ED 401: Teaching Elementary School Science

Call Number:  49499

Monday 6:00-8:45 PM

2101 Sangren Hall

Fall - 2004


I. General Information



Marcia Fetters
Western Michigan University

2438 Sangren Hall

Kalamazoo, MI  49008

Phone:  269/387-3538

FAX:  269/387-2882

       e-mail:  marcia.fetters@wmich.edu

Homepage:  http://homepages.wmich.edu/~mfetters



Office Hours

Monday /Tuesday 1:30-3:00

Additional hours by appointment.




Required readings


v    National Research Council (2001) Classroom Assessments and the National Science Education Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

v    National Research Council (2000) Inquiry and the National Science Standards Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

v    Kwan, T., Texley, J., (2003) Exploring Safely:  A guide for elementary school teachers Arlington, VA, NSTA Press:

v    Michigan Curriculum Framework available at:;  http://cdp.mde.state.mi.us/MCF/

v    MICLiMB available at: http://www.miclimb.net/

v    Teaching strategies for inclusive science classrooms http://www.enc.org/features/focus/archive/special/resources_v10n2/inclusive/

v    Additional reading will be provided.



Texley, J., Kwan, T.. (2003) Investigating Safely:  A guide for middle school teachers Arlington, VA, NSTA Press

 National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Or available on-line at: http://www.nap.edu/books/0309053269/html/index.html



II. Course Goals

            Soon you will be preparing to take over science classes of your own.  You will be responsible for the well being and the learning of the students in those classes.  One of the goals of this course is to prepare you for those responsibilities.  No one will expect you to be an accomplished professional--that will take years--but I hope that you will be a “well-started beginner,” prepared to learn from your experiences as an learner and teacher and from your work other colleagues, cooperating teachers, and members of The Western Michigan University faculty.  There is a lot that you will have to learn to become a well-started beginner.  Some of that learning is discussed below.


Beginning your apprenticeship in the activities of teaching

            You will spend a lot of time during the coming year practicing--with help and guidance--activities that you will engage in as a teacher, and that means a lot more than just teaching classes.  As you already know from previous courses, teaching is a more complex profession than it appears to be when you are a student.  Even if we limit the discussion (as we will for now) to just what teachers have to do to carry out classroom instruction, there are two factors that make learning to teach difficult and complex.  First, you must learn about all of the activities that a teacher engages in as he or she plans, carries out, and follows up on lessons.  Second, you will have to prepare for the number and diversity of the students that you will teach.


Preparing for all the activities of teaching:  Comprehension, transformation, instruction, evaluation, reflection. 

            Much of the work that teachers do occurs before or after their students are in the classroom, while they are preparing to teach, grading papers, or reflecting on the lessons that they have taught.  During the coming year you will have opportunities to practice all of those activities, by themselves and in combination.  In this course, we will describe those activities using the terminology of Suzanne Wilson and Lee Shulman, who describe teaching as a cyclical process involving five steps:

1. Comprehension.  The first activity involves understanding the content and the students that you will be teaching.  Neither of these kinds of understanding is easy to achieve.  The content understanding that you need for teaching is deeper and more complex than the understanding you need when you are just taking courses, and your students will have many complex and interesting ideas that can both aid and interfere with their learning. 

2. Transformation.  The second activity is planning what you will do in the classroom.  This involves transforming the content into forms that will make it understandable, interesting, and meaningful for your students, as well as helping your students to master the language and practices of science.

3. Instruction.  The third activity, instruction, is the one that you are most familiar with from your experience as a student.  Beneath the surface activities, though, instruction has a “hidden structure” that is more cyclical than linear, and that you must master in order to promote your students’ engagement and understanding.

4. Evaluation.  The fourth activity includes giving tests and assigning grades, but it includes a lot more, too.  There are many different ways to assess what your students understand and how their understanding is changing.  You need this information as much to evaluate your own teaching as to assign grades to your students.

5. Reflection.  In the long run, your quality as a teacher will depend not so much on what we teach you in this course as on your ability to learn from experience; learning from experience depends on the reflection that you do before, during, and after you teach.  If you do it well, reflection leads to new and deeper comprehension, and you are ready to begin the cycle again, doing all the activities better than you did before.


