Michaels, Sarah, Shouse, Andrew W., Schweingruber, Heidi A.. "8 A System That Supports Science Learning." Ready, Set, SCIENCE!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2007.
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Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms
example, will need to learn about the four strands of proficiency and consider how the instructional system supports them, how students progress across the strands, and what kinds of teacher learning opportunities they should provide for science teachers. Administrators play a critical role in creating the space, time, and incentives for these actors to engage with the ideas in this book and critically examine their current practice.
School-level administrators can help create a school community that actively supports science learning. What this means will vary from school to school. For example, in schools in which science instruction is weak, administrators can share this book with teachers and ask them to think about what small steps they can take to improve science teaching (see below for specific ideas). In a school with a few teachers who are “early adopters” of the ideas in this book, administrators can play a critical support role. They can help educate other teachers, students, and parents about the changes that they observe in these teachers’ classrooms. Classrooms may be a bit noisy at times. The student work that hangs on classroom walls—student-generated graphs and diagrams, lists of working hypotheses, histories of the group’s thinking—may seem strange. Administrators can help build understanding of what early adopters are doing and encourage others to join and support them.
Professional Development Staff
Professional development is needed to help teachers understand science, how children think about and learn science, and how to teach it. If teachers are to create rich and productive science learning experiences for students, they themselves must have experiences working with the four strands of proficiency over time and in ways that relate directly to their own classroom practice. Teachers must be supported to become learners and investigators—of the science they teach, of their students’ thinking, and of the best ways to orchestrate their students’ learning of complex concepts, tools, and practices.
Professional development staff will need to study this book and other current literature on science learning to develop sustained, science-specific professional development. To create and support professional development that is rooted in science and student learning, they should interact with teachers, school administrators, and science curriculum specialists. They may need to lobby their colleagues and supervisors for support and for increased access to teachers. They can premise their arguments for support on the evidence outlined in this book and the study from which it is derived, Taking Science to School.