Assessments should provide teachers and students with timely feedback about students’ thinking, and these assessments should support teachers’ efforts to improve instruction.
Professional development and teacher preparation should focus on effective methods for teaching science, understanding how students learn science, and helping teachers understand core scientific concepts and how they connect.
Although this new way of understanding science learning requires the involvement of many in the education system, it is the classroom science teacher who has the most frequent and direct impact on students’ classroom experiences. In this chapter we focus on the particular knowledge and skill that teachers need in order to teach science well and the ways in which the system should shift to support teacher learning and development.
At the Rosa Parks Community School in the South Bronx, the teachers have been working together to change how they teach science, with support and guidance from their principal, Marianne Goldenada. The entire faculty, including the principal, assistant principal, and all pre-K through grade 8 instructional staff, have decided to make science learning a primary focus of their school improvement plan.
In order to do this, they decided to focus more attention on student learning, including exploring together how students learn, what supports student learning, and examining student work and performance. While they’ve made a commitment to follow the district’s science standards, they’ve also decided to create what they call “grade by grade learning trajectories” that are built around a set of core science concepts that they will build on in each successive grade.
This year, all of the teachers in the school will be working together to deepen their knowledge and create linked instructional activities around a central topic in physics—the nature and structure of matter—and a central topic in the life sciences—biodiversity, biological variation, and change within and across populations. The teachers will work both in grade-level “study groups” that meet once a week and as an entire faculty meeting once a month, to plan units together, compare notes, read articles and curriculum reports, and present both problems and successes to each other.
School principal Goldenada inspires the teachers at Rosa Parks to learn right alongside their kids. She visits their classrooms, sits in on study group sessions,