Designing and using multimedia modules for teacher educators: Supporting teacher learning of scientific argumentation

Citation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Marco-Bujosa, L., Gonzalez-Howard, M., McNeill, K., & Loper, S. (2017). Designing and using multimedia modules for teacher educators: Supporting teacher learning of scientific argumentation. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(4).   Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/designing-and-using-multimedia-modules-for-teacher-educators-supporting-teacher-learning-of-scientific-argumentation/

by Lisa Marco-Bujosa, Boston College; Maria Gonzalez-Howard, University of Texas, Austin; Katherine McNeill, Boston College; & Suzanna Loper, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California-Berkeley

Abstract

In this article, we describe the design and use of multimedia modules to support teacher learning of the practice of scientific argumentation. We developed four multimedia modules, available online for use in professional development or preservice classes, incorporating research-based features designed to support teacher learning of argumentation. Specifically, the features underlying the design of the modules include: (1) providing images of practice, (2) problematizing instruction, (3) offering the student perspective, and 4) encouraging teacher reflection. Each module supports teacher educators in engaging teachers in learning about argumentation through activities utilizing these features. We describe the rationale for designing multimedia teacher learning modules that incorporate these features. We also describe how these features are incorporated into learning activities by focusing on one session from one module. We then illustrate the utility of these modules by providing one example of how these resources can assist teacher educators to support particular district goals around argumentation by adapting and modifying the modules. This article features the ways these online modules are an innovative support for teacher learning, by providing multimedia resources and the opportunity for increased user flexibility. Finally, we discuss some preliminary findings around teachers’ use of the features in these learning modules.

Introduction

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) represent a new vision for science teaching and learning, requiring teachers to blend disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts (Pruitt, 2014). The focus of the NGSS is on providing students with more authentic experiences in science, with an emphasis on students using their understanding of disciplinary core ideas to make sense of the natural world (Schwarz, Passmore, & Reiser, 2017). This represents a departure from traditional science instruction that focuses more on memorizing science knowledge and less on students engaging in science as a practice (Ford, 2015). However, the NGSS provide little guidance for teachers with respect to what these science practices should look like in science classrooms, or how teachers can design lessons to include them (Windschitl, Schwarz, & Passmore, 2014). Consequently, it can be difficult for teachers to incorporate science practices into their instruction.

In our work, we focus on one particular science practice, argumentation. A key aspect of argumentation is to promote student understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge and the culture of science (NRC, 2012), or science as knowledge and practice (Osborne, Erduran, & Simon, 2004). We conceptualize scientific argumentation as consisting of both a structural and dialogic component (McNeill, González-Howard, Katsh-Singer, & Loper, 2016). The structure of an argument consists of a claim about the natural world that is supported by both evidence and scientific reasoning (McNeill, Lizotte, Krajcik, & Marx, 2006). The dialogic component of argumentation emphasizes science as a social process in which students construct arguments through interactions with their classmates (Berland & Reiser, 2011). Although we describe structure and dialogic interactions as two different components of argumentation, they are often intertwined in classroom instruction. For instance, a student might critique the source of evidence a peer is using during a small group discussion.

Research has shown that scientific argumentation is difficult to implement in classrooms, particularly the dialogic component, which differs greatly from traditional, teacher directed, science instruction (Berland & Reiser, 2011). Studies around this science practice have shown that teachers’ argumentation instruction is influenced by their pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) and beliefs. PCK refers to professional knowledge specific to teaching and learning about a particular science concept (Shulman, 1986). Recent studies have highlighted the importance of PCK for the science practices, such as argumentation (e.g., McNeill, et al., 2016). Teacher beliefs about argumentation, and the value of argumentation, can also influence how teachers incorporate this practice into their instruction (Sampson & Blanchard, 2012).

In our previous work (McNeill, et al., 2016), we explored teachers’ beliefs around argumentation in three areas related to their classroom instruction: 1) students’ backgrounds, 2) learning goals and 3) self-efficacy. In terms of students’ backgrounds, some teachers believe argumentation is too hard for some students (Sampson & Blanchard, 2012) or that argumentation may create confusion and lead to student misconceptions about science concepts (Osborne et al., 2004). Research also indicates that teacher beliefs about student ability to engage in argumentation vary based upon factors such as the socioeconomic status of their students (Katsh-Singer, McNeill, & Loper, 2016). In addition, teachers’ understandings of argumentation, and their beliefs about how knowledge is created and used in the classroom, can influence the ways teachers plan for and teach argumentation activities in the classroom (McNeill, et al., 2016; Marco-Bujosa, McNeill, González-Howard, & Loper, 2017). These learning goals play an important role in teachers’ approach to argumentation instruction. For example, in a study of the impact of teachers’ beliefs on instruction of scientific argumentation, Zohar (2008) found teachers who believed that the goal of science instruction was to provide content knowledge only rarely engage students in activities requiring critical thinking, an essential aspect of scientific argumentation. Finally, teacher beliefs about themselves have been shown to influence their instruction (Bryan, 2012). For example, in prior work we found that teachers’ confidence in their ability to teach argumentation can influence their instruction (McNeill, et al., 2016). These kinds of beliefs may cause teachers to undermine the goals of argumentation by placing an instructional priority on transmitting knowledge.

Teachers need support to develop their PCK and beliefs about argumentation. To do so, teachers need to see the practices in action, and understand how they are different from traditional approaches to science instruction (Hanuscin, Arnone, & Bautista, 2016; Osborne, 2014). The challenge for teacher educators is that most science teachers, or prospective science teachers, received little support to develop knowledge of the science practices in their science education experiences or teacher preparation programs (Osborne, 2014). Consequently, teachers may be unfamiliar with the science practices, both as a science learner and as a teacher, and will need support to incorporate the practices into their science teaching. Additionally, research has shown that considering how teachers learn is important in supporting teachers to teach science practices (Allen & Penuel, 2015; Hanuscin, Arnone & Bautista, 2016) and argumentation in particular (Marco-Bujosa, et al., 2017). Thus, teacher learning experiences about the science practices, such as argumentation, may need to shift to better support teacher learning. This has implications for curriculum, learning structures, and strategies used in teacher preparation and professional development (Bybee, 2014; Hanuscin et al., 2016).

We developed multimedia modules about scientific argumentation to change teacher beliefs about argumentation in three ways that have been shown to support teacher instruction of this practice: beliefs about student abilities to engage in this scientific practice; beliefs about the importance of teaching argumentation (learning goals); and beliefs about their ability to teach argumentation (self-efficacy). In this paper, we focus on the features of the multimedia modules, which are designed to help teacher educators support teacher learning of scientific argumentation. In particular, these online modules were developed to incorporate the lessons emerging from research on supporting teachers to learn about the science practices. Specifically, four features provided the backbone of our module design approach: (1) providing images of practice, (2) problematizing instruction, (3) offering the student perspective, and 4) encouraging teacher reflection. These features are based upon research and best practices (e.g., van den Berg, Wallace & Pedretti, 2008; Zhang, Lundeberg, Koehler, & Eberhardt, 2011), as well as our personal experience working with teachers and teacher educators around argumentation. Additionally, creating these modules in an online platform offered an innovative means by which to support teacher learning through the use of multimedia supports. Furthermore, the online platform permits flexible use by teacher educators, specifically allowing for customization and adaptation to their needs, as well as the needs of the schools and teachers they serve. In the next section, we describe the context of our work – a research and development project around the practice of scientific argumentation – that provided the impetus for the development of these modules.

Context of our Work

​We developed the teacher learning modules as a part of The Argumentation Toolkit, (http://www.argumentationtoolkit.org/), an online collection of resources designed to help teachers understand and teach scientific argumentation, which we will refer to as “the toolkit” for the remainder of the article. The toolkit was developed as part of a research and development project to support middle school teachers in integrating argumentation into their science instruction. This project is a collaboration between the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley and Boston College.

In order to effectively teach argumentation, teachers need an understanding of this science practice and of instructional strategies to engage and support students. Thus, we developed the toolkit to support both teacher understanding of argumentation and to provide teachers with classroom strategies. The toolkit was developed around four elements of scientific argumentation that are particularly challenging for teachers and students. Two of these elements relate to the structural component of argumentation – 1) evidence, and 2) reasoning – while two correspond to the dialogic aspects of this science practice – 3) student interaction, and 4) competing claims (Figure 1).

Figure 1 (Click on image to enlarge). Argumentation elements.

In our work developing resources for teachers, we found that teacher educators also require resources and support to facilitate their professional development efforts around argumentation. We approached this need through the development of multimedia modules for scientific argumentation, which were added to the toolkit website to provide support for teacher educators using the toolkit resources. The following sections describe our design approach, specifically illustrating the utility of particular features in a multimedia format that guided our development of the modules. Additionally, we provide an illustration of the first author’s use of these multimedia learning modules during professional development for science teachers. This example is intended to highlight how the flexibility of these modules allows teacher educators to modify and adapt them to their own setting.

Module Design

We developed four multimedia teacher learning modules around scientific argumentation. The four modules consist of an introductory module, which introduces teachers to argumentation using the four common student challenges previously described, and three advanced modules, which provide teachers with additional depth and practice related to teaching argumentation. More information about these modules is provided in Table 1, and on the toolkit website under the “Teacher Learning” tab (http://www.argumentationtoolkit.org/teacher-learning.html). Each module consists of four sessions, which can be presented all at once in a 3 hour long session, or as individual, 45 minute sessions. Modules provide teachers with the opportunity to engage in a variety of argumentation activities, review student artifacts and student talk (e.g., writing and video), and design or revise their own argumentation lessons. Additional information about the design and organization of the modules is provided below in the section of this article entitled, “Using the Module.”

Table 1 (Click on image to enlarge)
Description of Teacher Learning Modules

Each module, and its corresponding sessions, was designed to incorporate four features intended to support teacher learning of the science practices: (1) providing images of practice, (2) problematizing instruction, (3) offering the student perspective, and 4) encouraging teacher reflection. Table 2 provides a summary and a description of how each feature is incorporated in the modules.

Table 2 (Click on image to enlarge)
Module Design Features to Support Teacher Learning

We next describe and illustrate each of these design features using examples from one session, the fourth session from the Introductory Module on Scientific Argumentation, entitled, “How do we support students in interacting with peers during argumentation?” (The agenda for this session is provided in the Appendix, and can also be accessed on the toolkit website.) This session was designed to help teachers develop an understanding of argumentation as a social process in which students question and critique claims using evidence and reasoning.

Design Features to Support Teacher Learning

Providing images of practice

To incorporate the first feature, providing images of practice, the modules make rich images of classroom enactment of science argumentation available to teachers. Images of practice serve as useful instructional models for teachers in preservice classes and professional development, particularly for those who are unfamiliar with the practice and lack context for how argumentation activities may differ from traditional science instruction (Reiser, 2013). In our learning modules, these images are incorporated through videos of teachers and students engaging in argumentation activities.

As compared to text-based supports, these videos provide teachers with real world examples of argumentation in science classrooms. The videos feature footage of real classrooms with teachers enacting a curriculum on argumentation with their students. The teachers in the videos were using a curriculum with a strong focus on scientific argumentation. This context was used with the hope that it would provide strong examples of what argumentation may look like in a classroom. Each video was created with a particular goal for teacher learning. For instance, while some videos provide an overview of the elements that are particularly challenging for teachers and their students, other videos highlight classroom activities and strategies to support engagement in argumentation. For each video, specific clips were selected to illustrate the particular goals of the video. Further, the videos are edited and have voice overs to emphasize particular goals, and teachers reflect on challenges and successes of implementing these activities in their classroom.

The fourth session begins with an activity “Video & Discussion.” This video supports the dialogic elements of argumentation, and is specifically focused on encouraging student interaction (Figure 2). The videos support teacher learning by providing an overview of the practice, a rationale for supporting student interaction in the science class, and footage of students in actual science classes critiquing each other’s ideas across different types of argumentation activities (e.g., pair feedback on written arguments). These videos also provide a vehicle for helping teachers see the interconnectedness of argument structure and dialogic interactions. For example, in this video, students draw upon evidence to convince their peers.

Figure 2 (Click on image to enlarge). Image of practice and problematizing instruction.

Problematizing instruction

The second feature, problematizing instruction, helps teachers recognize how their current instruction may be different from instruction authentically incorporating the science practices, such as argumentation (Osborne, 2014). As mentioned earlier, our four modules were explicitly designed to address four elements of argumentation that research has found to be particularly challenging for teachers and students (evidence, reasoning, student interactions, and competing claims) (McNeill et al., 2016). Across the four modules, each session title is a key question of practice related to an argumentation challenge, which serves as a guiding question for session activities. The question both identifies the argumentation focus for the session, and also encourages teachers to make connections between this science practice and their current instruction. For example, the fourth session in the Introductory Module is entitled, “How do we support students in interacting with peers during argumentation?” This question focuses on the challenge of student interactions, and all activities are around helping teachers provide support for student interactions in their science class.

Moreover, discussions following different activities in this session prompt teachers to consider challenges their students face. For example, in a discussion following the first activity, “Video & Discussion: Encouraging Student Interactions,” participants are asked: “What are the benefits to having students interact with peers during argumentation tasks?” Questions like these encourage teachers to consider the ways in which incorporating argumentation into their instruction supports student learning (Figure 2).

Offering the student perspective

Teachers are given the opportunity to engage in numerous argumentation activities during sessions from the student perspective. Research has shown it is important for teachers to develop knowledge of how students learn (Lee & Luft, 2008; Park & Oliver, 2008). One way to support teacher understanding of how students learn about argumentation is to have them engage in argumentation activities as a learner themselves. This feature addresses the lack of familiarity and experience many teachers have with argumentation, and allows them to understand the challenges students may encounter. For example, session four in the Introductory Module introduces teachers to the experience of student interactions by having teachers work in groups to collaboratively analyze data from three different studies related to a claim about metabolism (Figure 3). Teachers are encouraged to interact around evidence by asking each other questions, building off of one another’s ideas, critiquing each other’s claims, and persuading one another—all key dialogic aspects of argumentation. Following the activity, teachers are prompted to reflect on their experience of having engaged in this argumentation task as a student (“What did you talk about when you engaged in this task? How did interacting with others influence the argument you developed?”). Afterwards, they shift back to a teacher perspective to discuss instruction, particularly the supports they anticipate their students may need to productively interact with their peers in this argumentation activity (“What types of supports do you think your students might need to engage in this element of argumentation?”).

Figure 3 (Click on image to enlarge). Student perspective.

Encouraging teacher reflection 

The fourth feature we incorporated into the modules is encouraging teacher reflection. Research has shown that professional development supporting teachers’ PCK should provide teachers with opportunities to both enact instructional strategies and opportunities to reflect on those enactments, both individually and as a group (Van Driel & Barry, 2012). Thus, in each session, multiple opportunities for discussion among teachers are provided. Questions prompt teachers to reflect on their own instruction after different activities, such as after viewing a video or engaging in an argumentation task. In the example discussed earlier, numerous opportunities are provided for teachers to engage in sustained reflection on how to support student interactions in their science classroom. For instance, all sessions include an optional extension, which can be used to encourage teachers to further reflect on their argumentation instruction. Session four in the Introductory Module begins with a debriefing of an argumentation task teachers were asked to try with their students following session three. Teachers are encouraged to reflect on a lesson they developed addressing reasoning with their peers, specifically discussing what went well and what was challenging, as well as sharing student writing (Figure 4).

Figure 4 (Click on image to enlarge). Teacher reflection from extension discussion.

Teachers also engage in a reflective discussion following “Activity: Analyzing data with peers.” Specifically, they are prompted to consider, “What type of supports do you think your students might need to engage in this element of argumentation?” Additionally, in a culminating activity for the module, “Discussion: Connections between argumentation elements,” teachers make connections across all four argumentation elements introduced in the session, and consider the strengths of science instruction incorporating these elements, as well as any challenges students may encounter. Such a discussion is meant to support teachers in considering the needs of their students in planning for instruction.

