January/February 2018 – Vol. 31 No. 2

Asking the Real Experts in Science Education

Posted: Saturday, January 1st, 2011

by Donna Ross

As a faculty member in the College of Education, I often find myself in a position to make teaching suggestions to preservice and inservice teachers.  Whenever possible, I try to get my ideas from the real experts.  I frequently ask K-12 students for their suggestions.  Recently, I had the opportunity to invite eight urban high school students to participate in a workshop for teachers.  I asked the students to answer two questions for the group:

  1. What is one teaching strategy or style that does NOT help you learn science?
  2. What is one teaching strategy or style that DOES help you learn science?

The only guideline I gave them was to try to avoid repeating answers.  They gave me permission to share their responses here.

NS: It doesn’t work for me when the teacher puts us in groups and each group presents one part of the chapter, but we are all supposed to learn all the parts.  I feel I only learn the part I present because not every group includes enough detail for the test.  It would be better if we were only tested on the part we present.  A style that does work for me is when we do a lab and come together to share our questions and ideas.  Then there is a lecture that clarifies our ideas and what the results mean and how to apply it.

SD: It doesn’t help me when teachers make me write down a long list of vocabulary terms and definitions and never revisit the material, so it feels like a waste of time.  Just because I wrote it down doesn’t mean I automatically learned it.  What does help is when there is repetition to help me remember the concept.  For example, we use the idea in the lab and the lecture and a game and the bellwork.  Also, if we get to figure out our own conclusions, we remember better.

NA: Reading out loud and expecting us to learn the material doesn’t work for me, especially if the teacher has different students doing the reading.  Most of the time we can’t even hear.  Even if the teacher is reading, it is hard to understand the textbook.  It feels like a waste of time.  A style that does work for me is to do the lab and then look at really short parts of the book that explain what we did in the lab.  Then the book makes more sense.

FK: It doesn’t work for me if I know more about the subject than my teacher.  I lose respect for the teacher if he or she hasn’t learned the material first.  Something that does work for me is when the teacher calls on us randomly because it keeps me focused and thinking.

SJ: Teaching the same way all the time doesn’t work for me; teachers should mix it up so we stay busy.  Not everyone learns the same way, so using lots of different styles is best.  It also helps to have a good study guide so tests are not surprises.

MF: It is hard for me to remember all the instructions when a teacher just says them once, so having them written clearly really helps.  During lectures, note-taking guides and foldables are also helpful for me.

TH: PowerPoints are not effective for me because they are usually too boring and have too much information.  Hands-on activities are better for me and anything that allows students to think and figure things out for ourselves.

NH: It is frustrating for me when we do labs where the results are obvious even without doing the lab.  It actually works for me if the teacher does a really good lecture with questions or we do a good lab where we have to figure out the results.

***

The eight students who participated come from four distinct ethnic and linguistic backgrounds and range in academic achievement, but all share a desire to be successful.  All eight of the students have slightly different preferences, but there is a consistent theme of engagement throughout all of their responses.  The more engaged the students are, the more they perceive the teaching as effective.  This personal wisdom echoes many of the findings from the research literature in science education.  Student engagement, hands-on activities, inquiry approaches, literacy supports, and well-prepared teachers all increase opportunities for meaningful learning in science classrooms.  Just ask the experts!

Donna Ross is associate professor of science education at San Diego State University and is CSTA’s 4-year college director.

Written by Donna Ross

Donna Ross is Associate Professor of Science Education at San Diego State University.

One Response

  1. “It is frustrating for me when we do labs where the results are obvious even without doing the lab.”

    Around 1929, F. W. Westaway addressed this issue in his book, Science Teaching. He termed this sort of lab as a “verification lab” and advised strongly against it. Here’s what he said.

    “Beware of verification methods. ‘Show that ferrous ammonium sulphate contains one-seventh of its own weight of iron.’ This is simply asking for the evidence to be cooked.”

    Must we repeatedly discover and rediscover what has been so well known for a century?

    Westaway goes on to say (please ignore the gender usage common a 100 years ago), “When a boy works an experiment, keep him just enough in the dark as to the probable outcome of the experiment, just enough in the attitude of a discoverer, to leave him unprejudiced in his observations.”

    This is a part of the essence of the education science lab. It doesn’t absolutely have to be hands-on, but it should not be simulated whether hands-on or not.

    Simulations belong to a different part of learning science, one that includes videos, animations, and the like.

    To read more of F. W. Westaway’s comments on teaching science, see http://smartscience.blogspot.com/2009/04/some-advice-on-teaching-science.html. I think that you’ll find the ideas to be quite modern.

    Westaway was indeed an expert on the subject having written successful books on scientific method, science teaching, and the history of science. I find his insights to be valuable.

