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Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms Appendix A Questions for Practitioners Chapter 1 Does the story about Ms. Fredericks at the beginning of this chapter seem familiar to you? In what ways are Ms. Fredericks’s experiences as a teacher similar to your own or to those of teachers in your school or district? In what ways are they different? What did Ms. Martinez and Mr. Dolens do, specifically, to help their students build on the knowledge, interest, and experience they brought with them to school, while extending their understanding of scientific tools and practices? The case studies describing Ms. Martinez’s and Mr. Dolens’s classes suggest that, in science, it is more important for children have a solid theory of measure, one that crosses several kinds of qualities and units, than to simply know how to measure things. What’s the difference between this and teaching children how to measure? Where do you see evidence in these case studies of the teachers helping their students develop an understanding of the principles of measurement? If you were either Ms. Martinez or Mr. Dolens, how might you bring parents into the exploration of measurement, so that they understood what you are doing in the classroom and extended their children’s learning at home? For principals: How could you facilitate a discussion with teachers, community leaders, or parents using either this chapter or the case studies in this chapter as a starting point? Chapter 2 Where do you see evidence of the four strands of scientific learning in Mr. Walker’s and Ms. Rivera’s investigation of biodiversity in their schoolyard? Which
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Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms elements of their investigation could be implemented in your own classroom, school, or district? If you were to implement a similar investigation in your classroom or school, how would you begin? What kind of support would you need? What resources would you use? For principals and science specialists: How would you support teachers to carry out an extended project like the biodiversity project? How would you adapt the project to fit your particular geographical location, as well as your particular district and school? What does “science as practice” mean to you? Chapter 3 How can educators harness young children’s shared base of understanding and skill to help them learn science? How can children’s misconceptions about science act as stepping-stones to greater scientific understanding? How does this differ from past thinking about children’s misconceptions? Imagine you were going to do the same demonstration with the aquarium and the empty glass that Ms. Faulkner’s class did. Assume that before the demonstration, students came up with the following four predictions: The glass will be filled with water and the paper will get wet. A lot of water will go in the glass but the paper will not get wet. A little water will go in the glass but the paper will not get wet. No water will go in the glass and the paper will not get wet. Which prediction would you use to begin a discussion? Why? What would you do if no one came up with Prediction 3 or 4? Did you think that Ms. Faulkner’s unit on air pressure was successful? Why or why not? In what ways could it be improved? To the extent that it was successful, what were the most critical factors in its success? For parents: If your child were a student of Ms. Faulkner, what would you want to know about the air pressure investigation? How would you want to be kept informed about your child’s participation and learning? What questions or concerns would you have?
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Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms Chapter 4 How does the idea of building on core concepts over longer periods of time differ from the science practice you currently use in your classroom or school? What do you see as the benefits and challenges to teaching this way? In the Mystery Box case study, what are some of the ways that Ms. Winter helped prepare her students for science learning in later grades? As a teacher, what ideas would you have for adapting a single science unit to fulfill both short-term and long-term goals in a learning progression? What common threads do you see across the three case studies described in this chapter? Chapter 5 Tape record a science lesson and listen for the nature and quality of talk that occurs. Is there evidence of an I-R-E recitation pattern? What is the balance of talk between teacher and students? Do some students talk more than others? Is there evidence of talk moves described in this chapter? How is student reasoning made public and visible? What are the unique features of position-driven discussion? How does this differ from typical forms of classroom discussion? What are the benefits of position-driven discussion for science learning? What are some of the ways that you make your students’ ideas public in your classroom or school? Why is it so important to distinguish between scientific argumentation and everyday argumentation? What do you think the main differences are between the two? What methods does Ms. Carter use to encourage talk and argument and support scientific thinking? How does she include all of her students in the conversation? Are her methods successful? Chapter 6 Choose two units of study in a specific grade level in your school. Examine the teacher materials and student texts for evidence that modeling and representation are taught. Are children asked to develop models and representations (conceptual, mathematical, graphical, etc.) of scientific phenomena? What
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Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms questions are children trying to answer in developing models? Are they given extensive, repeated opportunities to scrutinize, critique, and improve on their own models and representations of scientific phenomena? What could you do to improve instruction in modeling and representation? For principals and professional development staff: prearrange with teachers to visit every classroom in your school during a science lesson. Observe the lessons for evidence of the metacognitive roles of both students and teachers, as set forth in the table of Sr. Gertrude Hennessey’s findings. How does what you observe in the practices of teachers and students across the grades in your school compare with Sr. Hennessey’s findings? Encourage faculty to examine their own classrooms and compare notes with colleagues across the grades in your school. Chapter 7 Choose an exemplary unit in your school or district K-8 science curriculum. Are children asked to work on scientific problems over time? Do problems satisfy the dual definition of “meaningful” in this chapter? If so, how? If not, what can be done to improve the problems and students’ ability to see them as meaningful? For teachers, science specialists, or principals: observe students engaged in scientific discussion or explanations. Do you see evidence of the claim-evidence-reasoning framework described in this chapter? How might current practice be adapted to make better use of this framework? How does scripting student roles help support more equitable participation in the classroom? What are some of the other methods described in this book that help support equitable participation? Chapter 8 Whose responsibility is it to make sure that the teachers have a good science curriculum? Whose responsibility is it to make sure that the teachers have time built into their days to participate in study groups or professional development opportunities? What specific roles should teachers, principals, professional development staff, and assessment professionals play in creating and refining science curriculum?
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Ready, Set, Science!: Putting Research to Work in K-8 Science Classrooms What are some immediate steps you can take to improve science teaching in your district, school, or classroom? What can you do individually? Who can you partner with to work more broadly? In what ways are assessment, curriculum, instructional practices, and opportunities for teacher learning aligned in your school or district? What shortcomings do you observe in this respect? What are the hurdles to improving alignment? What are the challenges and possibilities in your school or district for supporting teachers’ ongoing learning with colleagues, focusing on the science content they are expected to teach?