In this article, we describe our implementation of an innovative approximation of practice in teacher education: chat-based role-play. In so doing, we share our collective experiences as teacher educators about how the preservice teachers (PSTs) across our four methods courses—two elementary science courses, one elementary mathematics course, and one middle school mathematics course—practiced eliciting students’ initial arguments about a matter investigation (for science) or a fractions or ratio problem (for mathematics). The chat-based role-play to which we refer involves a one-on-one, 7-minute-long, teacher–student typed chat in which the teacher aims to elicit the student’s claim and evidence-based reasoning (for science) or justification (for math). We used Eliciting Learner Knowledge (ELK; https://tsl.mit.edu/practice_space/eliciting-learner-knowledge/), a multiplayer option in the Teacher Moments online platform from the MIT Teaching Systems Lab that is free and available for public use, to support this role-playing experience; however, we also explain how other platforms (e.g., Google Docs) can achieve a similar effect. In this article, we describe (a) the affordances of typed chat-based role-play; (b) the ELK platform and elementary science chat as an example; (c) the ways in which we prepared PSTs for their chats, formatted their chat experiences, and asked them to reflect after the chats; (d) how our PSTs benefitted from preparing for, engaging in, and debriefing from these chats; (e) implementation challenges and associated suggestions; and (f) alternate ways of conducting typed chat-based role-play in methods courses. Content-specific examples throughout the article are from science.
Implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; NGSS Lead States, 2013) 3D learning that is well aligned with the performance expectations has been challenging for many science teachers. Furthermore, studies on curriculum materials for NGSS have rarely provided templates or guidelines that are straightforward for teachers to use in their science classes. This project aimed to provide professional development opportunities to middle school teachers (Grades 5–8) through a workshop designed to facilitate the integration of NASA’s educational resources into science lessons aligned with the NGSS 3D learning framework. The workshop included a conceptual model (i.e., 3D Into 5E), lesson templates, and sample lessons. Specifically, the project activities were designed to improve the participating teachers’ space-science content knowledge and instructional strategies, thereby enabling them to capture their students’ interest and channel it toward related STEM careers. Although the BSCS 5E Instructional Model (Bybee et al., 2006) is not a new concept, this project has demonstrated its efficacy as a template for effectively integrating the three dimensions of NGSS with related phenomena in science teaching. This project has not only demonstrated the effectiveness of the 5E model as a tool for promoting a deeper understanding of scientific concepts but also innovatively incorporated hands-on space-science activities to enhance its impact. By engaging teachers in these activities, the project improved their ability to modify instructional materials using the 3D Into 5E template, ultimately leading to a more engaging and impactful learning experience for their students. The study’s results showed that participating teachers experienced significant improvements in their space-science content knowledge and teaching confidence, indicating the effectiveness of this innovative approach. The teachers also reported high levels of student engagement and enjoyment during space-science activities, indicating the potential of this approach to enhance student-centered learning and improve the quality of science instruction delivered to students. Overall, this project’s innovative approach has the potential to transform science education by providing teachers with practical tools and strategies to engage students in science and promote a deeper understanding of space-science concepts.
In this article, we describe a professional learning community (PLC) for science teacher educators that supported changes in pedagogy through educative curriculum materials and vignette writing. The PLC was convened as part of a grant-supported project to build preservice elementary teachers’ content knowledge for matter using educative curriculum materials. PLC members collaborated with one another over an academic year to learn about and discuss implementing curricular materials in their respective science teacher education courses. Due to the collaborative nature of the PLC, members were able to engage in sensemaking collectively around challenges of practice through vignette writing. The process of writing vignettes within the PLC allowed for productive reflection around content knowledge for matter and science teaching practices, ultimately, advancing preservice teachers’ learning about teaching elementary science.