See Related: Science Addressing NGSS
  1. Jessica Thompson
  2. Associate Professor
  3. Learning Labs: Using Videos, Exemplary STEM Instruction and Online Teacher Collaboration to Enhance K-2 Mathematics and Science Practice and Classroom Discourse
  4. https://ambitiousscienceteaching.org/
  5. University of Washington
  1. Mary Margaret Welch
  2. K-12 Science Program Manager
  3. Learning Labs: Using Videos, Exemplary STEM Instruction and Online Teacher Collaboration to Enhance K-2 Mathematics and Science Practice and Classroom Discourse
  4. https://ambitiousscienceteaching.org/
  5. Seattle Public Schools
  1. Jennifer Richards
  2. Research Scientist
  3. Learning Labs: Using Videos, Exemplary STEM Instruction and Online Teacher Collaboration to Enhance K-2 Mathematics and Science Practice and Classroom Discourse
  4. https://ambitiousscienceteaching.org/
  5. University of Washington College of Education
  1. Soo-Yean Shim
  2. Doctoral Student
  3. Learning Labs: Using Videos, Exemplary STEM Instruction and Online Teacher Collaboration to Enhance K-2 Mathematics and Science Practice and Classroom Discourse
  4. https://ambitiousscienceteaching.org/
  5. University of Washington College of Education
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Barbara Berns

    Barbara Berns

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 02:39 p.m.

    Wonderful video and description of your work. It's great to see Jessica's continuing portfolio!

    I'm really interesting in how you developed the idea of "launch units" and what kind of PD were teachers involved in. Has sharing videos been the major PD strategy?

  • Icon for: Jessica Thompson

    Jessica Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 10:47 a.m.

    Thanks Barbara! We adapted units that were intended to be taught over 2 months, reducing them down to 4 weeks. Each week focused on a different science teaching practice (eliciting student's hypotheses, making sense of activities, and developing evidence-based explanations). Specific tools were built into the lessons for teacher to try. PD for lead teachers involved a summer academy where leads, researchers and district coaches taught the mini-unit at a community center. PD for 450 teachers included a 1 day summer PD followed by 4 regional in-person meetings where we analyzed samples of student work and made decisions about which lessons to teach next (the curriculum offered different pathways for teachers to take, based on how students were reasoning). Lead teachers and teachers posted video to the the Teaching Channel Team platform each week. Some groups were more productive than others and in hindsight we wish we would have had teachers share video in larger teams, more like a Facebook feed as we only needed a few examples each week (not one from all teachers). 

  • Icon for: Rachel Shefner

    Rachel Shefner

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 21, 2018 | 06:45 p.m.

    I loved the video, and I am really interested in your reply as it describes the PD experiences themselves. First that you are looking at student work to inform what to teach next, and second that there are different pathways that teachers can take. Teachers need a great deal of support as to how to make these instructional decisions and that is not always included in PD that encourages teachers to use innovative teaching strategies. That "what next?" moment after looking at student work can be very daunting. Can you share any additional information on those different pathways? How many pathways are fleshed out? How did you develop these?

  • Icon for: Courtney Tanenbaum

    Courtney Tanenbaum

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 09:06 a.m.

    I very much enjoyed learning about your project, and I am pleased to see the emphasis on early elementary students and teachers! How are you evaluating the impact of your work on teachers and students? Also, I know elementary teachers have a lot on their plates! Was it hard to work with them and/or the school principals to ensure time was scheduled within the day for these science learning activities? Were there any effective practices or strategies that were used to promote the integration of science learning into other subject areas?

  • Icon for: Jessica Thompson

    Jessica Thompson

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:35 p.m.

    Thanks for the question. We are examining: 1) how teachers interact with one another in person and on-line 2) how they interact with their students (by looking a video of teacher's interactions with students, and the types of questions they ask), 3) K-5 students' pre and post scientific models (model templates are provided with the mini-units), 4) the relationship between different elements of the PD model and how teachers engage in conversations about students' capabilities, scientific reasoning, and instructional strategies, and 5) surveys and interviews of teacher participation, including self-reports of shifts in practice. 

