and identification but less often reflected moves oriented toward broadening what counts as science or bringing science and justice together. The article concludes by noting that research is needed to further explore the utility of this framework and how equity can be supported in science teacher education more generally. The article also urges the field to develop representations of practice and elementary science curriculum materials that would support teachers in this challenging, lifelong work to advance equity and justice.

Is This an Authentic Engineering Activity? Resources for Addressing the Nature of Engineering With Teachers

by Jacob Pleasants, University of Oklahoma
Abstract

Including engineering as part of K–12 science instruction has many potential benefits for students, but achieving those benefits depends on having classroom teachers who are well prepared to effectively implement engineering instruction. Science teacher educators, therefore, have an essential role to play in ensuring that engineering is incorporated into science instruction in productive ways. An important component of that work is developing teachers’ understanding of the nature of engineering: what engineering is, what engineers do, and how engineering is both related to yet separate from science. Teachers must understand these concepts to implement engineering design activities that authentically reflect the field. In this article, I describe a sequence of instructional activities designed to help teachers, either preservice or inservice, develop their knowledge of the nature of engineering. At the core of the instructional sequence is a set of stories that provide teachers with descriptions of authentic engineering work. Surrounding the stories are activities that help teachers draw accurate conclusions about the nature of engineering and draw out the implications of those conclusions for instructional decision-making. I provide an overview of the instructional sequence and also share details from my own work with teachers, including transcripts of classroom conversations and the impact of instruction on teachers’ knowledge.

The Periodic Tile Project: Exploring the Elements With Teacher Candidates Through Science and Art

by Franklin S. Allaire, University of Houston-Downtown
Abstract

Studies have shown that teacher candidates enrolled in teacher preparation programs, particularly those in early childhood and elementary certification tracks, do not feel comfortable with science content or feel confident in their ability to teach science effectively as they enter student teaching. The Periodic Tile Project is an interdisciplinary project and performance assessment that takes an essential component of the chemistry curriculum that is often treated as a static tool to be memorized and brings the dynamic facets of the elements to life through the integration of science and art. Integrating science and art in performance-based assessments has been shown to increase engagement, self-motivation, and sense of ownership and enhance expression and communication skills in K–12 students. It can provide the same benefits to science teacher candidates. This article describes the use of the Periodic Tile Project with teacher candidates to explore the elements in a fun, meaningful, and memorable way.

CURating Science Literacy and Professional Identity Among Biology and Science Education Majors

by Tonia A. Dousay, University of Idaho; Brant G. Miller, University of Idaho; & Christine E. Parent, University of Idaho
Abstract

In this article, we discuss a novel approach to course-based undergraduate research experiences (CURE) by exploring the impact of a near-peer configuration within three courses: the Elementary Science Education and Secondary Science Methods courses for education students and the Dimensions of Biodiversity course for students in the biological sciences. We were interested in understanding how students from education would benefit from partnering with students from the sciences and vice versa. We discuss our approach to designing and implementing the near-peer approach along with extended details regarding the process for research groups. We used a modified Undergraduate Research Student Self-Assessment (URSSA) to understand how science and science education majors influence one another in developing researcher identity, including scientific literacy and communication skills, after engaging in a near-peer structured CURE. Our results show that most science education students reported increased interest in conducting research in the future and some biology students reported an increased interest in teaching science. Logistical and interpersonal relationships were noted as the primary adverse challenges to implementation. Future programming and research efforts should expand to include other scientific disciplines and pay close attention to interpersonal dynamics, especially during the matchmaking phase.