As these examples from just one session illustrate, the four design features underlying this module (providing images of practice, problematizing instruction, encouraging teacher reflection, and offering the student perspective) are synergistic, working together to support teachers in developing their understanding of argumentation and how to incorporate it into their instruction. In particular, the videos (which offer teachers an image of practice) provide the teacher educator with a natural vehicle to facilitate teachers’ ability to engage in two other features, problematizing their instruction and reflecting on their practice. Moreover, although each session focuses on one particular challenge identified in the question framing the session (evidence, reasoning, student interaction, or competing claims), the other challenges are interwoven across different session activities. For example, the focal session described above addressed the challenge of supporting student interactions, but activities also incorporated the structural elements of argumentation, notably student use of evidence and reasoning.

Using the Module

Our experience leading professional development and working with other teacher educators guided our approach to the development of these modules. Though the modules were developed as self-contained units, the fact that these modules are provided online enable these resources to be flexibly used and easily customized.

The first author used the modules to prepare a professional development (PD) session about scientific argumentation for a school district. The district requested a PD session specifically focused on the structural elements of argumentation (i.e., how a claim is supported by evidence and reasoning). The district had a particular goal to better support student writing of science arguments, and requested a focus on reasoning, which they found had been an area of challenge for both teachers and students. Furthermore, because this PD request was designed to support a new district initiative that encompassed a goal for vertical alignment, the audience included teachers of science from grades 4-12 (most of whom were new to argumentation). As such, the goal of the PD was to introduce teachers to argumentation, and to begin the process of modifying instruction to incorporate more opportunities for authentic student argumentation.

Because no individual module aligned with the district’s request and goal of focusing solely on the structural components of argumentation (evidence and reasoning), I identified sessions across the four learning modules that provided a variety of activity types for teachers to learn about evidence and reasoning and consider implications for their instruction. (See the Teacher Learning tab on the toolkit website for more information: http://www.argumentationtoolkit.org/teacher-learning.html). Specifically, I used the first session and the third session from the Introductory Module (What is the role of evidence in a scientific argument? and What is the role of reasoning in a scientific argument?) to introduce teachers to evidence and reasoning. Then, to support teachers in identifying opportunities in their current curriculum and instruction to support student argumentation, I drew upon sessions from different advanced modules, specifically session 3 from the Advanced Module on Evidence and Reasoning (How can you support student use of reasoning in a scientific argument?) and session 1 from the Advanced Module, Designing Rich Argumentation Tasks (How can you design rich argumentation tasks to encourage student use of evidence and reasoning?). Even though the selected sessions and activities were designed to support teacher learning about argument structure, the videos included in these sessions also provided footage of students engaged in argumentation activities. Videos encouraged teachers to problematize their instruction and reflect on their practice to incorporate the dialogic components of argumentation, notably student interaction. For example, the video in the session introducing reasoning not only provides examples of classroom activities that can support student use of reasoning, such as group work, but also provides teachers with footage of students using reasoning in real classrooms engaged in argumentation activities. The discussion questions following this video (“How do the activities featured in the video encourage students to use reasoning?” and “What challenges do your students encounter using reasoning?”) encourage teachers to reflect on this practice and the implications for their own instruction.

As illustrated in this anecdote showing how the modules can be used, the online platform makes them flexible and easily modified to serve different purposes and audiences. For example, the modules are flexible with respect to time, since each module can be delivered as one 3 hour session, or four separate 45 minute sessions, depending upon the timing and format of the PD session. If presented as four separate sessions, optional “extension” activities are included to provide connections across session topics. Furthermore, though designed for a middle school audience, the sessions can be utilized with teachers across grades K-12, and even with a preservice audience. This flexibility is facilitated with references and supports around science content to enable teachers to engage in the argumentation activities regardless of their content knowledge.

Additionally, the modules can be used in any desired combination or order. They were designed to be presented as stand-alone learning experiences, or as a series, with an introductory module and several options for more advanced practice on argumentation. Or, as illustrated by the previous example, teacher educators can organize the learning experience based upon the needs and interests of their audience. Each session is cross referenced by the argumentation element (evidence, reasoning, student interactions, and competing claims) and by the argumentation activity focused on in the session (Figure 5) to facilitate teacher educators in customizing the learning experience.

Figure 5 (Click on image to enlarge). Argumentation element and activity.

Finally, each session can be viewed in one of two ways to allow teacher educators easy access to resources for planning and presenting. Specifically, each session can be displayed on the website as either 1) a scrollable lesson plan, which provides an outline of all activities, with links to session resources, or 2) as a slideshow, which includes any videos at the bottom of the page. Both views offer the same learning experiences to teachers. Additionally, an agenda is provided for each module, which includes tips for facilitators, and time estimates. This document can be edited, allowing facilitators to customize the lesson plan for their session.

Evidence of Success: Teacher Beliefs and Understanding of Argumentation

There is evidence that the types of supports included in our learning modules are desired by teachers and teacher educators who are interested in incorporating the scientific practice of argumentation into classroom teaching. This demand is evident in the number of hits the modules have received. Specifically, since we posted the first module in June 2016, we have had 10,508 unique page views for the teacher learning modules in just over six months (as of January 2017). The last module was posted in late December 2016.

Although we have not yet collected data from teachers who participated in PD using these modules, we can report data about changes in teacher beliefs about argumentation from a pilot of resources for teachers provided in the toolkit, including the videos featured in the teacher learning modules. We explored teacher beliefs about scientific argumentation through a survey consisting of 22 items measuring three aspects of teacher beliefs (self-efficacy, learning goals, and beliefs about student background and ability) after using a web-based teacher’s guide that included videos and other supports. Sample items and consistency ratings for these three scales are reported in Table 3.

Table 3 (Click on image to enlarge)

Teachers’ Beliefs About Scientific Argumentation

Overall, we found significant increases in teachers’ self-efficacy, their learning goals for their students, and beliefs related to student background and ability as a result of learning about argumentation using these supports (Table 4).

Table 4 (Click on image to enlarge)

Changes in Teachers’ Beliefs About Scientific Argumentation

Interviews with teachers about how they used these videos in preparing for instruction offered insights into how teachers interact with these features, resulting in instructional changes. In interviews following their instruction of a focus lesson on argumentation, teachers were asked to comment on how they used the resources to prepare their argumentation instruction. Several teachers commented on the benefits of the videos in helping them develop their own understanding of argumentation and of what it looks like in the classroom. One teacher described how the videos were helpful in providing a clear explanation of the structure of a scientific argument.

[I] watched the video… just to go over what a claim is, because I think I’ve had different definitions of it over, you know, different iterations, the definition over the past three years and these definitions seem very tight, and there’s not a lot of wiggle room with what it means, so that was my biggest concern, is talking about the evidence and talking about the process of making an argument.  

Another teacher found the videos to be particularly helpful in supporting her understanding of what argumentation looks like in a science classroom, and instructional strategies that can facilitate student engagement in the dialogic components of this science practice.

So I did watch the video, and it was more specific in terms of language than the previous ones I had looked at had been, so I did take the time to watch it a second time and freeze the screen and write down some of the questions because it was new language to me, and I just wanted to integrate it more and to, so that I would be able to reinforce it as I was talking to individuals. 

As such, the videos that we included in our teacher learning modules have shown promise in supporting changes in teachers’ beliefs about argumentation, as well as shifts in their instruction around this science practice. This suggests that the modules themselves may have promise to support changes in teachers’ beliefs.

Conclusion and Implications

Our work contributes to bridging the gap between teacher education and the classroom, specifically in helping teachers incorporate the science practice of argumentation into their science classes. Our modules provide teacher educators with a tool to better support teacher learning around argumentation in their professional development efforts. Specifically, in this paper we described the research-based features we incorporated in our design of the modules, and offered contextualized examples of what each of these features look like. Research on argumentation, and personal communication from teacher educators, reveal there is a need for these types of resources. Our teacher learning modules, freely available online, are both flexible and easy to access and use with a variety of teacher audiences, easily modified for particular instructional goals related to argumentation, and engage teachers in meaningful, reflective activities to support their understanding of argumentation.

 

Supplemental Files

Appendix.docx

References

References
Allen, C. D., & Penuel, W. R. (2015). Studying teachers’ sensemaking to investigate teachers’ responses to professional development focused on new standards. Journal of Teacher Education, 66, 136-149.

Berland, L. K., & Reiser, B. J. (2011). Classroom communities’ adaptations of the practice of scientific argumentation. Science Education, 95, 191 – 216.

Bryan, L. A. (2012). Research on science teacher beliefs. In B. J. Fraser, K. Tobin, & C. J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second international handbook of science education (Vol.1, pp. 477-495). Dordrecht: Springer.

Bybee, R. W. (2014). NGSS and the next generation of science teachers. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25, 211-221.

Ford, M. J. (2015). Educational implications of choosing “practice” to describe science in the next generation science standards. Science Education, 99, 1041-1048.

Hanuscin, Arnone, & Bautista (2016). Bridging the ‘Next Generation Gap’ – Teacher Educators Enacting the NGSS. Innovations in Science Education, 1(1).

Katsh‐Singer, R., McNeill, K. L., & Loper, S. (2016). Scientific argumentation for all? Comparing teacher beliefs about argumentation in high, mid, and low socioeconomic status schools. Science Education, 100, 410-436.

Kazemi, E., & Hubbard, A. (2008). New directions for the design and study of professional development attending to the coevolution of teachers’ participation across contexts. Journal of Teacher Education, 59, 428-441.

Lee, E., & Luft, J. (2008). Experienced secondary science teachers’ representation of pedagogical content knowledge. International Journal of Science Education, 30, 1343 – 1363.

Marco‐Bujosa, L. M., McNeill, K. L., González‐Howard, M., & Loper, S. (2017). An exploration of teacher learning from an educative reform‐oriented science curriculum: Case studies of teacher curriculum use. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 54, 141–168.

McNeill, K. L., González-Howard, M., Katsh-Singer, R. & Loper, S. (2016). Pedagogical content knowledge of argumentation: Using classroom contexts to assess high quality PCK rather than pseudoargumentation. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 53, 261-290.

McNeill, K. L., Lizotte, D. J., Krajcik, J., & Marx, R. W. (2006). Supporting students’ construction of scientific explanations by fading scaffolds in instructional materials. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 15, 153–191.

National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts and core ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Osborne, J., Erduran, S., & Simon, S. (2004). Enhancing the quality of argumentation in school science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41, 994 – 1020.

Osborne, J. (2014). Teaching scientific practices: Meeting the challenge of change. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 25, 177-196.

Park, S., & Oliver, S. (2008). Revisiting the conceptualisation of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK): PCK as a conceptual tool to understand teachers as professionals. Research in Science Education, 38, 261 – 284.

Reiser, B.J. (2013). What professional development strategies are needed for successful implementation of the next generation science standards? Invitational Research Symposium on Assessment, K-12 Center at ETS. Retrieved from: http://www.k12center.org/rsc/pdf/reiser.pdf

Sampson, V., & Blanchard, M. R. (2012). Science teachers and scientific argumentation: Trends in views and practice. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 49, 1122-1148.

Schwarz, C. V., Passmore, C., & Reiser, B. J. (2017). Moving beyond “knowing about” science to making sense of the world. In. C. V. Schwarz, C. Passmore, & B. J. Reiser (Eds.). Helping students make sense of the world using next generation science and engineering practices (3-21). Arlington,

VA: National Science Teachers Association.
Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational Researcher, 15(2), 4–14.

van den Berg, E., Wallace, J., & Pedretti, E. (2008). Multimedia cases, teacher education and teacher learning. In Voogt, J. & Knezek, G. (Eds.), International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education (pp. 475-487). New York, NY: Springer.

Van Driel, J. H., & Berry, A. (2012). Teacher professional development focusing on pedagogical content knowledge. Educational Researcher, 41(1), 26 – 28.

Windschitl, M., Schwarz, C., & Passmore, C. (2014). Supporting the implementation of the next generation science standards (NGSS) through research: Pre-service teacher education. Retrieved from: https://narst.org/ngsspapers/preservice.cfm

Zhang, M., Lundeberg, M.A., Koehler, M.J., & Eberhardt, J. (2011). Understanding affordances and challenges of three types of video for teacher professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 454-262.

Zohar, A. (2008). Science teacher education and professional development in argumentation. In S. Erduran & M. P. Jimenez-Aleixandre (Eds.), Argumentation in science education: Perspectives from classroom-based research (pp. 245–268). Dordrecht: Springer.

 

The Home Inquiry Project: Elementary Preservice Teachers’ Scientific Inquiry Journey

Citation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Kazempour, M. (2017). The home inquiry project: Elementary preservice teachers’ scientific inquiry journey. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(4). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/the-home-inquiry-project-elementary-preservice-teachers-scientific-inquiry-journey/

by Mahsa Kazempour, Penn State University (Berks Campus)

Abstract

This article discusses the Home Inquiry Project which is part of a science methods course for elementary preservice teachers. The aim of the Home Inquiry Project is to enhance elementary preservice teachers’ understanding of the scientific inquiry process and increase their confidence and motivation in incorporating scientific inquiry into learning experiences they plan for their future students. The project immerses preservice teachers in the process of scientific inquiry and provides them with an opportunity to learn about and utilize scientific practices such as making observations, asking questions, predicting, communicating evidence, and so forth. Preservice teachers completing this project perceive their experiences favorably, recognize the importance of understanding the process of science, and reflect on the application of this experience to their future classroom science instruction. This project has immense implications for the preparation of a scientifically literate and motivated teacher population who will be responsible for cultivating a scientifically literate student population with a positive attitude and confidence in science.

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.

Become a member or renew your membership

References

Adams, A., Miller, B., Saul, M., Pegg, J. (2014). Supporting elementary preservice teachers to teach STEM through place-based teaching and learning experiences. Electronic Journal of Science Education, 18(5). Retrieved from http://ejse.southwestern.edu/issue/view/1119

Appleton, K. (2006). Science pedagogical content knowledge and elementary school teachers. In K. Appleton (Ed.), Elementary science teacher education: International perspectives on contemporary issues and practice (pp. 31–54). Mahwah, NJ: Association for Science Teachers and Laurence Erlbaum.

Avery, L., & Meyer, D. (2012). Teaching science as science is practiced: Opportunities and limits for enhancing preservice elementary teachers’ self-efficacy for science and science teaching. School Science and Mathematics, 112, 395–409.

Banilower, E. R., Smith, P. S., Weiss, I. R., Malzahn, K. A., Campbell, K. M., & Weis, M. (2013). Report of the 2012 national survey of science and mathematics education. Chapel Hill, NC: Horizon Research, Inc.

Barman, C. (1997). Students’ views of scientists and science. Science & Children, 35(1), 18-23

Chichekian, T., Shore, B., & Yates, G. (2016). Preservice and practicing teachers’ self-efficacy for inquiry-based instruction. Cogent Education, 3(1). Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/2331186X.2016.1236872?scroll=top&needAccess=true

Driver, R., Leach, J., Millar, R., & Scott, P. (1996). Young people’s images of science. Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Fulp, S. L. (2002). The 2000 national survey of science and mathematics education: Status of elementary school science teaching. Chapel Hill, NC: Horizon Research.

Hechter, R. P. (2011). Changes in pre-service elementary teachers’ personal science teaching efficacy and science teaching outcome expectancies: The influence of context. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 22, 187–202.

Kazempour, M. (2013). The interrelationship of science experiences, beliefs, attitudes, and self-efficacy: A case study of a pre-service teacher with positive science attitude and high science teaching self-efficacy. European Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 1(1), 106-124.

Kazempour, M. (2014). I can’t teach science! A case study of an elementary pre-service teacher’s intersection of science experiences, beliefs, attitude, and self-efficacy.” International Journal of Environmental and Science Education, 9(1), p.77-96.