    We are working in partnership with district level role actors who negotiated with principals. In general, principals were  supportive of the work, but it helped that teachers expressed an overwhelming desire to participate. Science has not been a central focus for a while at the elementary level, and teachers were excited to have new instructional strategies, tools and curriculum. 

    Elementary teachers wear many hats, for sure. We ran into some challenges with time commitments due to a simultaneous literacy adoption. This caused some attrition. However, the majority of the teachers who continued could draw links between literacy and science PD. By design we had developed the units to support reading informational texts and writing evidence-based explanations. Teachers shared some of their novel connections during our in-person PD.

     
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    Courtney Tanenbaum
  • Icon for: Courtney Tanenbaum

    Courtney Tanenbaum

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 07:58 a.m.

    Thank you! Very helpful to learn more about what you are examining and how you are collecting the data. I love that the teachers themselves really helped push this project along and get buy-in from their principals. There is a misperception that elementary teachers aren't interested in teaching science, and what you shared here shows that is not the case!

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 07:56 p.m.

    We were blown away by the response!

  • Icon for: Kelly Riedinger

    Kelly Riedinger

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 08:06 p.m.

    Thank you for explaining what you are exploring in the evaluation/research. I was really interested in hearing more about the interactions you are studying: What kind of things do you look for when you examine the interactions between teachers (1) and students (2) and what are you learning about those interactions? And, what are you learning about how the different elements of the PD model influence those interactions and conversations? 

  • Icon for: Soo-Yean Shim

    Soo-Yean Shim

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 06:57 p.m.

    Hi, Kelly! Thank you for this question.

    Please see our responses below.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 07:55 p.m.

    Hi Kelly!  In teacher-student interactions, we are considering patterns between different questioning approaches and the nature of students' contributions.  One thing that we're seeing is that orienting those interactions around students' initial models seems to spark two main approaches -- either inviting students broadly to tell about their thinking on their models, or diving into particular aspects of their models (e.g., "I see you have a squiggly line above the puddle there -- what does that mean?"). Something that's interesting to me is that models seem to afford the latter questioning approach in ways that other discussions in science don't, since there is a concrete object to start with/interact around. And these questioning approaches seem to have different affordances or tradeoffs for students. Students' responses to broader invitations often take the whole model into account, animating how different pieces of the model are connected (so important for complex phenomena!). For some students, though, they're not sure where to start with a broader invitation. More specific questions seem to help these students get started and enable teachers to dig into how deeply students are thinking about particular concepts. 

    One thing that we do discuss together in the PD is how explanatory modeling of complex phenomena involves thinking about both dynamics and interactions among entities as well as particular mechanisms, which are sort of reflected in the two questioning approaches. It seems like coordinating these emphases and approaches, in ways that are responsive to/supportive of specific students, is key! 

     

     
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    Courtney Tanenbaum
  • Icon for: Soo-Yean Shim

    Soo-Yean Shim

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 01:58 a.m.

    Hi, Kelly!

    To build on Jen (Jennifer)'s comment-

    During the whole PD, we emphasized that it is important to elicit students' initial and ongoing ideas/thoughts and help students actively build on those to explain real-world phenomena. We also spent a significant amount of time with teachers on analyzing and discussing their students' ideas, models, and explanations- to build the culture of valuing students' ideas. We asked the teachers to spend the entire 1-2 lessons on eliciting students' ideas and explore how students revise their ideas over the course of the unit. This helped the teachers really focus on hearing and probing students' ideas and reasoning in the interactions rather than evaluating or correcting students' ideas or misconceptions right away.

  • Icon for: Courtney Tanenbaum

    Courtney Tanenbaum

    Facilitator
    May 21, 2018 | 12:13 p.m.

    I found your emphasis on developing a culture among teachers of valuing students' ideas. Was this hard for teachers to do? Have you found that they themselves are enjoying their work more, or that they are seeing any specific benefits of refocusing their instruction in this way?

