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

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.

Education for Sustainability: A 5E Lesson on the Water Cycle Introduces Elementary Preservice Teachers to Think about Their Impacts on Earth’s Fresh Water Supply

by Molly Trendell Nation, University of South Florida; & Jeni Davis, University of South Florida

The following lesson demonstrates the use of a 5E learning cycle to teach elementary preservice teachers (PSTs) the basic principles of the water cycle and scientific modeling. An Education for Sustainability (EfS) approach was utilized to further engage students in thinking about human impact and the implications we have on this natural process. Through this classroom activity, PSTs were able to explore Earth’s water system and the consequential social effects on water availability, cleanliness, and sustainability worldwide.

Introducing the ASSIST Approach to Preservice STEM Teachers

by Mark A. McDermott, University of Iowa; & Mason Kuhn, University of Northern Iowa

The Argument-based Strategies for STEM Infused Science Teaching Approach (ASSIST) is a pedagogical approach based on the Science Writing Heuristic (SWH).  In addition to framing instruction around the SWH approach, ASSIST emphasizes the use of multimodal communication, focuses on purposeful integration of mathematics, technology, and engineering in science learning, and provides templates to help teachers plan activities and units aligned with the approach.  The authors of this paper have utilized the approach in their classrooms as well as helped inservice teachers understand and utilize the approach through professional development.  Recently, the authors have also begun to develop and implement methods courses for preservice elementary and secondary science teachers based on the approach.  In this article, an engaging activity based on a card trick is described that introduces preservice students to the SWH as a way to promote more general understanding of the approach.  The goal of the activity is to help the preservice students identify the major characteristics of the SWH approach that is central to the ASSIST approach while simultaneously experiencing the potential for student learning the approach provides and the connections to development of an appropriate view of the nature of science.  This sets the stage for future learning related to implementing the overall ASSIST approach in classroom settings.

Developing case studies in teacher education: Spotlighting socioscientific issues

by Isha DeCoito, Western University; & Xavier Fazio, Brock University

Despite the growing corpus of research on socioscientific issues (SSI) in science education, the relevant implications for science teacher education remain relatively unexplored. There is a need for preservice and inservice programs that challenge teachers’ discomfort and suggest means for teaching controversial issues. In order to better inform these efforts, it is necessary to learn more about how preservice teachers use science curriculum materials dealing with SSI in science learning environments. One avenue for exploring SSI with teacher candidates (TCs) is through case studies. Case studies have had extensive usage in numerous disciplines; in science education case studies can take into consideration many different facets of science including epistemology, scientific content, and the nature of science. With the goal of gaining a better understanding of how to support TCs in fostering their future students’ understanding of SSI, this research study was conducted while TCs were supported by their instructor in the development of case studies about SSI in a secondary science methods course.  This paper outlines the processes involved in preparing and supporting TCs while they assumed dual roles – curriculum developers and co-constructors of knowledge – as they developed their case studies. Additionally, it provides a structure for developing case studies and highlights an example of a case study focusing on genetically modified salmon. Further, this assignment provides a useful framework for science teacher educators wishing to create appropriate SSI assignments for TCs in science education.