Kazempour, M., Sadler, T. D. (2015). Pre-service teachers’ science beliefs, attitudes, and self-efficacy: A multi-case study.” Teaching Education, 26, 247-271.

Keys, P. & Watters, J. J. (2006). Transforming pre-service teacher knowledge in science education through multimedia and ICT. Proceedings annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), San Francicso, CA.

King, K., Shumow, L., & Lietz, S. (2001). Science education in an urban elementary school: Case studies of teacher beliefs and classroom practices. Science Education, 85, 89–110.

Lewis, E., Dema, O., & Harshbarger, D. (2014). Preparation for practice: elementary preservice teachers learning and using scientific classroom discourse community instructional strategies. School Science and Mathematics, 114, 154-165.

Morrell, P. D., & Carroll, J. B. (2003). An extended examination of preservice elementary teachers’ science teaching self-efficacy. School Science and Mathematics, 103, 246–251.

Mulholland, J., & Wallace, J. (2000). Beginning elementary science teaching: Entryways to different worlds. Research in Science Education, 30, 151– 171.

NGSS Lead States. 2013. Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC; National Academies Press.

National Research Council (NRC). 2007. Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K–8. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

National Research Council (NRC). 2012. A Framework for K–12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). 2002. NSTA position statement: Elementary school science. Retrieved from http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/elementary.aspx

National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). 2002. NSTA position statement: Early childhood school science. Retrieved from http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/earlychildhood.aspx

Plevyak, L. (2007). What do preservice teachers learn in an inquiry-based science methods course? Journal of Elementary Science Education, 19(1). doi:10.1007/BF03173650

Quita, I. (2003, Fall). What is a scientist? Perspectives of teachers of color. Multicultural Education, 11, 29–31.

Tosun, T. (2000). The beliefs of pre-service elementary teachers toward science and science teaching. School Science and Mathematics, 100, 374–379.

Windschitl, M. (2004). Caught in the cycle of reproducing folk theories of “inquiry”: How preservice teachers continue the discourse and practices of an atheoretical scientific method.    Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 41, 481–512.

A Lesson to Unlock Preservice Science Teachers’ Expert Reading Strategies

Citation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Mawyer, K.K.N. & Johnson, H. J. (2017). A lesson to unlock preservice science teachers’ expert reading strategies. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(3). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/a-lesson-to-unlock-preservice-science-teachers-expert-reading-strategies/

by Kirsten K.N. Mawyer, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa; & Heather J. Johnson, Vanderbilt University

Abstract

New standards for K-12 science education task science teacher educators with providing preservice teachers strong preparation that will help them to embrace their role as teachers of science literacy (National Research Council, 2012). Even though there is a growing trend for teacher preparation programs to offer literacy courses that focus on reading in the content areas, often they do not provide aspiring science teachers the science-specific tools needed to teach reading in secondary science contexts. This article addresses the question, “How can we, as science teacher educators, prepare our teacher candidates to teach reading in the context of science?” We designed an initial literacy lesson to help preservice teachers enrolled in two science methods courses to unpack their content knowledge about literacy in science. Our hope was that by unlocking their personal strategies they would be better positioned for engaging in conversations about literacy. We found that using this initial literacy lesson provided our preservice teachers with a solid foundation for engaging in conversations about how to scaffold student reading. This lesson also provided preservice teachers an opportunity to collaboratively develop a common beginner’s repertoire of reading strategies that we subsequently used as a building block for designing activities and lessons that engage middle and high school students in big science ideas and understanding real-world phenomena through reading a variety of kinds of science texts.

Introduction

According to literacy researchers, different disciplines demonstrate both social and cognitive practices that embody distinct ways group members use reading and writing within their discipline (Buehl, 2011; Goldman & Bisanz, 2002; Heller & Greenleaf, 2007). The Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012), Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) and Common Core State Standards (Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010) all specify that literacy—the ability to read in the context of science—is an essential scientific practice. These recent national reform documents emphasize that by the time students graduate from high school they should be able to analyze, evaluate, and synthesize information from scientific texts (Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010; NGSS Lead States, 2013; National Research Council, 2012). Thus, it comes as no surprise that science teachers must incorporate literacy into their curriculum and instruction. In the wake of these reforms, the expectation that students will have more opportunities to engage with scientific texts is now firmly in place. However, this vision of ‘literacy for all students’ (Carnegie Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy, 2010) can only be achieved to the extent secondary science teachers are able or inclined to meet this goal (Cohen & Ball, 1990).

In response to this call for literacy, experienced secondary science teachers we talked to expressed that they feel they “have a responsibility to work on literacy” but do not know how to go about teaching and incorporating reading in their instruction. Unfortunately, the majority of otherwise competent or even expert teachers do not have the knowledge or training to teach literacy skills required to engage students with science texts (Norris & Phillips, 2003; National Research Council, 2012). Secondary science teachers are largely unprepared because their teacher preparation programs included little or no coursework focused on literacy. Even though there is a growing trend for teacher preparation programs to offer literacy courses that focus on reading in the content areas, often they still do not provide aspiring science teachers the science-specific tools needed to teach reading in secondary science contexts. One inservice teacher we spoke with commented that while she had taken a literacy course in graduate school it “really didn’t help me at all because it was too general and disconnected from the kind of reading you have to do in science.” Her sense that strategies introduced in her graduate school preservice coursework were too generic is not surprising given that science texts require content specific approaches and an understanding about how to read and engage with various disciplinary-specific genres (Carnegie Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy, 2010; Lee & Spratley, 2010). This raises the question, “How can we, as science teacher educators, prepare our teacher candidates to teach reading in the context of science?”

Instead of depending on general content area courses designed for preservice teachers regardless of discipline or specialty, science teacher educators need to design lessons for secondary science methods courses that target how to teach reading as an integral and integrated component of 6th-12th grade science curricula. Fortunately, preservice science teachers are not walking into science methods classes as blank slates. They enter with extensive science content expertise and are generally proficient or advanced readers of scientific texts. The challenge for science teacher educators is that even though preservice secondary teachers know how to read and make meaning of texts within their discipline, it is difficult for individuals to leverage well-developed personal strategies for reading a variety of science texts in their planning and instruction to support struggling readers (Carnegie Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy, 2010; Norris & Phillips, 2003). If reading is to play a more prominent role in secondary science, preservice teachers need help in making tacit knowledge about how to read common genres of science texts, such as popular science texts, textbooks, and primary scientific literature, explicit so they can use this knowledge as a foundation for learning how to teach middle school and high school students to read and make sense of science texts.

Context & Framing

The context for this study was a one semester secondary science methods course we taught at our respective institutions to a mix of undergraduate, post-baccalaureate, and masters students. We co-designed and taught a sequence of seminar sessions on how to use literacy activities, specifically reading different genres of science texts, to meaningfully help students learn science. This paper describes the first session in the sequence. We framed the design of the lesson using Ball & Bass’s (2000) notion of decompression. This is the perspective that as individuals learn to teach they need to unpack, and make visible the connections between the integral whole of their content knowledge so that it is accessible to develop pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1986) In this particular case the knowledge and skills necessary to use literacy strategies to teach reading in the context of science (Figure 1). Why is unpacking preservice teachers content knowledge about science reading strategies important? Unless one’s content expertise is the study of reading, the act of reading can seem or intuitively be thought “a simple process” in which “text can seem transparent” (Norris & Phillips, 2003, p. 226). Helping preservice teachers identify their existing “expert” knowledge of how to read science texts—and preparing them to design lessons that productively incorporate literacy activities into their science instruction—is foundational for developing strategies to teach middle school and high school students how to read science texts.

Figure 1 (Click on image to enlarge). As preservice secondary science teachers decompress their content knowledge about literacy and their personal reading strategies they develop PCK for teaching reading in science.

 

 

Lesson Design

In order to unpack preservice teachers’ genre specific strategies, we designed a structured introductory literacy activity that would:

● Help preservice teachers identify existing personal reading strategies for reading science texts
● Compare personal reading strategies with other preservice teachers
● Identify general and science genre specific reading strategies
● Engage preservice teachers in a dialogue about text features of different genres of science texts
● Brainstorm ideas about when and why teachers would want to use different genres of science texts in instruction
● Provide a foundation for designing lesson plans that include literacy activities that support ambitious science teaching practices—eliciting student ideas, supporting ongoing changes in student thinking, and pressing for evidence-based explanations (Windschitl, Thompson, Braaten, & Stroupe, 2012).

Specifically, we asked our preservice teachers to read three common genres of science texts—a newspaper article (popular science text), a science textbook (science text for education), and a scientific journal article (primary scientific literature)—that a science teacher might have their students read in class (Goldman & Bisanz, 2002). Relatively short texts about the same content—global climate change—were purposefully selected. Each student was given a packet of the readings that they were welcome to write on. We instructed preservice teachers to read each article with the goal of making sense of the text. They were given 10 minutes to read each text. How they spent this time, including what order they read the different texts, was left up to them.

After reading all of the texts, we made the preservice teachers aware of our purpose. We did not seek to assess them on their understanding of the content within each text. Instead, we wanted to make visible the strategies they used to read each type of text. Before we debriefed as a group, we asked each preservice teacher to respond in writing to the following questions for each genre of text:

● What did you do as you read the text?
● How did you make sense of the text?
● How did you interact with the text?
● Why did you approach the text in this way?

Asking preservice teachers to notice strategies encouraged them to make visible the latent expert knowledge they use to analyze the texts (Sherin, Jacobs, & Philipp, 2011). After students individually responded to the prompts on how they read each of the three texts, we split them into small groups of 3-4 to identify and record the reading strategies used to make sense of each text type. This activity was followed by a whole class discussion about reading order, reading strategies, and patterns in reading approaches across the three genres of science text: a newspaper article, a science textbook, and a journal article. Our preservice teachers’ discussion and written reflections revealed that they did indeed have both general and subject specific approaches to reading different kinds of science texts.

Reading the Newspaper Article

Popular texts, such as newspapers, magazines, online sites, trade books, and longer nonfiction science texts, take complex scientific information and phenomena and simplify it for the public—generally for the purpose of raising awareness and increasing understanding of important issues that are relevant to and impact citizens’ everyday lives (Goldman & Bisanz, 2002). The newspaper article our preservice teachers read introduced international efforts to draft a world climate policy to limit global warming to 2oC by drastically cutting down on fossil fuel emissions to head off the negative impacts, such as rising sea-levels, of global warming (Gillis, 2014).

The discussion kicked off with one preservice teacher noting that the “writing was very straightforward” so it was not necessary to take notes as compared to engagement with the textbook or journal article. Another echoed this sentiment commenting that she read it like a story with a “main thread…which I grasped and everything else revolved around”. Several made remarks that were consistent with the objective of this text genre such as, “I wasn’t really ever exposed to the 2o C global climate change goals before so I felt I had to keep ready to gain more insight as to what it is and why it is important” and “science is controversial—one group may agree and another group may disagree”.

It was clear from the discussion that preservice teachers had a deep, established, and readily accessible understanding of the structure and purpose of a scientific newspaper article and that these pre-existing orientations to this genre shaped how they read the text (Figure 2). Strategies our preservice teachers used to read the newspaper article included:

● Using the title to identify who/what/when
● Using the first sentence to identify the tone
● Identifying the writer’s position and identifying bias
● Identifying stakeholders and different opinions with respect to the issue
● Evaluating the credibility of the source
● Identifying evidence, notably by locating quotations from scientists
● Skimming for the main idea and ignoring the “fluff”

Figure 2 (Click on image to enlarge). Preservice teachers’ strategies for reading newspaper articles.

Reading the Textbook

Science textbooks, the mainstay of secondary science, are expository which means they are written to inform, describe, explain or define patterns, and to help students construct meanings about science information (Goldman & Bisanz, 2002). Even though the objective of textbooks is to scaffold student learning, students often find them difficult reading because of content density, complex text structures, domain specific vocabulary, multimodal representations, lack of relevance to students’ lives and prior knowledge (Lee & Spratley, 2010). The textbook reading on global climate change detailed specific consequences of global warming including warmer temperatures, more severe weather events, melting ice and snow, rising sea levels, and human health (Edelson et al., 2005).

As preservice teachers reflected on and discussed how they read the science textbook we observed a high degree of commonality across the approaches utilized. Most notably, conversation centered on text features that organize information in the text. For example, one preservice teacher shared that he “figured that a textbook would give the big ideas in the title and probably within the first couple of lines of the section so this helped me to get to the point faster, it helped me understand with less reading”. Similarly another said “I first flipped through the text [and] read all of the headings and subheadings” upon which other students elaborated that “the headings and subheadings are great clues as to what the text is talking about” and that headings and subheadings helped to “identify the main idea of each section”.

As with the newspaper article, the discussion of the textbook reading revealed that our preservice teachers have well developed strategies for reading science textbooks. Their strategies included:

● Reading the title to identify the focus of the entire reading
● Reading headings and subheadings to determine the main idea of each section
● Asking how the section relates to the title
● Asking how each section is connected to the sections before and after
● Reading for the main idea
● Reading first/last sentences of each paragraph
● Making a distinction between main idea(s) and evidence
● Skimming for unfamiliar science words, bolded vocabulary and associated definitions

Reading the Journal Article

Goldman and Bisanz (2002) point to the research report, such as a journal article, as the primary text genre used by scientists. Research reports are of particular interest because they are vehicles through which scientists present a scientific argument for consumption, evaluation, and response by their peers. Publication, circulation, evaluation, and response serves as a mechanism for providing information about research, making claims, and generating new scientific knowledge. According to Phillips & Norris (2009) journal articles present arguments about the need for conducting research, enduring or emerging methodology, analysis and provisions against alternative explanations—all in the service of supporting interpretation of authors’ findings. Generally, these types of texts are infrequently used in the science classroom. The journal article we asked our preservice teachers to read presented an index for when temperature will increase beyond historic levels yielding worldwide shifts in climate (Mora et al., 2013).

Preservice teachers agreed that of the three texts the journal article was hands down the most difficult to read and understand. Even though they struggled with this article they had no trouble articulating how they read this text. As with the other two text types, preservice teachers used specific text features of journal articles to scaffold their reading. One shared that she “usually start[s] with the abstract of a journal article because it tends to give some sort of summary of the whole article.” Another built on this by saying that the “abstract is a good summary of key points.” In addition to the abstract, preservice teachers focused on reading the “intro and conclusion because they highlight scientist’s argument and claims,” as well as on “tables and figures because they provide evidence visually.” There was also widespread agreement with one preservice teacher that if the goal is to understand the article, it was fine to “skim the methods [because]…taking the time to read the methods portion would not provide me with the important information to understand the context.”

The discussion of the journal article reading uncovered that our preservice teachers have well developed strategies for reading scientific texts. Their strategies included:

● Reading abstract, introduction and conclusion for summary of argument and primary findings
● Reading discussion for explanation of findings
● Looking at graphs, tables and figures for evidence supporting claim
● Skipping or skimming methods
● Asking do I understand what this article is about
● Reflecting on whether I can tell someone what this article is about

Reading Across the Science Texts

We noticed that in addition to the genre specific strategies outlined above, preservice teachers talked about how—as they read with the goal of making sense of the texts—almost all indicated that they annotated the text in some fashion. When we collected and analyzed preservice teachers’ annotated texts, we observed that they had underlined, highlighted, and jotted down questions or comments directly on the text. When they reflected on their textual reading practices, they indicated that they marked-up the text because they planned to re-read the texts and that annotating and highlighting specific features (headings, main ideas, or writing questions), would facilitate their future re-skimming of the texts and allow them to focus on only re-reading the most relevant sections or re-engaging with the most salient information in the article (Mawyer & Johnson, 2017). It seems that preservice teachers engaged in a meta-dialogue with the text that would allow for the most effective and efficient interaction with the text to maximize understanding.

