1. Patrick Smith
  2. http://www.horizon-research.com/about-hri/staff/patrick-sean-smith
  3. President
  4. Knowledge Assets to Support the Science Instruction of Elementary Teachers (ASSET)
  5. Horizon Research Inc.
  1. Keith Esch
  2. http://www.horizon-research.com/about-hri/staff/r-keith-esch
  3. Research Associate
  4. Knowledge Assets to Support the Science Instruction of Elementary Teachers (ASSET)
  5. Horizon Research Inc.
  1. Meredith Hayes
  2. http://www.horizon-research.com/about-hri/staff/meredith-l-hayes
  3. Research Associate
  4. Knowledge Assets to Support the Science Instruction of Elementary Teachers (ASSET)
  5. Horizon Research Inc.
  1. Courtney Plumley
  2. Research Associate
  3. Knowledge Assets to Support the Science Instruction of Elementary Teachers (ASSET)
  4. Horizon Research Inc.
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 06:57 p.m.

    Thank you for watching our video!  In ASSET, we’re trying to make pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) available to elementary teachers by weaving it into instructional materials.  In our video, we make three claims.

    1. First, we believe all teachers have PCK, but we also believe PCK exists outside of teachers, much like knowledge about the natural world exists in books. We and others call this kind of PCK “canonical PCK,” and we’re curious what you think of that idea.  Does canonical PCK exist?  If so, do you have examples?
    2. Second, we claim that teachers’ access to canonical PCK is limited because (1) much of it is in research journals and (2) no one has organized the knowledge in a way that teachers can easily use it. Do you agree that teachers have limited access to canonical PCK?  If so, what do you think of our reasons?  If not, how have you seen teachers access and use canonical PCK?
    3. Finally, we claim that weaving canonical PCK into instructional materials is a good way to give teachers access. What do you think?  Have you seen more effective ways of making canonical PCK accessible to teachers?  (You can explore our resources for the Small Particle Model of Matter and Interdependence.)

     

    Please respond to any or all of our claims.  We look forward to your thoughts!

     

    The ASSET Team

  • Icon for: Jonathan Margolin

    Jonathan Margolin

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 02:40 p.m.

    You are very welcome, ASSET Team--the video was very engaging, and your intervention seemed to me to be an elegant solution for how to give teachers access to PCK. I am wondering--have you observed any variations in the implementation of these materials that suggest that they are more compatible with certain types of teachers, topics, or instructional strategies?

  • Icon for: Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 04:43 p.m.

    Jonathan, thank you for the question.  Teachers are currently piloting the materials, but they're located across the country, and we've been able to observe only two. 

     

    Our materials are based on driving questions, so students are trying to make sense of a phenomenon through carefully sequenced activities.  Our sense is that the more experience teachers have had with this strategy, the more easily they take up our materials.  

  • Icon for: Sally Crissman

    Sally Crissman

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 10:45 p.m.

     Hi Patrick, Agree that PCK exists inside and outside but that teachers benefit from having access to a synthesis of research findings. Also, agree that weaving PCK into classroom activities is an effective strategy. My hunch is that the closer to the classroom activities, the more helpful the information and some examples of where the stumbling blocks are likely to appear.

    I'll respond to your third question: The Inquiry Project is a 3 year curricular sequence that drives toward an understanding of the particle model of matter. It's important that teachers know what non-canonical "typical" ideas about matter that are likely to appear "Don't be surprised if ..." We embedded some of the research findings throughout the Teacher Guide and also included paired essays The Scientist and the Child written for teachers to describe typical gaps. For example, evidence for matter being composed of particles with space (what, there's NOTHING between the particles?) is more accessible and convincing in the context of the behavior of gases. But what if students don't thing air is matter? Given experience with the properties of matter, they collect evidence air is indeed matter, and go on to work with a particle model to explain behavior. 

    I look forward to hearing of the feedback from teachers trying out your materials. Making relevant research findings more accessible to teachers is work well-done.

    Sally

     

  • Icon for: Keith Esch

    Keith Esch

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 11:19 a.m.

    Thanks for your comments about increasing teacher access to PCK.  We share your hunch that the utility of PCK depends on its alignment with actual classroom instruction.  In fact, that idea played a motivating role in our approach with the ASSET instructional materials, incorporating PCK activity-by-activity.  We also think that increased awareness of relevant PCK will cause changes in classroom instruction (e.g., more student investigation of phenomena).  So, aligning PCK with classroom instruction will need to be ongoing to provide the maximum benefit to teachers. 

    Your example addressing “NOTHING” between the particles beautifully illustrates the importance of teachers having access to “typical” student thinking.  Your description highlights how access to this kind of PCK can provide a powerful rationale for sequencing instruction in particular ways (e.g., evidence for properties of matter informs construction of particle model) that are likely to be more effective.

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 17, 2018 | 05:42 a.m.