  • Small default profile

    Jessica Bleiler

    K-12 Teacher
    May 16, 2018 | 09:04 p.m.

    NGSS's aim for questioning deeply and understanding science through opportunities in learning is a push in the right direction. Children need to have the opportunity to explore and examine. This program focuses nicely on the ways students learn. What other experiments or investigations has some of the classrooms explored?

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 09:12 p.m.

    Hi Jessica!  Totally agreed -- K-2 classes had opportunities to conduct a range of experiments in part based on what students' developing hypotheses and questions were.  There were different naturalistic investigations (e.g., comparing rates of "disappearance" of a puddle on grass vs. on sidewalk and reasoning about why they are different and what that means for where the water goes) and other experiments and demos that dug into evaporation, cloud formation, how water moves through different earth materials, etc.  What grade(s) do you teach?

  • Icon for: Soo-Yean Shim

    Soo-Yean Shim

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 01:29 a.m.

    Hi, Jessica! Yes, we agree- the opportunities for students to ask questions about the real-world phenomena and explore to answer those questions seemed critical for their engagement and learning.

    Here are some descriptions of the investigations/experiments that K-2 students engaged in to answer a real-world question, which was "Where does a puddle come from? And where does it go?" (This post is to elaborate on Jen (Jennifer)'s comment about the experiments- )

    What was most important was that each of these experiments was coupled with a set of read-aloud activities, discussions, and student modeling to support students' reasoning about both observable and unobservable processes to explain the observations/phenomena-- so that the investigations could help students' sense-making of the world rather than merely providing some fun hands-on experiences. 

    (1) Observation of puddles- students compared rates of disapperance of a puddle on grass vs. on sidewalk or a puddle in wet soil, dry soil, and no soil,

    (2) Evaporation- students watched videos of water in the room temperature vs. boiling water and made observations,

    (3) Making clouds- "cloud in a bottle" experiment, the teacher put warm water into a bottle, put some match smoke in the bottle, screwed on the cap, squeezed the bottle and released- repeated the process without the match smoke- students made observations,

    (4) Earth materials- students made the same amount of water flow through different combinations of earth materials (rocks, sand, soil, pebbles, etc.) and measured how long it took for each combination-

     
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    Jennifer Richards
    Kelsey Lipsitz
  • Icon for: Lucy Davies

    Lucy Davies

    Undergraduate Student
    May 17, 2018 | 08:50 p.m.

    I thought is was amazing that so many teachers were able to communicate effectively and be able to implement the NGSS in all classrooms. I found your approach to engaging the students to question the world helped them to connect it to their personal lives and made it meaningful for each child. It is important to have a strong understanding of science for elementary students because they sometimes lack the interest or teachers find themselves with less time to experiment with the students due to emphasis on English and Math. Did you find it difficult to make time in the day for science and implementing the experiments? Now that these schools and teachers have made science an important time of the day, will you work towards implementing the other subjects of STEM such as technology and engineering?

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 03:34 p.m.

    Hi Lucy!  You're raising really important points -- we feel fortunate to work on these topics and co-learn with teacher colleagues within a system that intentionally seeks to carve out time and support for science starting in K.  Time is part of why we collectively organized around mini-units, and had several weeks between professional touchpoints so classrooms across the district could try on particular lessons before we came back together to discuss and co-plan next steps.  I think deeper integration of other STEM subjects could be an interesting next step!

  • Icon for: Kelsey Lipsitz

    Kelsey Lipsitz

    May 18, 2018 | 02:41 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your work! These seem like wonderful units. I've recently had some interesting conversations about how to use the crosscutting concepts in meaningful ways -- for example, as a means of making sense of content and supporting explanations. Have you been able to use crosscutting concepts in your work with teachers, and have teachers been able to incorporate those in meaningful ways?

  • Icon for: Soo-Yean Shim

    Soo-Yean Shim

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 06:55 p.m.

    Hi, Kelsey!! Thanks for this question.

