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

by Sarah R. Hick, Hamline University

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.

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

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.

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

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.

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

by Leslie Bradbury, Appalachian State University

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.