May/June 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 7

Supporting Partnerships Between Informal and Formal Educators

Posted: Thursday, September 1st, 2011

by Grahme Smith

The current trend among informal education centers is to transition from passive “dispensers of information” into dynamic places that encourage active learning. The goal is to create an exchange of ideas between these Institutions and the public so that the learning is more engaging and relevant for everyone. In an age where information is only a click away, more emphasis needs to be put on self-discovery and experiential learning. This same trend, in which students gain knowledge from their own experiences and ideas, is happening in formal classrooms as well. While students still need to learn basic concepts and facts, it is more important that they are able to reason, problem solve, and come to their own informed conclusions. By supporting and empowering students to take control of their own learning, they become more invested in the material. When the content is relevant and personal to them, they gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the issues. The same is true in any profession. A chef is more proud of a recipe she creates than the one taken from a cookbook, just as we are more proud of the partnerships and lessons we develop than the ones we are told to implement. I would like to use this space to foster a dialog between formal and informal educators so that we can better understand each other and can be empowered to form authentic partnerships.


When I taught high school, I saw informal institutions as places to take my students to on field trips and places for me to take workshops. While these were both great experiences, I felt a barrier or lack of communication between informal and formal educators. I rarely felt like I was a true partner with, or a peer, of these Institutions and therefore was never invested in what they were doing.

Advertisement

National Science Teachers Association

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My goal with this column is to pose a question monthly that will support an ongoing dialog between formal and informal educators. I encourage you to share your experiences, thoughts and ideas so we can better understand each other, develop lasting relationships, and create partnerships that will help enhance science education. As budgets are cut and less and less priority is given to science, there is ever growing need for us to work in collaboration. These discussions alone aren’t going to knock down any barriers, but they are small steps towards supporting a dialog between all educators and developing the synergy necessary to improve California’s science education.

This month I’ll start by asking you when you’ve seen, or been a part of, a successful collaboration between formal and informal educators. Please explain what you think were the key components in fostering this relationship.

Grahme Smith is manager at the Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences and CSTA’s informal science director.

 

Written by Grahme Smith

Grahme Smith is manager at the Teacher Institute on Science and Sustainability at the California Academy of Sciences and CSTA’s informal science director (2011-2013.

2 Responses

  1. Castle Challenger Learning Center in Atwater, CA, Merced Co Office of Education, and Merced County fifth and eighth grade teachers have partnered to teach structured inquiry lessons using the GEMS Space Sciences Program followed by a trip to CLC for a simulated mission to study Comet Halley (5th) or Mars (8th). This is funded by a five year NASA grant. Accountability is maintained through pre and post tests taken by both teachers and students. About 45 teachers are participating in ten school districts.

  2. Thanks Susan and I have a question- Did the teachers have input on the development of the curriculum or were they just trained how to implement it? If they did have input, what did that look like? How did they collaborate?

Leave a Reply

LATEST POST

CSTA Annual Conference Early Bird Rates End July 14

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

Teachers engaged in workshop activity

Teachers engaging in hands-on learning during a workshop at the 2016 CSTA conference.

Don’t miss your chance to register at the early bird rate for the 2017 CSTA Conference – the early-bird rate closes July 14. Need ideas on how to secure funding for your participation? Visit our website for suggestions, a budget planning tool, and downloadable justification letter to share with your admin. Want to take advantage of the early rate – but know your district will pay eventually? Register online today and CSTA will reimburse you when we receive payment from your district/employer. (For more information on how that works contact Zi Stair in the office for details – 916-979-7004 or zi@cascience.org.)

New Information Now Available On-line:

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.

Goodbye Outgoing and Welcome Incoming CSTA Board Members

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

Jill Grace

Jill Grace, CSTA President, 2017-2019

On July 1, 2017 five CSTA members concluded their service and four new board members joined the ranks of the CSTA Board of Directors. CSTA is so grateful for all the volunteer board of directors who contribute hours upon hours of time and energy to advance the work of the association. At the June 3 board meeting, CSTA was able to say goodbye to the outgoing board members and welcome the incoming members.

This new year also brings with it a new president for CSTA. As of July 1, 2017 Jill Grace is the president of the California Science Teachers Association. Jill is a graduate of California State University, Long Beach, a former middle school science teacher, and is currently a Regional Director with the K-12 Alliance @ WestEd where she works with California NGSS K-8 Early Implementation Initiative districts and charter networks in the San Diego area.

Outgoing Board Members

  • Laura Henriques (President-Elect: 2011 – 2013, President: 2013 – 2015, Past President: 2015 – 2017)
  • Valerie Joyner (Region 1 Director: 2009 – 2013, Primary Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Mary Whaley (Informal Science Education Director: 2013 – 2017)
  • Sue Campbell (Middle School/Jr. High Director: 2015 – 2017)
  • Marcus Tessier (2-Year College Director: 2015 – 2017)

Learn More…

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.

Finding My Student’s Motivation of Learning Through Engineering Tasks

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Huda Ali Gubary and Susheela Nath

It’s 8:02 and the bell rings. My students’ walk in and pick up an entry ticket based on yesterday’s lesson and homework. My countdown starts for students to begin…3, 2, 1. Ten students are on task and diligently completing the work, twenty are off task with behaviors ranging from talking up a storm with their neighbors to silently staring off into space. This was the start of my classes, more often than not. My students rarely showed the enthusiasm for a class that I had eagerly prepared for. I spent so much time searching for ways to get my students excited about the concepts they were learning. I wanted them to feel a connection to the lessons and come into my class motivated about what they were going to learn next. I would ask myself how I could make my class memorable where the kids were in the driver’s seat of learning. Incorporating engineering made this possible. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

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.

State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Unveils Updated Recommended Literature List

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson unveiled an addition of 285 award-winning titles to the Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list.

“The books our students read help broaden their perspectives, enhance their knowledge, and fire their imaginations,” Torlakson said. “The addition of these award-winning titles represents the state’s continued commitment to the interests and engagement of California’s young readers.”

The Recommended Literature: Prekindergarten Through Grade Twelve list is a collection of more than 8,000 titles of recommended reading for children and adolescents. Reflecting contemporary and classic titles, including California authors, this online list provides an exciting range of literature that students should be reading at school and for pleasure. Works include fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama to provide for a variety of tastes, interests, and abilities. Learn More…

Written by Guest Contributor

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.

Teaching Science in the Time of Alternative Facts – Why NGSS Can Help (somewhat)

Posted: Wednesday, July 12th, 2017

by Peter A’Hearn

The father of one of my students gave me a book: In the Beginning: Compelling Evidence for Creation and the Flood by Walt Brown, Ph. D. He had heard that I was teaching Plate Tectonics and wanted me to consider another perspective. The book offered the idea that the evidence for plate tectonics could be better understood if we considered the idea that beneath the continent of Pangaea was a huge underground layer of water that suddenly burst forth from a rift between the now continents of Africa and South America. The waters shot up and the continents hydroplaned apart on the water layer to their current positions. The force of the movement pushed up great mountain ranges which are still settling to this day, resulting in earthquakes along the margins of continents. This had happened about 6,000 years ago and created a great worldwide flood. Learn More…

Powered By DT Author Box

Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the Region 4 Director for CSTA.