    Throughout the unit, we encouraged teachers to analyze their students' models and think about ways to help students develop their explanations further. We provided teachers with some materials to help them recognize and pursue some relevant crosscutting concepts when they analyze their students' work. For example, we provided some content primers for teachers to think about causal relationships (cause and effect) that can be included in the explanations of the phenomena. We provided a checklist tool that teachers could use to explore scientific principles of concepts in students’ models/explanations. The principles included science ideas related to energy and matter, stability and change, etc. But your question made me think that we could plan to be more explicit about crosscutting concepts when we discuss ideas and models with teachers in the future. Thank you for this question and perspective, Kelsey.

     

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 03:37 p.m.

    Agreed!  A second-grade teacher we've partnered with focuses pretty intentionally on crosscutting concepts and invites students to keep track of where they see them coming up across science lessons, which seems like a meaningful way to truly position and work with them as "crosscutting."

  • Icon for: Kathryn Lewis

    Kathryn Lewis

    K-12 Administrator
    May 19, 2018 | 12:39 a.m.

    Thank you for sharing.  Empowering learners to ask their own questions is so important!  How are you teaching teachers to help students ask deeper questions?

  • Icon for: Soo-Yean Shim

    Soo-Yean Shim

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 12:55 p.m.

    Hi, Kathryn! Thanks for the question-

    We think the following instructional practices/strategies could motivate and help students to ask deeper questions about phenomena:

    (1) Having the real-world puzzling phenomena that are closely connected to students' everyday lives --This helped students bring in their own experiences, resources, and wonderments.

    (2) Having students draw/write down their own models and explanations about the phenomena --When students were asked to explain the whole phenomena, they started to make connections among ideas and generate questions about how pieces of ideas could come together. Teachers asked probing questions to help students explain deeper.

    (3) Having students see models of one another --We had students do "gallery walk", find similarities/differences among their models and ideas, and ask questions to each other.

    (4) Making the whole-class model after individual modeling --After the initial modeling, teachers made the whole-class consensus model with students. Publicizing students’ ideas were powerful. When students suggested ideas, teachers asked other students if they agreed or disagreed and if they had any questions about the ideas. Then, teachers publicized (recorded on the class model) the ideas and questions.

    We put these instructional elements in the curriculum and the PD, and from the teachers' reflections, we could see that all of these helped teachers support their students in asking questions about the phenomena.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 03:42 p.m.

    To build on Soo-Yean's reply, in the PD we also explore the phenomena ourselves as adult learners and consider the role of our own questions both as encapsulating possible hypotheses and identifying places to dig into more deeply.  We try to frame anytime we think "Huh, that's weird..." or "I wonder..." as important intellectual work.  My hypothesis is that this may invite/empower doing the same in elementary classrooms.

  • Icon for: Kimberly Hoffman

    Kimberly Hoffman

    K-12 Teacher
    May 19, 2018 | 09:53 a.m.

    I think this is a great project and one that my school is trying to tackle on a smaller scale.  I would love to get some insight or links to your projects to help foster this program for my school if possible.  All science in the lower grades seems to stem from a phenomenon for us, are you finding that this works for you when setting up your weekly lesson/hands-on components?  

    Real-world experiences is the hook that I always strive for, but with some topics are hard to achieve.  I am interested to see if you have found creative ways to infuse these experiences in all your units of study through STEM. 

    Thank you!

  • Icon for: Jennifer Richards

    Jennifer Richards

    Co-Presenter
    May 20, 2018 | 03:48 p.m.

    Hi Kimberly -- it's exciting to hear that your school is taking a similar approach, and we'd love to share/learn!  I agree that coming up with accessible, meaningful phenomena is challenging; we have some elementary units of instruction that we've piloted available as "Tools" on our website (https://ambitiousscienceteaching.org).  I've seen that organizing units around phenomena can work well across grade levels and provides an important thru-line for weekly lessons/hands-on activities -- that we're not just doing these because they're interesting or fun, but because we had this question about this phenomenon that this lesson/activity can help us figure out!

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