Preservice Teachers’ Ideas for Scaffolding Literacy

After students discussed the various texts and worked together to identify patterns and commonalities in how they read the three texts, we asked them to talk about implications of their personal strategies for reading different types of science texts for their own teaching. One of the preservice teachers commented that going into the activity she did not really think that she had any specific strategies for reading science texts and “felt uncomfortable and overwhelmed about the prospect of teaching literacy” and that the activity helped her to see that she “had more experience with literacy” than she originally thought. We noticed that in both of our classes the literacy activity our preservice secondary teachers engaged in and their subsequent small group discussions allowed them to think deeply about how to concretely support literacy. They were able to work together to develop ideas about how they could build on the reading strategies they identified in our class to design their own lessons and curriculum in order to integrate literacy activities into their teaching practice. Specifically we observed students leveraging their personal strategies into supports that could be helpful to students before, during, and after they directly interact with the text (Table 1).

Table 1 (Click on image to enlarge)
Preservice Teachers’ Ideas for Scaffolding Literacy for Different Types of Science Texts

Formal lesson plans and classroom observations revealed that after this literacy lesson our preservice teachers began incorporating these three genres of science texts into their science instruction and put the strategies and supports they identified into practice. For example, one student adapted a journal article to make it easier for her students to read. She structured reading by giving her students the following instructions:

“You will mark the text, highlight words you do not know or feel that are important, write in the side columns thoughts/responses/ideas, and form a thesis summary. To form a thesis means to make a conclusive statement (claim) on what you read. You will support this claim by providing 3-5 key details.”

The observation that our preservice teachers started using science texts after this literacy session, suggested they had more confidence in engaging their own students with literacy activities in the science classroom.

Implications for Science Teacher Educators

The Framework specifies that preservice science teacher education needs to be aligned with the scientific practices. Furthermore, it tasks science teacher educators with providing preservice teachers strong preparation that will help them to embrace their role as teachers of science literacy (National Research Council, 2012). In response to this call we designed this initial literacy lesson to help preservice teachers enrolled in our science methods courses to unpack their content knowledge about literacy in science with the hope that by unlocking their personal strategies they would be better positioned for engaging in conversations about literacy. In the words of one preservice teacher this activity helped him realize that his reading strategies were “so intuitive that they were tacit” and that previously he never “consciously thought about the text and how I approach reading”.

Challenges in implementation

As noted earlier one challenge that arose during this lesson was that our preservice teachers struggled with reading the journal article. Often journal articles are quite lengthy so we purposefully selected the shortest article we could find about global climate change in the hope that they would be able to read it in its entirety in the allotted 10 minutes. As the lesson unfolded we realized that this particular article was exceptionally dense conceptually and included a large number of visual representations.

Suggestions for future implementation

As we tweak this lesson for future use we plan to select another article that is more typical of scientific journal articles. That said, the very rich conversation that we had around the difficulties surrounding reading this particular article led to productive lines of inquiry in subsequent literacy sessions. In particular, we used it as a jumping off point for talking about adapting primary literature (Philips & Norris, 2009) to make scientific journal articles accessible to middle and high school students. We also realized that we needed to include explicit instruction around scaffolding reading visual representations such as tables, graphs, and diagrams. Another modification that we are considering is assigning the three readings and written responses to the four prompts as homework. This would allow preservice teachers to read each text at their own pace and take away the artificial constraint of a time limit.

Conclusion

This lesson highlights that preservice teachers’ actual familiarity with reading strategies and content specific literacy expertise is different from their initial self-perception that they know very little about literacy. The combination of genre specific and general reading strategies our preservice teachers used demonstrated that they use visual and symbolic cues in the text in combination with prior knowledge to construct new meaning from the text by utilizing comprehension strategies as they read. The fact that preservice teachers have these highly developed metacognitive strategies to pinpoint important ideas, make inferences, ask questions, utilize text structure, and monitor comprehension while reading highlights a high level expertise (Gomez & Gomez, 2006; Pearson, Roehler, Dole & Duffy, 1992; Yore, 1991, 2004; Yore & Shymansky, 1991).

We found that using this initial literacy lesson provided our preservice teachers with a solid foundation for engaging in conversations about how to scaffold student reading. This lesson provided preservice teachers an opportunity to collaboratively develop a common beginner’s repertoire of reading strategies that we subsequently used as a building block for designing activities and lessons that engage middle and high school students in big science ideas and understanding real-world phenomena through reading a variety of kinds of science texts. Also, compared to previous years, we noticed that how these preservice teachers were able to design and scaffold reading with their students was objectively more sophisticated and would allow students to engage with the science in more meaningful ways.

References

Ball, D. L., & Bass, H. (2000). Interweaving content and pedagogy in teaching and learning to teach: Knowing and using mathematics. Multiple perspectives on the teaching and learning of mathematics, 83-104.

Ball, D. L., Thames, M. H. & Phelps, G. (2008). Content knowledge for teaching: What makes it special? Journal of Teacher Education, 59 (5), 389-407.

Buehl, D. (2011). Developing readers in the academic disciplines. International Reading Assoc..

Carnegie Council on Advancing Adolescent Literacy. (2010). Time to act: An agenda for advancing adolescent literacy for college and career success.

Cohen, D. K., & Ball, D. L. (1990). Relations between policy and practice: A commentary. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 12(3), 249–256.

Council of Chief State School Officers (2010). The Common Core State Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical subjects

Edelson, D. C. (Ed.). (2005). Predicted Effects. Investigations in environmental science: A case-based approach to the study of environmental systems. (pp. 440-443).

Gillis, J. (2014). 3.6 Degrees of Uncertainty. The New York Times. Retrieved from http://nyti.ms/1zXo0Gd

Goldman, S.R. & Bisanz, G. L. (2002). Toward a functional analysis of scientific genres: Implications for understanding and learning processes. In (Eds.) Jose Otero, Jose Leon, and Arthur Graesser The Psychology of science text comprehension. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: New Jersey. pp.19-50.

Gomez, L., & Gomez, K. (2006). Reading for learning: Literacy supports for 21st century work. Phi Delta Kappan.

Heller, R., & Greenleaf, C. L. (2007). Literacy instruction in the content areas: Getting to the core of middle and high school improvement. Alliance for Excellent Education.

Lee, C & Spratley, A. (2010). Reading in the disciplines: The challenges of adolescent literacy.

Mawyer, K. K. N. & Johnson, H. J. (2017, May 1). Decompressing Preservice Science Teachers’ Reading Strategies. Paper presented at the 2017 annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Retrieved from the AERA Online Paper Repository.

Mora, C., Frazier, A. G., Longman, R. J., Dacks, R. S., Walton, M. M., Tong, E. J., & Giambelluca, T. W. (2013). The projected timing of climate departure from recent variability. Nature, 502(7470), 183-187.

National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. National Academies Press.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English language arts and literacy in history/social studies, science, and technical subjects. Washington, DC: Authors.

NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Norris, S. P. & Phillips, L. M. (2003) How literacy in its fundamental sense is central to scientific literacy. Science Education. 87:224-240.

Pearson, P. D., Roehler, L. R., Dole, J. A., & Duffy, G. G. (1992). What Research Has to Say about Reading Instruction. Developing expertise in reading comprehension, 154-169

Phillips, L. M., & Norris, S. P. (2009). Bridging the gap between the language of science and the language of school science through the use of adapted primary literature. Research in Science Education, 39(3), 313-319.

Sherin, M. G., Jacobs, V. R., & Philipp, R. A. (2011). Mathematics teacher noticing: Seeing through teachers’ eyes. Routledge: New York, NY.

Shulman, L. S. (1986). Those who understand: Knowledge growth in teaching. Educational researcher, 15(2), 4-14.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., Braaten, M., & Stroupe, D. (2012). Proposing a core set of instructional practices and tools for teachers of science. Science education, 96(5), 878-903.

Yore, L. D. (1991). Secondary science teachers’ attitudes toward and beliefs about science reading and science textbooks. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 28(1), 55-72.

Yore, L. D. (2004). Why do future scientists need to study the language arts. Crossing borders in literacy and science instruction: Perspectives on theory and practice, 71-94.

Yore, L. D., & Shymansky, J. A. (1991). Reading in science: Developing an operational conception to guide instruction. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 2(2), 29-36.

 

Why is the Good Stuff at the Bottom of the Cooler? An Inquiry about Inquiry for Preservice Secondary Science Teachers

Citation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Burgin, S.R. (2017). Why is the good stuff at the bottom of the cooler? An inquiry about inquiry for preservice secondary science teachers. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, (2)3. Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/why-is-the-good-stuff-at-the-bottom-of-the-cooler-an-inquiry-about-inquiry-for-preservice-secondary-science-teachers/

by Stephen R. Burgin, University of Arkansas

Abstract

The following article describes a lesson that was originally implemented in a high school chemistry classroom for the purpose of teaching students about density and was subsequently revised in order to teach preservice science teachers about inquiry and the practices of science. Lesson plans turned in after the experience revealed that preservice teachers demonstrated an understanding of the importance of allowing students to engage in the practices of science in order to construct their own meanings of natural phenomenon prior to being provided with an expected result. Practical examples of how science investigations can be modified for the purposes of science teacher preparation are included.

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.

Become a member or renew your membership

References

Bell, R. L., Smetana, L., & Binns, I. (2005). Simplifying inquiry instruction. The Science Teacher, 72(7), 30-33.

Herrick, R. S., Nestor, L. P., & Benedetto, D. A. (1999). Using data pooling to measure the density of sodas: An introductory discovery experiment. Journal of Chemical Education, 76, 1411.

National Research Council (NRC). (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards: A guide for teaching and learning. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

National Research Council (NRC). (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington DC: National Academies Press.

 

A College – Science Center Partnership for Science Teacher Preparation

Citation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Steinberg, R. & Saxman, L. (2017). A college-science center partnership for science teacher preparation. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(3). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/a-college-science-center-partnership-for-science-teacher-preparation/

by Richard Steinberg, City College of New York; & Laura Saxman, CUNY Graduate Center

Abstract

This partnership between a college and a science center addresses the need to improve the recruitment and preparation of science teachers in an urban setting. We describe the integrated teacher preparation model where undergraduate science majors simultaneously participate in the City College of New York science teacher preparation program and serve as interns on the museum floor at the New York Hall of Science. We report on how graduates of our program are prepared to teach science and how they performed in the classroom. We found that the program was successful at recruiting students from the communities in which they intend to teach and successful at preparing them to teach inquiry-based science.

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.

Become a member or renew your membership

References

American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1990). Project 2061: Science for all Americans. New York: Oxford University Press.

Anderson, D., Lawson, B., & Mayer‐Smith, J. (2006). Investigating the impact of a practicum experience in an aquarium on pre‐service teachers. Teaching Education, 17, 341-353.

Arons, A. B. (1976). Cultivating the capacity for formal reasoning: Objectives and procedures in an introductory physical science course. American Journal of Physics, 44, 834.

Berry, B., Montgomery, D., & Snyder, J. (2008). Urban teacher residency models and institutes of higher education: Implications for teacher preparation. Center for Teaching Quality. Retrieved from http://www.teachingquality.org/sites/default/files/UTR_IHE.pdf

Bevan, B., & Dillon, J. (2010). Broadening views of learning: Developing educators for the 21st century through an international research partnership at the exploratorium and King’s College London. The New Educator, 6, 167-180.

Bybee, R. W. (1997). Achieving scientific literacy: From purposes to practices. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Educational Testing Service. (2005). The Praxis study companion: Principles of learning and teaching: Grades 7-12. Retrieved from http://www.ets.org/s/praxis/pdf/0624.pdf

Ericsson, K. A. (2008). Deliberate practice and acquisition of expert performance: a general overview. Academic emergency medicine: official journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, 15, 988-994.

Grossman, P., & McDonald, M. (2008). Back to the future: Directions for research in teaching and teacher education. American Educational Research Journal, 45, 184-205.

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

Lee, O., Buxton, C., Lewis, S., & LeRoy, K. (2006). Science inquiry and student diversity: Enhanced abilities and continuing difficulties after an instructional intervention. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43, 607-636.

Martin, M. O., Mullis, I. V. S., Gonzalez, E. J., & Chrostowski, S. J. (2004). TIMSS 2003 international science report: Findings from IEA’s trends in international mathematics and science study at the eighth and fourth grades. Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College.

Miele, E., Shanley, D., & Steiner, R. V. (2010). Online Teacher Education: A Formal-Informal Partnership Between Brooklyn College and the American Museum of Natural History. The New Educator, 6, 247-264.

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. (2010). Transforming teacher education through clinical practice: A national strategy to prepare effective teachers. Retrieved from http://www.ncate.org/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=zzeiB1OoqPk%3D&tabid=715

National Research Council. (2000a). Educating teachers of science, mathematics, and technology: New practices for a new millennium. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.

National Research Council. (2000b). How people learn: brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.

National Research Council. (2009). Learning science in informal environments: People, places and pursuits. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.

National Research Council. (2010a). Rising above the gathering storm, revisited: Rapidly approaching category 5. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.

National Research Council. (2010b). Preparing teachers: Building evidence for sound policy. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.

National Research Council. (2011). Expanding underrepresented minority participation. Washington, DC: National Academic Press.

National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academic Press.

Newmann, F. M., Secada, W. G., & Wehlage, G. G. (1995). A guide to authentic instruction and assessment: Vision, standards and scoring. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Center for Education Research.

Papay, J., West, M., Fullerton, J., & Kane, T. (2011). Does practice-based teacher preparation increase student achievement? Early evidence from the

Boston Teacher Residency (Working Paper 17646). Retrieved from: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17646.pdf?new_window=1

Picciano, A. G., & Steiner, R. V. (2008). Bringing the Real World of Science to Children: A Partnership of the American Museum of Natural History and the City University of New York. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 12, 69-84.

Riedinger, K., Marbach-Ad, G., McGinnis, J. R., & Hestness, E. (2011). Transforming elementary science teacher education by bridging formal and informal science education in an innovative science methods course. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 20, 51-64.

Steinberg, R. N. (2011). An inquiry into science education, where the rubber meets the road. Rotterdam, Netherlands: Sense Publishing.

Stewart, F. & Sliter, R. (2005). Cracking the Praxis. New York, NY: Princeton Review Publishing.

 

You Learning Cycled Us! Teaching the Learning Cycle Through the Learning Cycle

Citation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hick, S.R. (2017). You learning cycled us! Teaching the learning cycle through the learning cycle. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/you-learning-cycled-us-teaching-the-learning-cycle-through-the-learning-cycle/

by Sarah R. Hick, Hamline University

Abstract

Frustrated by how much difficulty my preservice secondary science teachers were having understanding the essence of the learning cycle and crafting learning cycle lessons, I changed both the language of the learning cycle and the way I taught it.  Using ConceptDiscovery,” Concept Clarification, and Concept Application (DCA) as the names of the stages, I began to teach the learning cycle through a learning cycle.  In my series of lessons to help them build understanding of the DCA learning cycle, I first have students analyze vignettes of learning cycle lessons in order to “discover” the critical elements of each stage.  To “clarify” the concept of the DCA cycle, I spend several class sessions leading model lessons and engaging my pre-service teachers in discussions about each stage.  To help them “apply” their understanding to teaching, I scaffold them through writing their own learning cycle lesson with help from a categorization scheme I developed for types of discovery learning experiences.  Finally, in a short additional learning cycle, I have my pre-service students compare and contrast this model with others learning cycle models as a way to become knowledgeable about the history of the learning cycle and competent in the dominant discourse around it.

Introduction

When I started teaching high school biology, I figured out early on that my students were motivated by puzzles.  I made it my challenge, then, to devise lessons in which the learning experiences were structured as puzzles for my students to solve.  My early attempts included the extremely popular—though cognitively questionable—“Word-Scramble Treasure Hunts.”  In teams, students answered fill-in-the-blank questions from the text, then rearranged the circled letters of each answer to reveal the location of their next set of questions.  The treasure hunts—and the bag of donut holes for the winning team—were a huge hit with lecture-weary students.  For me, though, the logistics of the seven separate treasure hunt paths on seven different colors of paper for five different periods was overwhelming.  Plus, I had to be honest: it was simply a worksheet cut into strips.  Surely, I could do better.