Preparing for the number and diversity of your students. 

            Teaching is made more complicated--and more interesting--by the fact that you are responsible for a lot of students, and by the fact that those students are different, from each other and from you, in many ways.  How can you teach them in ways that are fair to all the different students in your class?  You have studied the nature and effects of diversity in some of your previous courses.  In this course, our focus will be on helping you learn to manage your classroom so that all of your students are engaged and improving their understanding, and so that the differences among your students can be an asset rather than a liability.


Promoting engagement and understanding in your students

            As teachers, there are two basic goals that we have for all our students; we will label those goals engagement and understanding.  At one level, these are simple ideas that you are already familiar with.  Engagement means more than excitement or enthusiasm; it involves students’ psychological investment in learning.  We want our students to be convinced that what they learn in science classes is important and personally committed to mastering it.  Understanding means more than “knowing the content;” it means being able to use ideas for their intended purposes, as well as making connections between scientific ideas and your personal ideas about the world. 


At another level, engagement and understanding are complex and difficult goals.  As we try to help our students achieve them, we encounter many difficulties and dilemmas, including the following:


Developing “interesting” and “relevant” questions and problems.

            We all know that we are more engaged and understand better if what we are studying is interesting and relevant.  Take a topic that you will have to teach (Newton’s laws, for example, or cellular respiration).  Is that topic interesting?  What would you have to do to it to make it interesting?  Whose judgment counts when you try to decide whether something is interesting:  biologists?  yourself?  your students?  What if all your students don’t agree about what is interesting or relevant?  There are no simple answers to these questions, but during this course we hope that you will develop an understanding of what makes things interesting in the eyes of various people.  With the help of your informed judgment, it is often possible to transform potentially boring or irrelevant ideas into ideas that will truly engage your students.


Figuring out what to do with the textbook and print materials. 

            When you start teaching, you will probably be given a syllabus or a textbook that you are supposed to “cover.”  If you think about the variety of ways that your own teachers have used textbooks, though, it should be clear that “covering the textbook” can mean very different things to different people.  Some teachers use textbooks mostly as references, while others work their way through chapter by chapter, or even page by page.  Often, it turns out that even the administrators who tell you to cover the textbook are not very clear about what they mean by that! 

            The problem of what to do with the textbook is further complicated by the fact that, as we will see, many textbooks are deeply flawed.  Promoting true engagement or real understanding will require you to transform the contents of the textbook in substantial and difficult ways.  You will begin learning how to make those transformations in this course.


Making connections. 

            We will sometimes talk about understanding as involving “usefulness and connectedness.”  Your students understand an idea if they can (a) use it for its intended purposes, and (b) see how it is connected with their own ideas, with other scientific ideas, and with ideas in other disciplines.  Connections can involve a variety of relationships, including contrasts; you have made a connection if you can explain how two ideas are not alike.  During this course you will begin to study ways to help your students understand the interconnected nature of scientific knowledge, as well as the complex and intricate relationships between scientific knowledge and our intuitive ways of understanding the world around us.


Searching for the truth. 

Most of your students will have a very simple idea of what they are learning in science class:  They are learning “true facts” about nature.  Scientists have a more complex picture of what they know.  For one thing, they recognize that many important scientific ideas are more important as tools  than they are as facts.  Furthermore, they recognize many gradations in the amount of confidence that they have in claims that they and their peers make, and they have a complex language to denote differences in the nature of their ideas and their confidence in them:  conjectures, hypotheses, data, facts, theories, and so forth.  Historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science have an even more complex picture.  They describe scientific communities as developing and refining their ideas though intricate and complex social processes--processes that can never produce infallible “truth.”

            These ideas will be important to you as a teacher for two reasons.  First, you owe it to your students to help them begin developing more complex and sophisticated ideas about truth and falsehood in science and other subjects.  Second, the processes by which scientists develop and refine their ideas are arguably as important a form of “content” as the currently accepted ideas themselves.  If you want to help students to be able to solve problems on their own, and to understand how scientific knowledge changes, then they will need opportunities to participate in social processes like those of scientific communities.  You will investigate these issues in this course.


