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
Tools and resources are necessary to sustain teacher learning. District- and school-level professional development staff can play an important role in identifying and sharing resources with teachers. In particular, educators will need access to instances of excellent science teaching that they can study in real time, in texts like this one, or through video and interactive technologies. Professional development staff may need to scour local resources and consult professional networks to find materials that exemplify excellent practice in science teaching.
The curriculum is a critical tool for improving science education. It articulates goals for science education and characterizes the experiences students should have to advance toward those goals. Yet curricula often fail to identify and support the range of practices that underlie effective science learning.
While some curriculum specialists will be part of a system that is ready to tackle a systemic revision of its K-8 science curriculum and to build it in ways resonant with core concepts, learning progressions, and science as practice, others may need to find smaller ways to improve their curricula. They can begin to discern the ways in which their curricula map onto the goals outlined in this volume and identify how to make revisions. They can begin to ask themselves: Does our curriculum present science as a process of building theories and models using evidence, checking them for internal consistency and coherence, and testing them empirically? Are discussions of scientific methodology introduced in the context of pursuing specific questions and issues rather than as templates or invariant recipes? Does discussion of scientific method include a focus beyond experiments and incorporate examples from disciplines of science that employ observational and historical methods? Posing these questions will help curriculum professionals identify shortcomings in their local curriculum on which they can focus their energies.
Teachers may want to know what they can do immediately to improve science teaching, as they go into the classroom tomorrow and plan units of study for the coming weeks and months. Although some of the changes described in this book will benefit from (or require) major changes in the education system, individual teachers can begin immediately to practice aspects of the science teaching described here.