Over my next few years teaching, the clues of my puzzles shifted from being words to being data.  I developed a habit of beginning instruction on a new topic by providing students with a puzzle in the form of an experimental question or a set of data—numbers, graphs, images, observations—that they collected or that I provided to them.  Their challenge was to analyze the data and draw a conclusion.  The conclusion they drew was—by my design—the concept that I wanted them to learn that day.

When I began taking courses in my doctoral program, I learned that what I was doing with my students was, in the main, a form of constructivist and inquiry teaching.  More specifically, this approach (and the learning experiences that followed) closely paralleled what was known in the field as a learning cycle.  Briefly, a basic learning cycle involves students 1) beginning their learning about a concept usually through a hands-on investigation of a phenomenon or materials; 2) getting a clearer understanding of the concept through a variety of instructional approaches including additional labs, readings, lecture, videos, demonstrations, and others; and 3) applying the learning in a new context (e.g., Bybee, 1997; Bybee, Taylor, Gardner, Van Scotter, Powell, Westbrook, & Landes, 2006; Bybee, Powell, & Trowbridge, 2007; Karplus & Thier, 1967; Lawson, Abraham, & Renner, 1989).

As I looked to move from my career as a high school science teacher to the one ahead as a science teacher educator, I was thrilled to learn that what I had been doing had a name, theory, research (e.g., Bybee et al., 2006; National Research Council 2006), and even curriculum behind it.  Because my own teaching had become so much more powerful for my high school students—and so much more enjoyable for me—I was driven to teach the learning cycle to the new science teacher candidates so that they could use it to support learning and thinking in their own classrooms.  I was pleased that I would have more legitimacy behind my aspirations for my pre-service teachers’ instructional designs than simply, “Hey, this really worked for me and my students!”  The published and researched versions of the learning cycle were so well developed, so well articulated, and so integrated into the world of science education, that I felt that helping new teachers learn to plan using that model would be fairly easy—certainly easier than the fumbling around that I had done for a few years.

Naming Rights—or Naming Wrongs?

I was caught entirely by surprise, then, when the preservice science teachers whom I mentored and supervised in my doctoral program struggled so much to learn and adopt the learning cycle in their planning.  What seemed to be such a straightforward concept to me perplexed and befuddled them.  For all the time they spent learning and writing using the Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate (5E) model (e.g., Bybee 1997, 2002, 2006; Bybee et al. 2007)—two four-credit secondary science methods courses over two terms—they struggled enormously to write lesson plans using the model.

A troublesome aspect of the 5E model seemed—ironically—to be the clever, alliterative 5E naming system itself: the preservice secondary science teachers struggled to remember what each of the Es of the 5E model stood for.  Worse, tripping up over what the Es stood for made them lose track completely of the overarching idea of the progression of thinking and learning that make up the pedagogical foundation of the learning cycle.   The typical response to being asked about the 5E Learning Cycle was a variation on a theme: “The five Es?  Um, I think explore, and expand, . . . explain, and . . . and . . . oh yeah, evaluate, and . . . shoot.  How many is that?”  The few students who could come up with all five names could not name them in order.  It seemed that while “5E” was catchy, the real meat of the learning cycle was not.  The students were—I really cannot resist this—missing the forest for the Es.

When I graduated from my doctoral program and began teaching science methods courses myself, I tried both the 5E model because of its power, presence, and ubiquity in science education and the three-part Exploration, Term/Concept Introduction, Concept Application model (Karplus, 1979; Karplus & Butts, 1977; Karplus & Thier, 1967; Lawson et al., 1989) because of its simplicity, permanence, and historical importance.  But the Explore/Exploration name in both models was too loose for my students.  What did it mean to “explore”?  “Exploration” could be a lot of interesting but aimless wandering.  My students could come up with all sorts of cool hands-on “explorations”—opportunities for students to put their hands on materials and play around with them—but to what end?  That was the problem with “exploring;” there was no promise or expectation that one would actually find anything.

The implication set by the words “exploration” and “explore” was setting the bar too low for both teacher and students.  With the publication of both A Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (NGSS Lead States, 2013), the importance of using planning schema that emphasize scientific and engineering practices—especially, in this step, making hypotheses, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, constructing explanations, and engaging in argument from evidence (NRC, 2012)—cannot be underestimated. Bybee et al. (2006) articulated about the Explore stage that, as “a result of their mental and physical involvement in the activity, the students establish relationships, observe patterns, identify variables” (p. 9). The language of “exploration,” however, allows the novice teacher-planner to underestimate the possibility for real conceptual learning and for engagement in scientific practices.

Re-Branding the Stages

Based on the difficulties with the stage names that I saw my preservice science students experiencing, I devised a new naming system to use as I introduced the learning cycle to them. I stuck with the original core three stages—or, put another way, I lopped off the first and last of the 5Es that had been added to the older models (Bybee et al., 2006).  My reasoning for the lopping was not that engagement and assessment (“evaluation” in the 5E) were in some way insignificant; to the contrary, I lopped them out of the learning cycle because they are critical components that should frame—and be seamlessly woven throughout—all lesson plans, not just those using a learning cycle approach.  Our licensure program uses a lesson plan template that requires our preservice teachers to articulate their assessment plans (prior knowledge, formative, and future summative) as well as their plans to motivationally, physically, and cognitively engage their students in the learning.  Because of that requirement, and because of the months that we have already spent in class building skills in engaging students and designing assessments, including the “Engage” and “Evaluate” portions of the learning cycle were unnecessary—and, in fact, a bit awkward—in instruction about the learning cycle as a distinct approach to teaching and learning.

For the first stage, I decided on the name Concept Discovery.  In this stage, students are provided with a phenomenon, a structured or guided inquiry lab opportunity (Bell, Smetana, & Binns, 2005), or a set of data to examine.  Often, they are provided an investigable question for which they propose a hypothesis, then design and carry out a test of that hypothesis.  Using inductive reasoning, they examine the data and draw a conclusion—often the noticing of a pattern, relationship, or cause and effect—which they then justify with evidence and share out with peers.  As they work, the teacher supports learning by watching, listening, asking probing questions, and providing scaffolding as needed.

I am intentional about using the word “Concept” in the name: I want it to be exceptionally clear to the teacher-planners that students are discovering a particular concept in this stage; they are not simply being tossed into a murky sea of data or materials with the hope that they may discover something.  The quotation marks are also intentional. The “Discovery” going on is akin to Columbus “discovering” America: students are not really discovering anything new to the world, they are discovering something new to themselvesToo, the discovery is contrived: they are participating in a learning experience specifically engineered to allow them—through the processes of interpreting data and making and defending claims (and, quite often, brainstorming variables, making predictions, designing tests, and engaging in scientific debate)—to come to the intended meaning.

The second step I named Concept Clarification.  The focus in this step is the teacher making sure that, regardless of—but built through discussion of—individual or group findings, the whole class comes to a common understanding of the main idea arising from the discovery experience.  The teacher makes sure that appropriate terms are introduced and defined, preferably with definitions crafted as a class based on their experiences of the concept during the Concept Discovery stage.  The teacher also uses discussion, notes, video clips, images, modeling, readings, additional laboratory experiences, and other instructional strategies to help students refine the understanding they built in the Concept Discovery stage.

The third step I left intact as Concept Application, the step in which students apply their new learning—often in conjunction with their understanding of previous concepts—in order to solve a new problem.

The naming and structure of the Concept Discovery, Concept Clarification, Concept Application (DCA) learning cycle is intended to help my preservice secondary science teachers plan single lessons or multi-day instructional sequences that allow their students to discover one concept, achieve clarity on that same concept, and then apply it to a new situation before moving on to learn the next concept.

Practicing What I Teach

The naming systems were, of course, not the only thing—and likely not the major thing—holding back mastery of the learning cycle.  I realized as I began to teach science methods courses myself that the very thing that had made learning science so difficult for me in high school—traditional instruction that started with terms, notes, and readings—was keeping the preservice science teachers from learning the learning cycle.  If leading with new terminology and following with notes and examples did not work for teaching meiosis or the rock cycle, why would it work for teaching the learning cycle?  I realized that if I wanted my own preservice teachers to learn to teach using the learning cycle, I would need to help them learn it through a learning cycle.  Over the past decade, then, I have worked to develop and refine a way of helping preservice teachers master the learning cycle in a way that honors the pedagogy of the approach itself.

I begin my lessons on the learning cycle with an assessment of prior knowledge that also serves to pique my preservice students’ interest.  I ask my students to write out or diagram what they regard to be a good general structure for the teaching of their content, be it life science, chemistry, or physics.  I have my students share their representations with their content-area partners to see if they find any similarities.  With little variation, they include lecture and lab—always in that order—as central to science teaching.  I then let them know that we will be learning a lesson structure called the “learning cycle” over the next several class periods.  In my efforts to model good instructional technique, I post the following objectives on the board:

  • Name and describe the stages of a learning cycle;
  • Create an instructional sequence using the learning cycle.

Concept Discovery

To begin the Concept Discovery stage for my students to learn the DCA learning cycle, I pass out vignettes of four lessons, one each for class sessions in Language Arts, World Language, Mathematics, and Health (see Appendix A for these vignettes).  I use examples from non-science classes because I want my students to focus on the type of thinking and tasks happening, not on the content or if they think there is a “better” way to teach that content.  Each vignette is divided into three short paragraphs, each paragraph describing what the teacher and students are doing in that stage of the learning cycle.  Importantly, I do not label the names of the stages at this point as that would undermine my preservice students’ opportunity to “discover” the heart of each stage.

I ask my students to read through the vignettes—the “data,” though I do not call it that—first without making any notes.  Then, I ask them to read through them looking at just the first stage in all four, then just the second stage, then just the third stage.  I then ask them to make notes about what the students and the teachers are doing in each stage and try to come up with a name for each stage.  Once they have completed that individual work, I put my students into groups of three to four to share out their ideas.  I spend my time roaming the room, informally checking in on their ideas as they talk and write.

Concept Clarification

Once my student groups are ready to share out, I put a chart on the board with “Stage 1,” “Stage 2,” and “Stage 3” down the left side and “Teacher does” and “Students does” on the top.  I ask them to tell me which stage they feel most confident about and want to start with (it is always the third stage).  I get them to fill in the boxes in the chart for that row and suggest a name (it is almost always “application,” lending support to the appropriateness of this name).  We then move on to the other rows and do the same.  Once we have the table filled in and I have circled the things they contributed that are central to the learning cycle and not simply to good teaching (for example, “students looking for patterns” is central to the first stage of the learning cycle but “students working as individuals and then small groups” is not), I unveil my “real” names for the stages and we craft short definitions of each from what we have recorded on the board (Figure 1).

Figure 1 (Click on image to enlarge). Sample chart on board.

I then have students read a handout I wrote that summarizes each stage of the DCA learning cycle (see Appendix B).  For the next several class sessions, I model learning cycle lessons in science for them, with them as my mock middle and high school students.  The examples I use (see Appendix C for summaries of the example lessons) involve an array of concepts (both declarative and procedural) from life science, chemistry, and physics; contain Concept Discovery experiences that use a wide variety of data types, data-gathering techniques, and data analysis approaches; and vary tremendously in the length and complexity of both Concept Clarification and Concept Application activities.  My goal in using such a broad range of experiences is to help my methods students see a) that learning cycles can be used in all areas science, and b) that while the type of student cognitive work in each stage is consistent across different topics, there is great diversity in the types of learning tasks, instructional strategies, and assessment practices that a learning cycle can employ.

After each model lesson that I lead, I ask students to first write individually and then discuss with their partner where each stage began and ended in that lesson.  Though I have shown for the reader how the three parts of each lesson are broken up, I do not reveal those transitions to my students while I am leading the lessons.  I want them to have to puzzle through the boundaries of the stages as part of their cognitive work in learning the stages.

After informally keeping track of student ideas as they work, I lead a discussion of their perceptions and my intentions about the boundaries of the stages. I also help them see the fuzziness of those boundaries in transition: Is group share-out part of Concept Discovery or Concept Clarification?  Is practice part of Concept Clarification or Concept Application?  I remind my students that relative order of learning experiences is what is paramount, not how we divide up the sometimes fuzzy borders.

After the wrap-up discussion of the last lesson, I ask them to reflect on how I had helped them learn about the learning cycle: What did I have you do first? Then what did I have you do?  Very quickly, someone cries out, “You learning cycled us!”  I ask them why they think I “learning cycled” them instead of having them learn it in a different way.  Someone is always quick to suggest—correctly—that I must think that using a learning cycle is the best way to help people learn something new.

Concept Application

I then ask my preservice teachers what stage we haven’t done yet (Concept Application) and what an effective application for the concept of the learning cycle might be.  They gulp when they realize that, of course, I’ll be asking them to create a learning cycle lesson.  I start their work on learning to write learning cycle lessons by assigning students concepts in their discipline and asking them to brainstorm things they might include in a DCA learning cycle lesson that would help students learn that concept.  While I observe and scaffold with prompts as needed, students combine into groups to create and share a DCA lesson on their assigned topic.

Students then are asked to plan one learning cycle lesson on their own as part of a larger summative assessment for the course—a unit plan that they research and build over the term.  I ask them first to submit to me—for points—the objective(s) for the lesson as well as a rough description (a few sentences) of their plan for each stage of the learning cycle.  If the idea is viable, I allow them to move forward with their planning.  If the idea is confusing or not viable, I ask them to resubmit it as many times as necessary.  If they are unable to make a workable plan, I point them in a workable direction for the lesson with the understanding that they will not get credit for the draft.  I then have the students lead the Concept Discovery portion of their lesson, and other stages if time allows, either in their clinical placement or with their peers in our class.  They gather feedback from the students, reflect on what they learned from their experience teaching, and use that information to write the final draft of their lesson (see example student lesson plans in Appendices E and F).  The learning cycle aspect of the lesson plan is then evaluated using a brief scoring guide that evaluates the degree to which each stage achieves its goal:

  1. Concept Discovery section is appropriately designed so that students can “discover” a new-to-them concept (60%).
  2. Concept Clarification section sticks to the exact same concept, not just same topic or benchmark, and fully clarifies it with examples, notes, definitions, and whatever else would be helpful and relevant for that concept (20%).
  3. Concept Application asks students to use exactly the same concept in a new way, alone or in conjunction with previously learned concepts (20%).

I weight the Concept Discovery section three times as much as each of the other two stages because it is the lynchpin of the learning cycle.  Excellent Concept Clarification and Concept Application plans are evidence of excellent learning cycle planning skills only if the Concept Discovery phase is workable.  Without a workable Concept Discovery stage, I do not have evidence that my students can plan a learning cycle lesson.

Next Steps

Once my students have had the opportunity to complete their application of the learning cycle concept by writing a learning cycle lesson plan, I move to the next need: translating their understanding of the DCA learning cycle to the models used in the field of science education.  It is critically important to me that my preservice students are able to engage in the discourse around the learning cycle in their professional networks, in their planning, and in their professional development.  In the end, the DCA learning cycle is not meant to be an end in itself—I have no interest in seeing any of the other models ousted—it is only meant to serve as a clearer means to teach the underlying framework or philosophy of “the” learning cycle, whichever final model one chooses.

For this brief learning cycle, I set the objectives as, “Explain the evolutionary roots and development of ‘the’ learning cycle” and “Defend a lesson plan using published learning cycle theory.”  For Concept Discovery, I ask my students to examine the 5E model and Keeley’s (2008) SAIL model, then craft text or a diagram that articulates the areas of alignment and divergence that they see (Figure 2, Figure 3, Figure 4).  After students share those models with each other, for Concept Clarification, I diagram the areas of alignment on the board along with a branched evolutionary timeline showing the learning cycles by Karplus (Karplus, 1979; Karplus & Butts, 1977; Karplus & Thier, 1967), Lawson (Lawson et al., 1989; Lawson, 1995), Bybee (1997), and Keeley (2008) as a background for why the alignments are present.  For application, my students need to rewrite the rationale for the pedagogy of their lesson plan using one of the published models of the learning cycle as the theoretical base in place of the DCA cycle.