Becoming a member of a professional community

Becoming a good teacher is hard work under any circumstances; it would be impossible if you couldn’t get a little help from your friends.  Teachers, like scientists, form communities of professionals that exchange ideas and support each other as they try to do the work that they all share.  During this term you will begin to form a community that will (hopefully) sustain and support you as you are learning to teach over the next few years, and to think about the kinds of professional relationships that you will have with your fellow teachers and with others after you have completed your program.


Relationships among yourself, your university instructors, and your cooperating teacher(s). 

Some of your most immediate (and perhaps your most complicated) relationships will develop as you go back and forth between your university classes and the classrooms of your cooperating teachers.  There are valuable things to be learned in both places, but you will sometimes have to work out the real and apparent conflicts between what you learn in one place and what you learn in another.  Sometimes you will find that the disagreements are more apparent than real; at other times you will find that you are a part of the kinds of conflicts that occur in every profession.  These conflicts will continue in whatever school you work in after you graduate.


Your relationships with us and your cooperating teachers may sometimes be strained for another reason.  Learning anything new and difficult requires advice and criticism from more experienced colleagues, criticism that may be painful, but hopefully will help you grow as a teacher in the long run.  We will try to make sure that the criticism is tempered by tolerance and mutual respect among you, your university instructors, and your cooperating teachers.


Participating in a culture of teaching as scholarship. 

Although we commonly credit individuals with achievements in teaching and in science, no achievement is truly an individual accomplishment.  Individual achievements are made possible by the scholarly culture in which teachers and scientists work; it is this scholarly culture that supports their work and recognizes their achievements.  This culture of teaching as scholarship must bring together people with deep knowledge of science, of teaching, and of students.  It must involve them in the sustained, collective knowledge-building activities that are characteristic of scholarly communities.  Over the next two years, we hope that all of us--students, university professors, and collaborating teachers--can begin to form a community that supports and sustains your learning.


Making connections with other communities. 

As a teacher, you will have to communicate with many people who are not teachers--parents, administrators, professional organizations, scientists, and so forth.  You will need to understand them and their concerns, and you will need to convince them of the importance of the work that you are doing. 



Upon completion of this course, the successful student will be able to:


ü     Demonstrate familiarity with, and skill in, the use of  MEGOSE /Michigan Curriculum Framework

ü     Demonstrate a positive attitude towards science.       

ü     Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of basic science concepts and process skills and of the social implications of science.                               

ü     Demonstrate the knowledge and applications of the scientific method in teaching science.

ü     Demonstrate a knowledge of ability to provide instruction relative to science-related societal issues.

ü     Demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationships among various disciplines of science.

ü     Demonstrate an understanding of the interrelationships between science and other academic areas.

ü     Develop student understanding of the relationships which exist among science, technology, society, human issues and cultural values and their implications for science instruction.

ü     Demonstrate the ability to adapt science instruction to meet the varied needs, abilities and interests of students.                                                                    

ü     Demonstrate an ability to adapt instructional plans to the intellectual development stages of students.                                                                       

ü     Demonstrate the ability to plan lessons that make use of resources outside the school environment, such as field trips, speakers, special events, and community resources.  

ü     Demonstrate the ability to plan a laboratory lesson which includes the concept(s), appropriate activity(ies), science process skills, science materials and equipment, and evaluation procedures.    

ü     Demonstrate the ability to develop appropriate evaluation procedures to assess student performance.                                                                                   

ü     Demonstrate knowledge of current safety standards and state laws relating to conducting science laboratory activities.                                            

ü     Demonstrate an understanding of the basic technology as it relates to science education.


IV. Course Grading and Expectations

Course Requirements are subject to change and adaptation at the discretion of the professor.


As a part of these courses you will be keeping a learning portfolio that will document your journey through these courses.  What this portfolio looks like will be your decision.  During Final's Week we will meet individually to talk about your portfolio and your final grade(s).   The following assignments are part of what will make up your portfolio.