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California Science Test Academy for Educators

Posted: Thursday, February 15th, 2018

California Science Test Academy for Educators

To support implementation of the California Science Test (CAST), the California Department of Education is partnering with Educational Testing Service and WestEd to offer a one-day CAST Academy for local educational agency (LEA) science educators, to be presented at three locations in California from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. As an alternative to traveling, LEA teams can participate virtually via WebEx on one of the dates listed below.

The dates and locations for the CAST Academy are as follows:

  • Monday, April 23, 2018—Sacramento
  • Wednesday, April 25, 2018—Fresno
  • Thursday, April 26, 2018—Irvine

The CAST Academy will help participants develop a deeper understanding of the assessment design and expectations of the CAST. The academy also will provide information and activities designed to assist educators in their implementation of the California Next Generation Science Standards and three-dimensional learning to help them gain an understanding of how these new science assessment item types can inform teaching and learning. The CAST Academy dates above are intended for school and district science instructional leaders, including teacher leaders, teacher trainers, and instructional coaches. Additional trainings will be offered at a later date specifically for county staff. In addition, curriculum, professional development, and assessment leaders would benefit from this training.

A $100 registration fee will be charged for each person attending the in-person training. Each virtual team participating via WebEx will be charged $100 for up to 10 participants through one access point. Each workshop will have the capacity to accommodate a maximum of 50 virtual teams. Each virtual team will need to designate a lead, who is responsible for organizing the group locally. Registration and payment must be completed online at http://www.cvent.com/d/6tqg8k.

For more information regarding the CAST Academy, please contact Elizabeth Dilke, Program Coordinator, Educational Testing Service, by phone at 916-403-2407 or by e‑mail at caasppworkshops@ets.org.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Accelerating into NGSS – A Statewide Rollout Series Now Accepting Registrations

Posted: Friday, January 19th, 2018

Are you feeling behind on the implementation of NGSS? Then Accelerating into NGSS – the Statewide Rollout event – is right for you!

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
If you have not experienced Phases 1-4 of the Statewide Rollout, or are feeling behind with the implementation of NGSS, the Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout will provide you with the greatest hits from Phases 1-4!

OVERVIEW
Accelerating Into NGSS Statewide Rollout is a two-day training geared toward grade K-12 academic coaches, administrators, curriculum leads, and teacher leaders. Check-in for the two-day rollout begins at 7:30 a.m., followed by a continental breakfast. Sessions run from 8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Day One and from 8:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Day Two.

Cost of training is $250 per attendee. Fee includes all materials, continental breakfast, and lunch on both days. It is recommended that districts send teams of four to six, which include at least one administrator. Payment can be made by check or credit card. If paying by check, registration is NOT complete until payment has been received. All payments must be received prior to the Rollout location date you are attending. Paying by credit card secures your seat at time of registration. No purchase orders accepted. No participant cancellation refunds.

For questions or more information, please contact Amy Kennedy at akennedy@sjcoe.net or (209) 468-9027.

REGISTER

http://bit.ly/ACCELERATINGINTONGSS

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MARCH 28-29, 2018
Host: San Mateo County Office of Education
Location: San Mateo County Office of Education, Redwood City

APRIL 10-11, 2018
Host: Orange County Office of Education
Location: Brandman University, Irvine

MAY 1-2, 2018
Host: Tulare County Office of Education
Location: Tulare County Office of Education, Visalia

MAY 3-4, 2018
Host: San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools
Location: West End Educational Service Center, Rancho Cucamonga

MAY 7-8, 2018
Host: Sacramento County Office of Education
Location: Sacramento County Office of Education Conference Center and David P. Meaney Education Center, Mather

JUNE 14-15, 2018
Host: Imperial County Office of Education
Location: Imperial Valley College, Imperial

Presented by the California Department of Education, California County Superintendents Educational Services Association/County Offices of Education, K-12 Alliance @WestEd, California Science Project, and the California Science Teachers Association.

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

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Written by NGSS Early Implementer

NGSS Early Implementer

In 2015 CSTA began to publish a series of articles written by teachers participating in the California NGSS k-8 Early Implementation Initiative. This article was written by an educator(s) participating in the initiative. CSTA thanks them for their contributions and for sharing their experience with the science teaching community.

2018 CSTA Conference Call for Proposals

Posted: Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

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Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

CSTA’s New Administrator Facebook Group Page

Posted: Monday, January 15th, 2018

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From time to time CSTA receives contributions from guest contributors. The opinions and views expressed by these contributors are not necessarily those of CSTA. By publishing these articles CSTA does not make any endorsements or statements of support of the author or their contribution, either explicit or implicit. All links to outside sources are subject to CSTA’s Disclaimer Policy: http://www.classroomscience.org/disclaimer.