Figure 2 (Click on image to enlarge). Student Comparison 1.

Figure 3 (Click on image to enlarge). Student Comparison 2.

Figure 4 (Click on image to enlarge). Student Comparison 3.

Additional Support for Creating Concept “Discovery” Activities

I recognized a few years into my career as a science teacher educator that my preservice teachers struggled the most with creating discovery portions of the learning cycle.  After a couple years of beating my head against a wall and wailing at the reading of some of my students’ derailed, tangled, or simply traditional confirmation labs (Bell et al., 2005) they were calling “discovery,” I realized that they needed more help in conceptualizing and building true, inductive, Concept Discovery experiences for their own secondary students.  They also needed help moving beyond simply thinking about labs as ways of learning, especially for content that did not lend itself to laboratory investigations

As I analyzed my own learning cycle lessons trying to figure out how I was crafting them, I realized that there were some unwritten templates that I was employing.  I first identified three main categories into which the Concept Discovery activities fit: drawing conclusions from data; inferring rules, definitions, or relationships from examples; and ordering or sorting based on observable characteristics. As I used those categories over the years and added examples, I found that all three categories—not just the first—really involved students in “drawing conclusions from data.” Additionally, I realized that I was subdividing the examples in the first category in ways that were more helpful than the larger category itself.  I then arrived at six main—and, at times, overlapping—categories into which Concept Discovery learning experiences fall:

  • investigating a hypothesis in a laboratory investigation;
  • finding patterns in extant data sets;
  • experiencing the phenomenon (live or through simulation);
  • mimicking the way the relationship or phenomenon was discovered by scientists;
  • ordering or sorting based on observable characteristics; and
  • inferring rules, definitions, or relationships from examples.

Each approach involves students in using the science practices of “analyzing and interpreting data” and “constructing explanations” as well as one or more additional science practices (NRC, 2012).  I provide my science methods students with a handout on these categories of Concept Discovery experiences (Appendix D) and ask them to identify which type each of my example learning cycle lessons employed.  Providing my preservice science teachers with this categorization of Concept Discovery has helped them to expand their imagining of Concept Discovery experiences from just laboratory investigations to a myriad of data-driven inductive cognitive experiences.  That freeing of their imagination has been especially helpful to students in chemistry and biology who frequently find themselves needing to address standards that do not seem to lend themselves to laboratory investigations.

Taking Stock, Moving Forward

Student Perspectives

My methods students and I have a tremendous amount of fun with the learning cycle in my courses.  The amount of laughter and engaged conversation during the learning cycle experiences lets me know that they are enjoying themselves; the quality of their related assignments, lessons plans, and microteaching lets me know that learning and growth is happening.  Responses to open-ended questions in on-line course evaluations, too, show that students really value the learning cycle experiences in shaping them as teachers.  One student’s entry into the “best part of the course” section nicely captures the range of sentiments that students share:

I really enjoyed and got a lot out of all of the mini inquiry/discovery lessons we got to experience. They were fun, but they also gave me many concrete and easy­to­remember examples of how to get students involved in discovering concepts. Very good meta­teaching. I also enjoyed planning for and teaching the mini lessons. It was good, low­pressure practice.

The bulk of the comments each term focuses on the role of “modeling” of effective instruction.   When students write about modeling, they are at times referring to the fact that I practice “what I preach” in the instruction of our class: I teach the learning cycle through a learning cycle.  At other times, they are referring to my leading of demonstration science lessons with them as stand-ins for secondary students.  Comment after comment makes clear that whether the student has never seen constructivism in action, learns best by doing, wants to see more practical examples of best practices or inquiry in science, or just appreciates the alignment of my expectations of their teaching and my teaching, they find the modeling to be powerful.  One student, for example, wrote,

I liked seeing the activities from the point of view from the students. Moreover, I like the way you role played the teacher trying not to break character. This gave me more insight on how the flow of the classroom should be directed and how to use open questions.

Students also express relief in finally being able to put some meat on their skeleton ideas of what “constructivism,” “inquiry,” and “student-centered” really mean.  One student wrote, “I liked having the opportunity to see lots of discovery and inquiry activities, instead of just hearing that I’m supposed to use inquiry.”  Another shared,

Before this class I had lots of vague ideas about the importance of student centered learning…I have been able to focus my ideas and see examples and practices to turn these ideas into great instruction. I feel much more confident as I proceed into teaching.

The comments also confirm for me that part of why these learning experiences are effective is that they are, after all, constructivist.  Occasionally, a student recognizes the constructivist possibilities that the approach affords, like my student who wrote, “I learn sciecne [sic] best by hands on and that is exactly what this course was and by doing activites [sic], it was easy for me to see where students may stumble.”  Fortunately, the constructivism can be just as powerful for students who are traditional in both their own learning preference and their teaching philosophy.  One student wrote that the modeling and micro-teaching “pushed me toward a more student centered teaching and away from my own way of learning.”

Given that I see my two main professional challenges in science methods instruction as 1) changing the belief structures of my traditional learners towards a constructivist paradigm for teaching, and 2) supporting the motivated constructivists to develop constructivist practices, the comments from my students let me know that the learning cycle experiences are helping me make progress towards those goals.

The View from Here

After almost a decade teaching the DCA learning cycle in a learning cycle format and six years providing examples of the types of discovery experiences teachers can design, I have gotten to a place of more comfort with what my preservice science teachers are able to do.  Sure, I still have a few students who cannot create a coherent discovery experience as part of a meaningful learning cycle, but they are now the exception rather than the rule.  They are students whose content knowledge, focus, beliefs, or academic skills are simply not aligned with those needed for the immense cognitive task of creating Concept Discovery experience.  But my other students, most of my students—including many with in-coming traditional beliefs about teaching and learning—are able to successfully craft excellent learning cycle experiences and are able to articulate the theory supporting that lesson model.  They are thus, I believe, well-positioned to enter the field of science teaching ready to build their planning, instructional, and assessment skills in ways that align with what we know in science education about effective teaching.  My next big task?  To help them do just that in their first few years in the classroom.

References

Bell, R., Smetana, L., & Binns, I. (2005).  Simplifying inquiry instruction. The Science Teacher 70(7), 30-33. Retrieved from http://static.nsta.org/files/tst0510_30.pdf

Bybee, R.W. (1997). Achieving scientific literacy: From purposes to practices. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.

Bybee, R. W. (2002). Scientific inquiry, student learning, and the science curriculum. In R. W. Bybee (Ed.), Learning Science and the Science of Learning (pp. 25-35). Arlington, Virginia: NSTA press.

Bybee, R. W. (2006). Scientific inquiry and science teaching. In L. B. Flick & N. G. Lederman. (Eds.), Scientific Inquiry and Nature of Science: Implications for Teaching, Learning, and Teacher Education (pp. 1-14). Dordrecht, Netherlands: Springer.

Bybee, R., Powell, J., and Trowbridge, L. (2007).  Teaching secondary school science: Strategies for developing scientific literacy.  Boston: Prentice Hall.

Bybee, R. W., Taylor, J. A., Gardner, A., Van Scotter, P., Powell, J. C., Westbrook, A., & Landes, N. (2006). The BSCS 5E instructional model: Origins and effectiveness.  Unpublished white paper. Colorado Springs, CO: BSCS. Retrieved from http://sharepoint.snoqualmie.k12.wa.us/mshs/ramseyerd/Science%20Inquiry%201%2020112012/What%20is%20Inquiry%20Sciecne%20(long%20version).pdf

Driver, R., Squires, A., Rushworth, P., & Wood-Robinson, V. (1994). Making sense of secondary science: Research into children’s ideas. London: Routledge.

Karplus, R. (1979). Teaching for the development of reasoning. In A. Lawson (Ed.), 1980 AETS Yearbook: The Psychology of Teaching for Thinking and Creativity. Columbus, OH: ERIC/SMEAC.

Karplus, R, & Butts, D. (1977).  Science teaching and the development of reasoning.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 14, 169-175. doi: 10.1002/tea.3660140212.

Karplus, R., & Thier, H. (1967). A New look at elementary school science, new trends in curriculum and instruction series. Chicago: Rand McNally.

Keeley, P. (2008).  Science formative assessment: 75 Practical strategies for linking assessment, instruction, and learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Keeley, P. (2015).  Science formative assessment: 50 more strategies for linking assessment, instruction, and learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Lawson, A., Abraham, M., & Renner, J. (1989). A theory of instruction: Using the learning cycle to teach science concepts and thinking skills. NARST Monograph, Number One, National Association of Research in Science Teaching. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED324204.pdf

National Research Council (NRC). (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

National Research Council (NRC). (2006). America’s lab report: Investigations in high school science. Committee on High School Science Laboratories: Role and Vision, S. R. Singer, M. L. Hilton, and H. A. Schweingruber, Editors. Board on Science Education, Center for Education. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

National Research Council (NRC). (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. National Academies Press.

NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

SCALE. (2015). edTPA secondary science assessment handbook. Stanford, CA: Stanford Board of Trustees.

 

Teaching Outside the Box: A Collaborative Field Experience of Formal and Nonformal Educators

Citation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Gross, L.A., & James, J.J. (2017). Teaching outside the box: A collaborative field experience of formal and nonformal educators. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/teaching-outside-the-box-a-collaborative-field-experience-of-formal-and-nonformal-educators/

by Lisa A. Gross, Appalachian State University; & J. Joy James, Appalachian State University

Abstract

This  paper describes a collaborative project in which elementary education (ELED) majors partnered with recreation majors (RM) to develop and implement science lessons in the outdoors. ELED and RM students both need experiential learning to accomplish respective skill sets in multiple settings. The purpose of this project was to provide both undergraduate groups with “real-life” experiences related to their respective fields and in doing so, to promote science learning in natural spaces.  ELED and RM students co-constructed inquiry-based lessons and related recreational activities for implementation with 5th grade students.  The researchers provide an overview of the project and describe the actions, benefits and outcomes of this university partnership.

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.

Become a member or renew your membership

References

Anderson, D., Lawson, B., & Mayer-Smith, J. (2006). Investigating the impact of a practicum experience in an aquarium on preservice teachers. Teaching Education, 17, 341-353.

Bainer, D., Cantrell, D. and Barron, P. (2000). Professional development of nonformal environmental educators through school-based partnerships. Journal of Environmental Education, 32(1), 36-46.

Barcelona, R. J., Hurd, A. R., & Bridgeman, J. A. (2011). A competency-based approach to preparing staff as recreation and youth development leaders. New Directions for Youth Development, 130, 121-139.

Bennett, K. & Heafner, T. (2004). Having a field day with environmental education. Applied Environmental Education and Communication, 3, 89-100.

Bingaman, D. & Bradley-Eitel, K. (2010). Boulder creek study. Science and Children, 47(6), 52-56.

Bixler, R. D., Floyd, M., & Hammitt, W. E. (2002). Environmental socialization: Quantitative tests of childhood play hypothesis. Environment and Behavior, 34, 795-818.

Bleicher, R. (2004). Revisiting the STEBI-B: Measuring self-efficacy in preservice teacher education. School Science and Mathematics, 104, 383-391.

Brown, S. (2009). Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the

Soul. New York: Penguin Publishing.

Burdette, H. L. & Whitaker, R. C. (2005). Resurrecting free play in young children: Looking beyond fitness and fatness to attention, affiliation and affect. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 159, 46-50.

Bybee, R. (2015). The BSCS 5E instructional model: creating teachable moments. Arlington, VA: National Science Teachers Association.

Carrier, S. J. (2009). Environmental education in the schoolyard: learning styles and gender. Journal of Environmental Education. 21(2) 35-48.

Carrier-Martin, S. (2003). The influence of outdoor schoolyard experiences on students’ environmental knowledge, attitudes, behaviors, and comfort levels. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 12(2), 51-63.

Chawla, L. (1998). Significant life experiences revisited: A review of research on the sources of environmental sensitivity. Environmental Education Research, 4, 369-382.

Cronin-Jones, L. L., (2000). The effectiveness of schoolyards as sites for elementary science instruction. School Science and Mathematics, 100, 203­211.

Dadvand, P., Nieuwenhuijsen, M.J., Esnaola, M., Forns, J., Basagaña, X., Alvarez-Pedrerol, M., & Sunyer, J. (2015). Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. Proceedings from the National Academy of Sciences, USA. 112: 7937-7942

Duerden, M. D. & Witt, P. A., (2010). The impact of direct and indirect experiences on the development of environmental knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. The Journal of Environmental Psychology. 30, 379­392.

Ewert, A., Place, G. & Sibthorp, J. (2005). Early-life outdoor experiences and an individual’s environmental attitudes. Leisure Sciences, 27, 225-239.

Gray, P. (2011). The Decline of play and the rise of psychopathology in children and adolescents. American Journal of Play, 3, 443-463.

Gunning, A. & Mensah, F. (2010). Preservice elementary teachers’ development of self-efficacy and confidence to teach science: a case study. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 22, 171-185.

Hofferth, S. (2009). Media use vs. work and play in middle childhood. Social Indicators Research, 90, 127-129.

James, J. J., Bixler, R. & Vadala, C. (2010). From play in nature, to recreation then vocation: A developmental model for natural history-oriented environmental professionals.

Jarrett, O. (1999). Science interest and confidence among preservice elementary teachers. Journal of Elementary Science Education, 11, 49-59.

Kahn P.H., & Kellert, S.R. (2002) Children and nature: psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations. MIT Press; Cambridge, MA

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.

Kisiel, J. (2010). Exploring a school-aquarium collaboration: An intersection of communities of practice. Science Education, 94, 95–121.

Kisiel, J. (2013). Introducing future teachers to science beyond the classroom. Journal of Science Teacher Education. 24, 67-91.

Knotts, G., Henderson, L., Davidson, R.A. & Swain, J.D. (2009). The search for authentic practice across the disciplinary divide. College Teaching, 57, 188-196.

Lederman, N. (1999). Teachers’ understanding of the nature of science and classroom practice. Factors that facilitate or impeded the relationship. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 36, 916-929.

Letterman, M. & Dugan, K. (2004). Team teaching a cross-disciplinary honors course: preparation and development. College Teaching, 55, 76-79.

Louv, R. (2005). Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books.

McLaughlin, D. (2015). Investigating preservice teachers’ self-efficacy through Saturday science. Journal of College Science Teaching, 45(1), 77-83.

Maheady, L., Magiera, K. and Simmons, R. (2016). Building and sustaining school’ university partnerships in rural settings: One approach for improving special education service delivery. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 35(2), 33-40.

McClanahan, L. and Buly, M.R. (2009). Purposeful partnerships: Linking preservice teachers with diverse K-12 students, Multicultural Education, 16(3), 55-59.

Miller, James R. (2005). Biodiversity conservation and the extinction of experience. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 20, 430-434.

Moseley, C., Reinke, K., & Bookout, V. (2002). The effect of teaching outdoor environmental education on preservice teachers’ attitudes toward self-efficacy and outcome expectancy. Journal of Environmental Education, 34(1), 9-15.

National Governors Association Center for Best Practice (2016). Common core state standards. National Governors Association for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers. Washington, D.C.

Proshansky, H. & Fabian, A. (1987). The development of place identity in the child. In Weinstein, C.S. & David, C. (Eds.) Spaces for children. NY: Plenum Press, 21­39.

Pyle, R. M. (2002). Eden in a vacant lot: special places, species and kids in community of life. In Kahn P.H., & Kellert, S.R. (Eds.) Children and nature: psychological, sociocultural, and evolutionary investigations. MIT Press; Cambridge, MA

Pyle, R. M. (1993). The Thunder tree: lessons from an urban wildland. New York: Lyons Press.