Readings and journals (15%). For each chapter or class session you will be asked to respond to some reflection questions, or do the tasks on the end of the chapters.  This will vary from chapter to chapter and is described in more detail in a separate handout. At various times additional reading will be assigned -- how to respond to these readings will be assigned with those assignments.


Lesson Presentation (15%).  You will be required to design and teach one mini-lessons to your peers. This lesson will be around the topic assigned to your small group -lessons must follow the Michigan Science Model guidelines.  These lessons will be graded using a presentation rating scale and a written self-analysis of the lesson.  


Integrated Unit (35%)  You will be required to develop at 10-15 day unit around a topic of your choice.  You are encouraged to use the lessons from the microteaching and technology assignment as part of this unit.  The format and grading rubric for this assignment is described in a separate handout.  Students will be asked to submit these electronically the week of June 16th.  These units, plus micro-teach lessons will be shared on a class CD at the end of the semester.


Portfolio/Exit Interview (15%).  During this term you will develop a collection of ideas, activities and other resources that you can use in your teaching.  During this term you will be required to develop a system for organizing these resources.   You will be expected to demonstrate your competence as a science teacher using the NSTA/NCATE Science Teacher Education Standards.  The standard areas include:  Content, Nature of Science, Inquiry, Contents of Science, Skills of Teaching, Curriculum, Social Context, Assessment, Environment of Learning, and Professional Practice.  This is for your future use so plan on organizing this in a way that makes most sense to you -- not to please me!  This assignment is described in greater detail in a separate handout.


In-class writing and participation (20%).  You will often be asked to write briefly about some question or issue, usually as preparation for a discussion in class, and you should attend and participate in classes.  The success of this class relies heavily on the full participation of all it's members.  A large part of this class will be spent in class discussion and small group work and peer feedback therefore your attendance is essential.  One absence will be permitted without consequences.  After one absence this portion of your grade will drop one letter grade for each absence.  Tardiness and the need to leave early will be considered a partial absence.



In order to be successful in this course you will need to address several issues.  Teaching is a profession and you need to exhibit a professional attitude by:


1.     Attending all class sessions for full length of course and be on time.

2.     Complete all assignments and turn them in on time.  Late assignments will be penalized one letter grade each day it is late unless a negotiated later due date has been assigned.

3.     Put the maximum amount of effort into the class.  Please stop by and discuss conflicts.

4.     Type all assignments unless specified.  Use of a computer will make your life much easier.

5.     You are responsible for making yourself aware of and understanding the policies and procedures in the Undergraduate (pp. 271-272) [Graduate (pp. 24-26)] Catalog that pertain to Academic Integrity. These policies include cheating, fabrication, falsification and forgery, multiple submission, plagiarism, complicity and computer misuse. If there is reason to believe you have been involved in academic dishonesty, you will be referred to the Office of Student Judicial Affairs. You will be given the opportunity to review the charge(s). If you believe you are not responsible, you will have the opportunity for a hearing. You should consult with me if you are uncertain about an issue of academic honesty prior to the submission of an assignment or test.


All of the above assignments and projects will be assigned a numeric value.  Each raw score will be converted into a percentage and multiplied by weight.  Final grades will be based on the following scale.


Grading Scale

95 -- 100%           A

89 – 94.99%        BA

83 – 88.99%        B

77 – 82.99%        CB

71 – 76.99%        C

65 – 70.99%        DC

60 – 64.99%        D

59 ą 0%             E






IV. Tentative Course Schedule – version1




Lesson Topic

Assignment due:  J=Journal; FW = Fast write(in class); P = paper

Readings: SF = Exploring Safely:  A Guide for Elementary Science Teachers

INQ = Inquiry And The National Science Education Standards

CA = Classroom Assessment and the National Science Education Standards

Reading are expected to be completed on the date indicated.

Journals and reflections should be completed and submitted on the date indicated

* Unless specified in class you are expected to respond to 1 question for each reading assignment – questions provided in separate handout.

Part I:  Nature of Science and Science Inquiry

August 30


"Messing about in science"

Building your identity as a science teacher

Readings and Tasks: 

      Syllabus (in class)

FW:  Course expectations

FW:  How does this toy work and what can I teach with it?

