Michaels, Sarah, Shouse, Andrew W., Schweingruber, Heidi A.. "2 Four Strands of 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
knowledge and explanations of the natural world as they generate and interpret evidence. At the same time, they come to understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge while participating in science as a social process.
The diverse group of professionals who collectively build and support children’s science learning can draw from the strands in important ways. At the classroom level the individual teacher can analyze the resources at her disposal—the textbooks, trade books, science kits, and assessment instruments—and begin to consider how they support the strands. It is likely that many of these resources will provide uneven or incomplete support for some important aspects of the strands. Some teachers may be well positioned to enhance the available resources by consulting the literature or connecting with local professional development opportunities. For many others, though, it won’t be that easy. Despite her strong science background, Ms. Fredericks struggled in the classroom and ultimately found support through an informal network of colleagues who invested time and energy in helping her learn to teach science.
While teacher-initiated activity like that of Ms. Fredericks and her colleagues is essential to meaningful change in K-8 science, it is not enough. School- and district-level science curriculum professionals, as well as professional development opportunities, instructional supervision, and assessment, must all play a part if meaningful change is to occur. Like the classroom teacher, educators at the school and district levels must examine the resources at their disposal, including teacher training materials, district curriculum guides, and materials adoption processes. They can examine, critique, and refine these resources to reflect the strands. They can scrutinize the professional learning opportunities available to teachers through the school system, local universities, science centers, and other vendors to identify ways to advance teachers’ understanding of the strands.
The strands offer a common basis for planning, reflecting on, and improving science education. The coming chapters will show that the educator who hopes to integrate the strands into his science curriculum has a lot in common with his students. Educators, researchers, administrators, and policy makers will all have to find ways to advance their own understanding and provide support to one another as they explore and integrate this new model of what it means for children to understand and participate in science.