Rios, J. & Brewer, J. (2014). Outdoor education and science achievement. Applied Environmental Education & Communication, 13, 234-240.

Shin, M., Lee, H. and McKenna, J.W. (2016). Special education and general education preservice teachers’ co-teaching experiences: a comparative synthesis of qualitative research. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 20, 21-107.

Smith, M.H. & Trexler, C.J. (2006). A University-school partnership model: Providing stakeholders with benefits to enhance science literacy. Action in Teacher Education, 27(4), 23-34.

Smith, B. L., & McCann, J. (Eds.). (2001). Re-Inventing ourselves: Interdisciplinary education, collaborative learning and experimentation in higher education. Bolton, Mass.: Anker Press.

Tal, T. & Steiner, L. (2006). Patterns of teacher-museum staff relationships: school visits to the educational center of a science museum. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 6, 25-46.

Tanner, T. (1980). Significant life experiences: a new research area in environmental education, Journal of Environmental Education, 11(4), 20-24.

Tilgner, E. (1990). Avoiding science in the elementary school. Science Education, 74, 421-431.

Udo, M., Ramsey, G. & Mallow, J. (2004). Science anxiety and gender in students taking general education science courses. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 13, 435-446.

VanSickle, J. and Schaumleffel, N. (2016). Developing recreation, leisure, and sport professional competencies through practitioner/academic service engagement partnerships. Schole: A Journal of Leisure Studies & Recreation Education, 31(2), 37-56.

Wilson, S., Shulman, L. & Richert, A. (1987). 150 Different ways of knowing; representations of knowledge in teaching. In J. Calderhead (Ed.), Exploring Teachers’ Thinking. London: Cassess, 104-124.

 

Cultural Institutions as Partners in Initial Elementary Science Teacher Preparation

Citation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Smetana, L., Birmingham, D., Rouleau, H., Carlson, J., & Phillips, S. (2017). Cultural institutions as partners in initial elementary science teacher preparation. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(2).   Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/cultural-institutions-as-partners-in-initial-elementary-science-teacher-preparation/

by Lara Smetana, Loyola University Chicago; Daniel Birmingham, Colorado State University; Heidi Rouleau, The Field Museum; Jenna Carlson, Loyola University Chicago; & Shannon Phillips, The Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Abstract

Despite an increased recognition of the role that ‘informal’ learning spaces (e.g. museums, aquariums, other cultural institutions) have in children’s science education (NRC, 2015), there remains a gap between the goals and values of ‘informal’ and ‘formal’ (i.e. school-based) learning sectors. Moreover, the potential for informal spaces and institutions to also play a role in initial teacher preparation is only beginning to be realized. Here, we present our Science Teacher Learning Ecosystem model and explain how it frames the design of our elementary science teacher education coursework. We then use this framework to describe learning experiences that are collaboratively planned and implemented with two local museums. These course sessions engage teacher candidates as science learners and develop abilities and mindsets for bridging formal and informal teaching and learning divides. Readers are encouraged to think about their unique context and the out-of-school partners available to collaborate with, be it museums similar to those described here or parks, after-school programs, gardens, etc.

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.

Become a member or renew your membership

References

Birmingham, D., Smetana, L.K., & Coleman, E.R., & Carlson, J. (2015, April). Developing science identities: What role does a teacher preparation program play? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching, Chicago, IL.

Bransford, J., Brown, A., & Cocking, R. (Eds). 2000. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience and School. Washington D.C.: National Academy Press.

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977). Toward an experimental ecology of human development. American Psychologist, 32, 513-531.

Duschl, R., Schweingruber, H., & Shouse, A. (2007). Taking Science to School:: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Falk , J.H. & Dierking, L.D. (2000). Learning from museums: visitor experiences and the making of meaning. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Falk, J. H., Storksdieck, M., & Dierking, L. D. (2007). Investigating public science interest and understanding: evidence for the importance of free-choice learning. Public

Understanding of Science, 16, 455–469.

Hollins, E. R. (2011). Teacher preparation for quality teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 62, 395-407.

National Research Council. (2009). Learning Science in Informal Environments: People, Places, and Pursuits. Committee on Learning Science in Informal Environments. Philip Bell, Bruce Lewenstein, Andrew W. Shouse, and Michael A. Feder, Editors. Board on Science Education, Center for Education. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

National Research Council. (2010). Surrounded by Science: Learning Science in Informal Environments. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

National Research Council. (2015). Identifying and Supporting Productive STEM

Programs in Out-of-School Settings. Committee on Successful Out-of-School STEM Learning. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Zeichner, K. (2006). Reflections of a university-based teacher educator on the future of college- and university-based teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 57, 326-340.

Reflecting on a 5E Lesson with Preservice Elementary Teachers: Providing an Opportunity for Productive Conversations about Science Teaching

Citation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Bradbury, L. (2017). Reflecting on a 5E lesson with preservice elementary teachers: Providing an opportunity for productive conversations about science teaching. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(2). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/reflecting-on-a-5e-lesson-with-preservice-elementary-teachers-providing-an-opportunity-for-productive-conversations-about-science-teaching/

by Leslie Bradbury, Appalachian State University

Abstract

This article describes a guided reflection activity in an elementary science methods course.  The author details how she videotaped model “Explore” and “Explain” sections of a 5E lesson in her methods course and then systematically reflected on the teaching episodes with her students (Bybee et al., 2006).  Templates for data collection and guiding questions for the reflections are included along with a student work sample.  The author outlines what she and her students learned from the experience.

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.

Become a member or renew your membership

References

Bradbury, L.U., Wilson, R.E., & Brookshire, L. (in press). Developing elementary science PCK for teacher education: Lessons learned from a second grade partnership. Research in Science Education.

Bybee, R.W., Taylor, J.A., Gardner, A., Van Scotter, P., Powell, J.C., Westbrook, A., & Landes, N. (2006). The BSCS 5E instructional model: Origins and effectiveness. Retrieved from http://bscs.org/bscs-5e-instructional-model.

Jewitt, C., Kress, G., Ogborn, J., & Charalampos, T. (2001) Exploring learning through visual communication: the multimodal environment of a science classroom. Educational Review, 53(1), 5-18.

Lunenberg, M., Korthagen, F., & Swennen, A.  (2007).  The teacher educator as a role model. Teaching and Teacher Education, 23, 586-601.

Mulholland, J., & Wallace, J.  (2005).  Growing the tree of teacher knowledge: Ten years of learning to teach elementary science.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42, 767-790.

NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Schön, D.A.  (1983).  The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action.  New York: Basic Books.

Shulman, L.S., & Shulman, J.H. (2004). How and what teachers learn: A shifting perspective. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 36, 257-271.

Implementing Tool-Supported Rehearsals for Ambitious Science Teaching in an Elementary Science Methods Classroom

Citation
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Benedict-Chambers, A., Aram, R., & Wood, G. (2017). Implementing tool-supported rehearsals for ambitious science teaching in an elementary science methods classroom. Innovations in Science Teacher Education, 2(1). Retrieved from https://innovations.theaste.org/implementing-tool-supported-rehearsals-for-ambitious-science-teaching-in-an-elementary-science-methods-classroom/

by Amanda Benedict-Chambers, Missouri State University; Roberta Aram, Missouri State University; & Gina Wood, Missouri State University

Abstract

In this article, we focus on the implementation in our elementary science methods course of a suite of tools supporting peer rehearsals designed to provide opportunities for preservice teachers to notice and analyze important features of ambitious science instruction prior to teaching in elementary classrooms. The tools include (1) an Engage-Explore-Explain (EEE) Framework for Science Teaching and Learning, which is similar to the first three phases of the 5E learning cycle (2) a list of Developing Student Ideas targeting science concepts in the lessons (3) a list of Common Challenges to Scientific Practices often experienced by elementary science learners; and (4) a EEE Framework feedback form. In rehearsals, novices use the tools to teach specific ambitious practices to their peers and the teacher educator. As the novices elicit and support students’ thinking, the peers and teacher educator use the tools to determine how to respond in ways that reflect children’s sensemaking and use of scientific practices. We developed the tools to guide novices in (a) designing lessons that engaged elementary students in sensemaking about natural phenomena using scientific practices; (b) anticipating, eliciting, and constructively responding to student ideas during instruction; and (c) reflecting on important features of their own science instruction. We describe the learning opportunities tool-supported rehearsals provide for novices to try out and collectively analyze moves for supporting students’ sensemaking. We also discuss how the just-in-time coaching from teacher educators and peer feedback may develop novices’ pedagogical content knowledge and prepare them to engage children in ambitious practice in elementary school classrooms.

Introduction

Like many science teacher educators, we strive to prepare our preservice teachers to teach science in ways advocated by new science education reforms. These reforms acknowledge the complexity of meaningful, deep science learning and call for an integrated approach to instruction where teachers help students use scientific practices to develop, deepen, and apply their knowledge of core ideas and crosscutting concepts (National Research Council, 2012; NGSS Lead States, 2013). Supporting this vision of teaching and learning is complex. Novice teachers need support in recognizing the subtleties of this kind of ambitious instruction in science classrooms (Windschitl, Thompson, Braaten, & Stroupe, 2012). Indeed, we are challenged to prepare novices to facilitate students’ sensemaking in ways with which they may not be familiar (Appleton, 2007). Moreover, novices may need support in learning how to deepen their own science content knowledge to successfully facilitate children’s science understanding (Abell, 2007).

Developing science content knowledge and learning to engage students in scientific practices involves two important aspects. First, it entails learning to notice (van Es & Sherin, 2008), understand, and shape the existing ideas that students may have about particular phenomena (Zembal-Saul, Blumenfeld, & Krajcik, 2000). Second, it involves learning to anticipate and notice students’ use of scientific practices to investigate science phenomena and to support those that move learners toward meaningful science learning and understanding. Learning to notice, understand, and shape student science ideas and practices requires not only action on the part of the novice but also guided reflection on their instruction.

Science and mathematics teacher educators have recently been using peer-teaching rehearsals in methods classrooms to prepare novices to engage children in ambitious practice when they later work with them in classrooms (Benedict-Chambers, 2016; Davis & Boerst, 2014; Lampert, Franke, Kazemi, Ghousseini, Turrou, & Beasley, 2013; Windschitl et al., 2012). Rehearsals are different from run-throughs of lessons that sometimes occur in methods classrooms where peers and teacher educators observe instruction and offer feedback at the end (Grossman, 2005). There are three main differences in rehearsals in regards to the roles of peers, the teacher educator, and the type of instruction enacted. First, rather than just observe the instruction or offer feedback at the end, in rehearsals the peers actively respond to the instruction in ways that represent children’s thinking and the range of interactions teachers may encounter in a classroom setting. Second, in rehearsals, the teacher educator does not wait until the end to give feedback, but rather takes an active role during the lesson. The teacher educator may offer examples of common alternative conceptions that children could have about a science concept for the teacher to take up during the instruction. The teacher educator might also pause the rehearsal to offer just-in-time coaching or to engage the class in a discussion where they reflect on ways to respond to student performance. These discussions allow the teacher educator to use the novices’ instruction as a venue for helping them notice the principles, practices, and content knowledge entailed in the complex work of teaching (Lampert et al., 2013). As the class collectively discusses problems of practice, they can develop a shared understanding for how to interpret and manage the difficulties of ambitious practice. Finally, in rehearsals novices enact specific teaching practices that are deliberately chosen to enable novices to elicit student understanding and to make judgments about how to respond to student performance. These are practices the class had previously studied in video clips of instruction (e.g., videos where teachers probe student thinking or help students write claims supported by evidence).

Although some might feel that rehearsals do not offer the benefits of classroom experiences, many teacher educators argue that the opportunity to focus on the difficult work of responding to student ideas and to have in-the-moment discussions of alternative teaching moves may outweigh the perceived constraints of this approach. Similarly, scholars who study rehearsals argue that while novices are certainly learning to teach during student teaching, their attention may not be focused on the principles and practices entailed in ambitious teaching (Davis & Boerst, 2014; Lampert et al., 2013; McDonald, Kazemi, & Kavanagh, 2013; Windschitl et al., 2012). In sum, although the students in the rehearsals are not elementary children, the rehearsals are designed to be approximations of actual classroom interactions where novices must interpret and manage the complexities of authentic practice (Grossman, Compton, Igra, Ronfeldt, Shahan, & Williamson, 2009).

Drawing on this research, we developed a suite of tools to use with rehearsals in our elementary science methods classroom. The tools scaffolded three critical learning opportunities for novices as they prepared to teach science lessons in classrooms at the end of the semester. These opportunities included (1) designing lessons that engaged elementary students in sensemaking about natural phenomena using scientific practices; (2) anticipating, eliciting, and responding to developing student science ideas and common challenges of using scientific practices; and (3) noticing and analyzing the instructional moves they made in their rehearsals to support student learning. In this article, we focus on the ways the tool-supported rehearsals provided novices with opportunities to notice and analyze important features of science instruction prior to teaching lessons in actual elementary classrooms.

 Theoretical Framework

To develop the tool-supported rehearsals in the elementary science methods course, we used the research of Grossman et al. (2009) on the ways that novices in different professions are prepared to enact and notice features of complex practice. Their framework of practice includes three components: (1) representations of practice such as video recordings of instruction, (2) decompositions of practice involving the identification of features that may not be visible to novices, and (3) approximations of practice such as teaching rehearsals. For instance, in a beginning class for clinical psychologists, Grossman and colleagues found that professors first represented, or modeled ways to develop a therapeutic alliance between a therapist and client. After the representation, professors decomposed the practice, and used a particular language for talking about different approaches for responding to clients. After discussing these moves, the novice psychologists approximated the interactions and took on the roles of a therapist and a client as they worked to build a therapeutic alliance. These approximations provided novices with opportunities to experiment with specific aspects of complex practice. Support and feedback during the approximations prepared them for the uncertainties of real clinical practice.

Developing tools to support novice teacher noticing and analysis

To help the novice teachers learn to notice and analyze important features of science instruction, we used a suite of tools that were developed by the first author (Benedict-Chambers, 2016). The tools included (1) an Engage-Explore-Explain (EEE) Framework for Science Teaching and Learning, which is similar to the first three phases of the 5E learning cycle (Bybee, Taylor, Gardner, Van Scotter, Powell, Westbrook, & Landes, 2006); (2) a List of Developing Student Ideas targeting concepts addressed in the rehearsals and classroom lessons; (3) a List of Common Challenges to Scientific Practices often experienced by elementary science learners; and (4) a EEE Framework feedback form.

Engage-Explore-Explain (EEE) Framework for Science Teaching and Learning

The first tool, the Engage-Explore-Explain (EEE) Framework for Science Teaching and Learning, was created to guide novices in designing, enacting, and noticing important features of ambitious science instruction (see Benedict-Chambers, 2016). The EEE Framework identified science teaching practices linked with each EEE phase that integrated the work of using scientific practices to promote student learning:

  • Engage phase: Elicit and engage students’ ideas with an investigation question
  • Explore phase: Support students’ observations and data collection explorations
  • Explain phase: Help students notice patterns in data and develop evidence-based explanations

The teaching methods and scientific practices emphasized in the framework were based on recent research identifying high-leverage practices (e.g., Windschitl et al., 2012) and current reforms including the Next Generation Science Standards (NRC, 2012; NGSS Lead States, 2013). The scientific practices included asking questions, developing and using models, planning and carrying out investigations, analyzing and interpreting data, constructing explanations, and engaging in argument from evidence. The EEE Framework guided novices in identifying and embedding instructional moves to elicit students’ ideas and use them as resources for learning throughout the science lesson.