September 6

No class meeting – Labor Day Holiday

September 13

The Standards Movement:  Reform Efforts in Science Education

Getting familiar with the state and national standards

Introduction to technology in science teaching and planning science instruction

Lesson Topics will be assigned

Reading and Tasks:

INQ Chapter 1 and 2

SF Chapter 1

Reflection #1 due


Part II:  Planning for Instruction

September 20

Getting to know your students and the context of teaching science

Making science accessible to all students

Setting up the science learning community

Locating resources and brainstorming topic

Reading and Tasks:

INQ Chapter 3

SF Chapters 2 & 3


September 27

What does science learning look like and how do we support this in our classroom

Looking at classroom environment and setting up a science learning community

Classroom culture – “This question is just too, too, too easy”

Readings and Tasks:

CA Chapters 1 & 2

INQ Chapter 4

October 4

Preparing and planning for instruction

Learning cycle

Planning instruction

Science and Literature

Assessment and evaluation

Readings and Tasks

Readings to be provided.

Topic for Unit due.


Part III - Exploring Content

October 11

Magnetism and Electricity

Lesson presentations start

Data collection and analysis

Readings and Task:

SF chapters 4 & 8

Classroom diagram due

October 18

Light and Sound

Questioning and Developing Rubrics

Reading and Tasks

Reading provided

CA Chapter 4

October 25

Heat and Matter

Managing equipment and facilitating small group work

Reading and Tasks

CA Chapter 3

SF Chapter 6

Unit Map Due

November 1


Air/Air Pressure & Weather

Abstract ideas and children’s conceptions

Readings and Task:

INQ Chapter 6

Additional Reading Provided – Watson & Konicek

Website list due


November 8


Astronomy and Geology

Using outside sources/

Readings and Tasks

INQ Chapter 7

SF Chapter 7

Technology wish list due

November 15

Plants and Animals

Being a professional – support structures in the science education community

Revisit – “This question is just too, too, too easy”

Readings and Tasks

SF Chapter 5

November 22


Field trips -- Real and virtual

Tasks and Readings

SF Chapter 9

Units Due

November 29

Presentation of Units and Course Wrap-Up

Portfolios due


6 – 10

Finals week – exit interviews by appointment



A Home on the Web for Science Education


A class web site for SCI 404 students has been created at:  http://www.nicenet.org

From this screen – choose “Join a Class”

It will then ask you to enter a “Class Key”  for this class your class key is:



You will then be asked to register.

Next time you log in you will do so with your username and password.

You can join one of my earlier classes that has 364 websites by joining a class that has a class key of: 025028U72

An Additional 271 websites some of which will be repeats can be found at: Z35727U69

As people join the SCI 404 class and start to enter sites you will be able to send notes to each other through this site.  One you have joined the class you will see the following screen.




Expanded Description of Papers and Assignments

ED 401 – Fall 2004


Reflection #1 -- Nature of Science


The Nature of Science

People have different ideas about what science is and what teaching and learning science should look like.  I'm interesting in what YOU think -- please answer the following questions with YOU think about the ideas.  Even if you are not sure, write down what you currently think.

1.  What do you think science is?

2.  What kinds of things to you think of people doing when they are "doing science?"  Give as many examples as come to mind.



Instructional Goals

3.  In the best of all possible worlds, with all the time and equipment you needed, and with things going as you’d hoped what would your ideal science lesson look like?  Use one of the big ideas you described above as an example, imagine yourself teaching in the grade level you chose above, and describe what you and the students would be doing.

4.  In the lesson you just described, why would what you and the students are doing make this the best science lesson -- better than others?



Content Knowledge

Content Knowledge

1.  What are some topics in science that you would feel really comfortable about teaching students?  What is it about those topics that makes you feel comfortable about teaching them?

2.  What are some topics in science that you would not feel comfortable teaching with students?  What makes them more uncomfortable for you?

3.  What are some topics in science that you might not know much about now, but you'd be willing to learn about, so that you could teach them to students?  What would/could you do to find out abut this stuff?