    Nice presentation.  I agree with Sally that this is good work to do, and am interested in the teachers' comments.  It seems to me that the big shift really entails teachers' growing capacity to listen to and think about students' ideas, and the research literature can help — as it does (in the best cases) for researchers themselves!  Three other thoughts:

    • How do you make sure that this fundamental point is not overwhelmed by the idea that a teacher has to learn another whole body of content (the canonical material) -- sort of analogous to teachers learning about inquiry rather than being able to enact it?

    • the sample materials look useful and appealing, and I like the approach you're taking of  producing small, individual pieces, which can act as windows into a way of thinking for the teachers.

    • (You don't need to reply to  this one!!) I have never been convinced that PCK is a separate kind or body of knowledge. It's analogous to saying that a fly-fisherman has angling content knowledge, which is not about methods, or about fish, or about rivers, or mayflies.   It's all those things, in an enactment in the moment, with certain characteristics of attention and judgment.  

  • Icon for: Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith

    Lead Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 11:06 a.m.

    Bryan, thank you for your thoughtful comments.  I completely agree that for canonical PCK to be useful, teachers’ mindsets may need to shift toward more carefully attending to student thinking.  That seems obvious, yet our teacher interviews and survey responses suggest this shift is needed.  For example, we asked teachers about the approaches they use to find out what students think about a topic before they begin studying it.  Many responded that they don’t use such approaches, and many others described approaches that seemed unlikely to reveal student thinking about the topic at hand.

     

    Regarding your point about teachers needing to learn the canonical science (I hope I’m interpreting your point correctly), I actually do think teachers need that deep understanding if they are to shape their instruction around student thinking.  In my experience (both firsthand and observing others’ teaching), organizing a meaningful sequence of experiences that responds to and leverages student thinking requires deep understanding of content AND of student thinking about the content.

     

    Thank you for letting me off the hook on your last point, but I can’t resist.  I agree that disentangling PCK from content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge is difficult if not impossible.  I think Shulman realized that in describing PCK as an amalgam of the two constituent knowledge bases.  I also think attempts to measure PCK (our own and others’) bear out this point.

  • Icon for: Brian Drayton

    Brian Drayton

    Researcher
    May 18, 2018 | 04:44 a.m.

    I 100% agree that teachers need as deep an understanding of the science as possible, and also some help in figuring out how to deploy their understanding for students  — one reason why good curriculum materials are so important, since they can (if the developers are awake to this) help the teachers see one good way to meet the challenge.  

       As for the last point, which you graciously took up --I have been bothered by the tendency to reify PCK, and thereafter creating metrics and products to package "it".  I tend to think of it as related to a teacher's way of knowing (which like all our knowing is a situated re-construction).  You might be amused by a little piece I wrote to wrestle with this idea... 

    I look forward to hearing more about the project!

    -- brian 

  • Icon for: Margo Murphy

    Margo Murphy

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2018 | 06:06 a.m.

    I really appreciate the seamless integration of PCK into materials.  I am a classroom teacher and finding the time to build units that are based on what we know about how people learn, are engaging, meaningful, etc is a huge challenge. That is why teachers spend so much time hunting and cobbling together what they can find online.  This is a less than ideal situation but it is what teachers have time for when they are trying to address curricular needs.  I am excited to know there are projects like yours out there.  I am not sure all teachers really understand PCK.  There is such variation in teacher prep programs.  I am curious to know what is the entry point for teachers into your "portal"?  In other words is there some sort of online training/ tutorials that support what makes ASSET materials different with embedded PCK?  How publicly will these resources be or is the plan to make them commercially available?    

  • Icon for: Meredith Hayes

    Meredith Hayes

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 11:06 a.m.

    Margo, thank you very much for your comments and questions.  We agree that creating a coherent curriculum is quite time consuming and that teachers generally lack sufficient time for that work.  We’re encouraged to hear that, as a teacher, you find our approach of embedding PCK to be useful, and hope that it may be a model for others who develop instructional materials and support teachers.  

    Regarding an entry point, the home page of our website currently includes a brief video to orient pilot teachers to the structure and content of the site, describing how knowledge collected from research and practitioners is embedded in the materials.  At this time, the video does not include information about what PCK is, but that’s an interesting point to consider.

    In terms of access, after making revisions based on pilot teacher feedback, we plan to open the site to the public at no cost.

     
    1
    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Margo Murphy
  • Icon for: Sally Crissman

    Sally Crissman

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2018 | 10:33 a.m.

    I was thinking about how you are measuring impact. As I understand it, you are collecting (and analyzing) responses to prompts in the materials you are testing. Is this the case? How big a sample have you been able to work with?

    Sally

  • Icon for: Patrick Smith

    Patrick Smith

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 10:30 a.m.

    Sally, we're piloting our resources with 14 teachers across the two topics, and each of those teachers has at least 20 students.  We have pre- and post-unit responses for all of those students.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.