Lists of Developing Student Ideas and Common Challenges to Scientific Practices

The second and third tools, a List of Developing Student Ideas and a List of Common Challenges to Scientific Practices, were designed to help novices anticipate, notice and understand the logic of typical ideas students may have about specific phenomena (see Appendix A), and difficulties elementary students commonly face in learning to use scientific practices (see Appendix B). The information about student science ideas was derived from research on student thinking related to the concepts in the lessons (e.g., Driver, Guesne, & Tiberghien, 1985). The scientific practice challenges, such as students’ difficulties in making and recording qualitative observations in an accurate manner, came from the teacher educators’ research and teaching experiences in elementary schools (see Arias, Davis, Marino, Kademian, & Palincsar, 2016). Novices were expected to include questions in their lesson plans to elicit and build off children’s existing science ideas and to understand the logic of their possible developing and alternative ideas. During the rehearsals, peers role-played students with developing science ideas representing children’s sensemaking strategies and the range of responses the novices might encounter in an elementary classroom. Peers also enacted scientific practice challenges to simulate interactions where “students” struggled to use the practices to construct scientifically acceptable explanations.

EEE Framework Feedback Form 

The fourth tool, the EEE Framework feedback form, was developed to help novices attend to important features of each phase of EEE instruction during their own and peer rehearsals (see Appendix C).  The feedback form names key teaching practices associated with each phase of the EEE science lesson. It describes three levels of performance for each teaching practice and provides space for observers to comment on peers’ use of the teaching practices, ways to improve their instruction, and to pose questions to help clarify instruction during rehearsals. After the rehearsal, peers and the teacher educator record evidence of practice on the form to support their feedback claims about the teaching team’s rehearsal. The teaching teams used the feedback to improve aspects of their instruction before teaching the lesson in elementary classrooms at the end of the semester.

Tool-Supported Rehearsals and Reflections

Novice teachers in the science methods courses were introduced to the suite of tools early in the semester, and the teacher educator provided rich in-class opportunities for novices to understand and use each of the tools (see Table 1). The EEE Framework form was applied to videos of science lessons where novices enacted key teaching practices associated with each phase of the Framework. The feedback form provided space for novices to sort through the complexity of the video case and to identify, describe, and analyze important teaching practices in writing. During and after each video example, the teacher educator facilitated discussions designed to help novices notice where practices occurred in the lesson, how practices were implemented, and general effectiveness of each practice in responding to existing and emerging student ideas and challenges to scientific practices.

The novice teaching teams applied their understanding of the tools as they planned the rehearsals. They used the EEE Framework for Science Teaching and Learning to develop the Engage, Explore, and Explain phases of the science lesson. They also designed the lessons to elicit and address the science conceptions and challenges to scientific practices reported in the Student Ideas and Challenges tools. The grade level of the elementary classroom and the state science learning standards determined the phenomenon investigated in each lesson.

Each teaching team’s Engage, Explore, and Explain rehearsal was videotaped and the rehearsals lasted approximately 20 minutes. During the rehearsals, the peers simulated the role of elementary students exhibiting developing student ideas and common challenges to scientific practices. The peers also used the EEE Framework Feedback form during the rehearsals to record evidence of the teaching team’s performance. During the instruction, the teacher educator offered approximately three just-in-time feedback comments, giving novice teachers opportunities to adjust their teaching as needed. Following rehearsals, the teacher educator, teaching teams, and their peers collaboratively discussed what they noticed about the teaching performance and how to manage any difficult interactions. Written feedback from both teacher educator and peers on the feedback forms guided this analysis. Sometimes these discussions focused on the teachers’ own understanding of the phenomena, as a way to develop their science content knowledge. Other times the discussions focused on helping the novices more effectively facilitate students’ conceptual understanding. For instance, in the rehearsal, a novice teacher may have explained to a peer student the accepted science idea and how it conflicts with an alternative idea offered by the peer student. After the rehearsal, the class may discuss ways to probe the peer student’s thinking as a means for the novice teacher to acknowledge and try to understand the peer student’s view. These discussions may help novices develop pedagogical content knowledge as they learn how to anticipate and respond to student thinking about particular phenomena in productive ways (Zembal-Saul et al., 2000).

After each class in which a rehearsal took place, novices individually reviewed their lesson videos, taking notes including time-stamps to cite as evidence, and completed the Science Teaching Rehearsal Reflection. The reflections were driven by prompts that directed the novices to focus on and analyze specific aspects of their instruction—science content, student ideas, and scientific practices.

Between the Engage and Explore lesson phase rehearsals on campus, novices visited their assigned elementary classroom to observe and gain entré into the existing classroom culture. They also drafted a pre-test, the results of which would inform their science lesson planning.  Novices again visited their elementary classroom the week between the Explore and Explain lesson rehearsal to administer the pretests. At the end of the semester, teaching teams combined the phases to teach a complete EEE Framework lesson in the elementary classroom. Afterwards they administered a post-test designed to gauge student learning. The novices then analyzed their pre- and post-test student data, examined the video of their classroom lesson, and submitted a final reflection to address all three phases of the EEE science lesson.

Table 1 (Click on image to enlarge)
Tool and Rehearsal Use During a Semester Long Science Education Course

Novice Teacher Rehearsal Reflections

To examine the ways the tool-supported rehearsals provided novices with opportunities to notice important features of science instruction, we looked at rehearsal reflections from 49 novice teachers enrolled in the course. A total of 147 Engage, Explore, and Explain reflections were collected across three sections of the course. We focused on the last question of the reflection, “First, indicate one new area you or your team could revise from your lesson and what you could have done to improve the instruction. Second, provide evidence (timestamp or student work evidence) from the lesson to prove that revision is needed to better support student learning. Third, provide a rationale to explain why your idea for revision could have more effectively supported student learning of the specific science concept of your lesson. Fourth, indicate specific moves that describe what you could have done to improve the instruction.” We independently read a sample of the reflections and looked for what novices identified or noticed as important to revise in their lesson. Some novices identified multiple areas for revision, but the most substantive topic per reflection was selected.

Reflections of Novice Teachers

Novices focused on three aspects of their instruction: (1) moves related to student use of scientific practices; (2) moves related to student science content learning; and (3) general pedagogical moves. Scientific practices instruction included students making predictions, making and recoding observations, identifying patterns and interpreting data, and writing evidence-based claims. Science content learning related to the phenomena emphasized in the lesson rehearsals such as the structure and function of stems and roots, conservation of matter, and sound energy. General pedagogical moves included teaching strategies not specific to science instruction but applicable to teaching any subject matter. For example, novices discussed their need to revise the amount of time they spent during each part of their lesson or their ways of engaging and maintaining student attention. As shown in Table 2, in 82% of the rehearsal reflections, novices named an area for revision in their rehearsal that related to student use of scientific practices (45%) or student science content learning (37%).

Table 2 (Click on image to enlarge)
Aspects of Science Teaching Noticed in Novice Teachers’ Videotaped Rehearsal Reflections

For example, in her rehearsal reflection, Sara focused on revising the moves she made related to student use of scientific practices:

One area that my team could revise would be providing students with the correct information to fill in their claim and evidence. When we collected students’ data, there were some errors in the data and we did not know how to tell students that for their final claim, they need to use the correct data. This happened at 10:04 in our video. This idea for revision would more effectively support students’ learning of how changing the shape of an object does not change the volume of the object because students need to see that the volumes are the same. If there is an error in the data collected, they will think that the volume did change because they can compare the numbers and see that one is a lot smaller than the rest. We would correct this in our lesson, by addressing the errors as we walk around the classroom as students are completing the investigation. During the Explain Phase, we plan to have an error on the board so that we can teach students the importance of having accurate data and that re-investigating a situation can be helpful. (Sara’s Explain Reflection).

In this excerpt, Sara identified an issue related to helping “students” in the rehearsal collect accurate data about how the shape of an object does not change its volume. She realized that students did not collect accurate water displacement data during the investigation. She considered two ways to revise her instruction. She considered walking around the room to help students address their errors during the investigation, and then she imagined discussing an incorrect example with the class after the investigation. She noted that these revisions might emphasize the importance of accurate data in supporting one’s claims about how the shape of an object does not change its volume. The focus of her revision relates to student use of scientific practices, and in particular helping students construct evidence-based claims.

Another novice, Ben, noticed the moves he made related to student science content learning in his rehearsal:

Instead of using our diagram of a plant and a story, we should use celery stalks both in colored water and out of water to show the phenomena of how stems work. At 1:15 in the video we tell the story about watering plants, but it doesn’t capture the phenomena of stems and it seems to be that we will be talking about roots instead, which could be very confusing for first graders. Specific moves that we could have done would have been to bring in celery in a jar with colored water and shown the students that the colored water had made it all the way up to the leaves of the celery and turned the leaves a different color. By asking the students how they think the water got up to the leaves, this would begin to make them question the phenomena and would get them focused on the job of a stem. Making the students question the phenomena is the first step in scientific inquiry. (Ben’s Engage Reflection).

Here, Ben focused on the story he provided in the Engage phase to activate his “students” thinking about the structure and function of celery stems. He noticed that his hook, which focused on watering plants in his yard, might lead students to pay attention to the function of roots rather than the function of stems. In his analysis, he considered another way to help students begin to think about the structure and function of stems. He imagined bringing celery in a jar of colored water into the class. He wondered if this demonstration might help students develop some initial ideas about how stems carry water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves of a plant. The focus of his revision relates to student science content learning as he imagined ways to revise his instruction to better support students’ learning of stems.

In Melissa’s reflection, she considered the importance of revising her instruction to maintain student attention. Her focus is on general pedagogical moves she made in her rehearsal:

I feel like we can fill out the t-chart, identify the patterns, and write the [Explain] handout together, but we can allow the students to fill out the bottom of the handout [the evidence-based claims] on their own using their charts so that we can see if they are understanding rather than them just copying what we write up on the chart.

Every single [student] worksheet has all of the correct answers filled in, but it is because we wrote the answers up on the board for them to copy…I think that the revision could have supported student learning because we can actually see whether or not the students are understanding the lesson. By [asking] students to fill [it] out themselves, they will have to understand just how important it is to pay attention (Melissa’s Explain Reflection).

In this excerpt, Melissa noted that all of the peer students in her rehearsal completed the data table and evidence-based claims accurately, but she realized that they might have copied the answers the teacher wrote on the board. She considered asking students to use the data table to complete the evidence-based claims on their own. She also mentioned that asking students to complete the explanations could help them to focus on the instruction. She reasons that holding students accountable for paying attention to the instruction may contribute to her ability to effectively assess her students’ thinking and her students’ opportunities to generate explanations of their developing science ideas.

Conclusion

Tool-supported rehearsals may support novice teachers in learning to notice important aspects of their instruction, such as students’ use of scientific practices and student science content learning. As other teacher educators have found (e.g., Grossman et al., 2009; Windschitl et al., 2012), it may be that the suite of tools helped to make visible some of the complex features of practice that can be difficult for novices to see in busy classroom settings. For instance, naming the developing ideas that children may hold about phenomena and the common challenges students may face in learning to conduct investigations might remind novices to pay attention to those aspects of student sensemaking when they reflect on their instruction.

It may also be that using these tools provided a vision of exemplary science teaching and a shared language for parsing practice that helped the class engage in collective sensemaking (Goodwin, 1994). Starting the first day, the class was immersed in studying, practicing, and reflecting on instruction that engaged students in using scientific practices to develop conceptual understanding in ways that are consistent with practicing scientists. Working collaboratively to identify and productively engage with the challenges of ambitious practice may be a singular affordance offered by the methods classroom context (Lampert et al., 2013). Pausing a rehearsal, highlighting an interaction where a “teacher” could notice an important student idea, and asking them to rewind and revise their instruction are unique science pedagogical learning opportunities.

We are aware of the potential limitations of tool-supported rehearsals. Some novices may find it hard to buy-in to the authenticity of the simulated interactions and adopt the role of “elementary students” in their peers’ rehearsals. Novices may be unnerved by the teacher educator’s feedback and the request to rewind and redo an aspect of their lesson. To mitigate these scenarios, methods instructors are encouraged, day one of their course, to include their students in building mutual trust and in clarifying the anticipated learning outcomes of the rehearsals. We must celebrate all learning, especially those of novice teachers.  Indeed, teacher educators do well to respect preservice teachers as beginners and to recognize that learning to notice complex features of instruction does not come naturally, but must be learned (Rodgers, 2002). At the same time, we are challenged to design methods courses to better prepare preservice teachers for success in K-12 classrooms. We must develop, test, and implement innovative pedagogical approaches that prepare novices to think and act like an effective science teacher who is equipped with and confident in using a full array of ambitious science practices.

References

Abell, S. K. (2007). Research on science teacher knowledge. In S. K. Abell & N. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 1105-1149). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Appleton, K. (2007). Elementary science education. In S. Abell & N. Lederman (Eds.), Handbook of research on science education (pp. 493–535). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Arias, A. M., Davis, E. A., Marino, J.-C., Kademian, S. M., & Palincsar, A. S. (2016). Teachers’ use of educative curriculum materials to engage students in science practices. International Journal of Science Education, 38(9), 1504-1526.

Benedict-Chambers, A. (2016). Using tools to promote novice teacher noticing of science teaching practices in post-rehearsal discussions. Teaching and Teacher Education, 59, 28-44.

Bybee, R. W., Taylor, J. A., Gardner, A., Van Scotter, P., Powell, J. C., Westbrook, A., & Landes, N. (2006). The BSCS 5E Instructional Model: Origins and Effectiveness. Retrieved from Colorado Springs, CO: http://www.bscs.org/sites/default/files/_legacy/BSCS_5E_Instructional_Model-Executive_Summary_0.pdf

Davis, E. A., & Boerst, T. (2014). Designing elementary teacher education to prepare well-started beginners. Retrieved from http://www.teachingworks.org/images/files/TeachingWorks_Davis_Boerst_WorkingPapers_March_2014.pdf

Driver, R., Guesne, E., & Tiberghien, A. (1985). Children’s ideas and the learning of science. Milton Keynes, England: Open University Press.

Goodwin, C. (1994). Professional vision. American Anthropologist, 96(3), 606–633.

Grossman, P. L. (2005). Research on pedagogical approaches in teacher education. In M. Cochran-Smith & K. Zeichner (Eds.), Studying teacher education: The report of the AERA panel on research and teacher education (pp. 425-476). Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Grossman, P. L., Compton, C., Igra, D., Ronfeldt, M., Shahan, E., & Williamson, P. W. (2009). Teaching practice: A cross-professional perspective. Teachers College Record, 111(9), 2055-2100.

Lampert, M., Franke, M. L., Kazemi, E., Ghousseini, H. N., Turrou, A. C., & Beasley, H., et al. (2013). Keeping it complex: Using rehearsals to support novice teacher learning of ambitious teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(3), 226-243.

McDonald, M., Kazemi, E., & Kavanagh, S. S. (2013). Core practices and pedagogies of teacher education: A call for a common language and collective activity. Journal of Teacher Education, 64(5), 378-386.

National Research Council. (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education:  Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Retrieved from Washington, D.C.: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13165/a-framework-for-k-12-science-education-practices-crosscutting-concepts

NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Retrieved from Washington, D.C.: http://www.nap.edu/catalog/18290/next-generation-science-standards-for-states-by-states

Rodgers, C. R. (2002). Seeing student learning: Teacher change and the role of reflection. Harvard Educational Review, 72(2), 230-253.

van Es, E. A., & Sherin, M. G. (2008). Mathematics teachers’ “learning to notice” in the context of a video club. Teaching and Teacher Education, 24(2), 244-276.

Watson, B., & Konicek, R. (1990). Teaching for conceptual change: Confronting children’s experience. Phi Delta Kappan, 71, 680-684.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., Braaten, M., & Stroupe, D. (2012). Proposing a core set of instructional practices and tools for teachers of science. Science Education, 96(5), 878-903.

Zembal-Saul, C., Blumenfeld, P., & Krajcik, J. (2000). Influence of guided cycles of planning, teaching, and reflection on prospective elementary teachers’ science content representations. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37(4), 318-339.