Prior Science Experiences

Prior Science Experiences

1.  Think back over what you remember about science when you were growing up, when you were in elementary school.  What was it like?  What did you do?  What did the teacher do?  Did you like it?  What did you learn about science?  about yourself as a learner in science?  about other children?  about teaching science?

2.  How about middle school or junior high school?  What was science like?  What did you do?  What did the teacher do?  Did you like it?  What did you learn about science?  about yourself as a learner in science?  about other children?  about teaching science?

3 & 4  Do the same for both high school and college science.  Ask yourself the same questions about the science courses you had. 

Read back over what you've written about your science experiences in school. 

5.  What grade levels stood out in your memory?  What was it about science in those classes that made them stand out? 

6.  How would you summarize your experiences in learning science in school? 

7.  How do you feel about science now?





Lesson Presentation Plan


For each category I have outlined some of the criteria that I will use for grading the parts of the lesson plan and the points possible for each section.  How you organize the lesson and present it is up to you – these are the components that must be included but the order and format can differ based on your preferences.


I.  Subject/Topic:    Curriculum area.. What will be taught in this lesson? Grading Criteria:  Clear and concise, specifies topic and grade level. Points Possible: 2 pts.

II.  Rationale/Purpose;  Why should students learn this material?  What is the value to the student?  Grading Criteria:  How convincing in your argument?  Points Possible: 10 pts.

III.  Objectives:  What will the student be able to understand or do after the lesson?

Grading Criteria:  Clear and defined objectives.  Are they reference to state objectives, Benchmarks, other sources?  Points Possible: 15 pts.

IV.  Content:  Outline form ...Detail the central points, questions and skills that will be emphasized.  Grading Criteria:  Are the essential points clear, what prior knowledge are you assuming?  Points Possible: 15 pts.

V.  Strategies and Activities:   What will be done for, by and with the students in order to reach the objective(s)?  Grading Criteria:  How are you going to going to introduce the activity?  Manage the activity?  Wrap it up?  Points Possible: 15 pts.

VI.  Materials:  A check list of the items needed for the strategies and activities (include copies of handouts, etc.)  Grading Criteria:  Are all necessary materials listed?  Points Possible: 3 pts.

VII.    Plans for Individual Differences;  How will the lesson be adapted to meet the individual needs of various students in the class?  Grading Criteria:  List of ways that individuals with different learning styles will be supported by the lesson.  What are you going to do if half the class still doesn't understand at the end?  Points Possible: 10 pts.

VIII.  Evaluation:  How will students' progress based on objectives be determined? 

Grading Criteria:  Detailed description of what kind of follow-up you would plan for assessing student understanding.  Key question:  How are you going to know it when you see it?

Points Possible: 10 pts.


Lesson Presentation Critique / Analysis


I have provided an outline of some of the sections that could be part of your analysis.  If you would like to write this in a different format please feel free to do so, and use this as a guide for what to include and as a reference to what I will be looking for in your analysis. 


I.  Summary of Lesson    How did what you planned on doing compare with what you actually did?  Where there any major changes?  Points Possible:  10 points


II.  Analysis of Lesson  What worked well?  What didn't work as well?  What else would the class have needed to make this a better lesson?  What else did you need to make this lesson better?  Points Possible:  40 points


III.  Adaptations for a Larger or Smaller Class:  If you were going to teach this lesson to a class of 25 - 30, or a class of 10-12 students what changes would you make in your instruction?

Points Possible:  10 points


IV.  Plans for Revision    If you were going to do this lesson again what would you do differently?  Why?  Points Possible:  20 points




Unit Description



Basic Information


Grade level

School setting

Class duration



Topic Map and Calendar


Lesson Plans

10 days worth of lesson plans  -- Please note this might not be 10 different lesson plans.  Some days a lesson goes across two days. 


*Please note when outlining the lesson activities identify the pacing of the lesson.  How long do you expect each part will take?


Lesson Plan format might look something like:


Title/Topic of lesson

State Benchmarks addressed

Teaching goals

Materials needed

Space arrangement



Activity or Topic

Assessment strategy











Unit Assessment


Modifications and/or extensions to meet needs of all students


References and Resources used.  Bibliographic Information




Ed 401 – Science Methods Course Portfolio – Fall 2004


Table of Contents:

            Indicating what artifacts are presented for each dimension of each standard.  Standard areas include:  Content, Nature of Science, Inquiry, Contents of Science, Skills of Teaching, Curriculum, Social Context, Assessment, Environment of Learning, and Professional Practice.  A compete description of these standards starts on page 17.


Science Teaching Philosophy

A teaching philosophy statement can take on a variety of looks or formats.  The following 5 questions are almost always addressed in a teaching philosophy statement.  The answers to these questions are usually a paragraph or two long. 

v     Why do I want to be a (insert discipline (i.e.  biology, English, mathematics)) teacher?

v     How do I believe students learn?

v     Why is my discipline important?  How does it improve quality of life?

v     How do my strengths and interests link the first three statements?

v     How do I hope my students will describe me as a teacher?


Final Reflection – What did you learn this semester?  “Exit Interview Questions” may be used to structure this reflection


Exit Questions for Interview:  Main things learned; Wish list; Advice to future students; Topics to add or remove from course. Validation of performance level for standards.


Data Sources

Using journals, papers and your unit – document and describe how you meet the national standards for science teacher preparation.


Sample Journals, Assignments and Reflections:

Š       Course expectations

Š       Nature of science and past science experiences

Š       Technology Wish List

Š       Sample Safety Contract

Š       Survey of Safety in the schools

Š       WWW sites for science teaching

Š       Lesson presentation and analysis


Format:  Portfolio must be in electronic format to receive full credit

Suggestion:  Take the standards and hyperlink data sources.





National Standards for Science Teacher Education


Content Content refers to concepts and principles understood through science; concepts and relationships unifying science domains; processes of investigation in a science discipline; and applications of mathematics in science research.


1.a.  Know and understand the major concepts and principles of the teaching discipline(s) as defined by state and national standards of the science education community.


1.b.  Know and understand major concepts and principles unifying science disciplines. (See National Science Education Standard - Unifying Concepts).


1.c.  Design, conduct and report investigations within a science discipline.


1.d.  Apply mathematics in problem-solving and scientific investigation.


Nature of Science Nature of science refers to characteristics distinguishing science from other ways of knowing; characteristics distinguishing basic science, applied science, and technology; processes and conventions of science as a professional activity; and standards defining acceptable evidence and scientific explanation.


2.a.  Know  and understand the philosophical nature of science and the conventions of scientific explanation.


2.b.  Engage K-12 students effectively in studies of the nature of science and conventions of scientific explanation.


Inquiry  Inquiry refers to questioning and formulating solvable problems; reflecting on, and constructing, knowledge from data; collaborating and exchanging information while seeking solutions; and developing concepts and relationships from empirical experience. (See also NSTA position statement that follows these standards)


3.a.  Know and understand scientific inquiry and its relationship to the development of scientific knowledge.


3.b.  Engage K-12 students effectively in scientific inquiry appropriate for their grade level and abilities.


Context of Science The context of science refers to relationships among systems of human endeavor including science and technology; relationships among scientific, technological, personal, social and cultural values; and the relevance and importance of science to the personal lives of students.


4.a.  Know and understand the relationship of science to other human values and endeavors.


4.b.  Engage K-12 students effectively in the study of the relationship of science to other human values and endeavors.


4.c. Relate science to the personal lives, needs and interests of K-12 students.


Skills of Teaching Skills of Teaching refers to science teaching actions, strategies and methodologies; interactions with students that promote learning and achievement; effective organization of classroom experiences; use of advanced technology to extend and enhance learning; and the use of prior conceptions and student interests to promote new learning.


5.a.  Use diverse and effective actions, strategies and methodologies to teach science.


5.b.  Interact effectively with K-12 students to promote learning and demonstrate student achievement.


5.c.  Organize and manage science activities effectively in different student groupings.


5.d.  Use advanced technology to teach K-12 students science.


5.e.  Use prior conceptions and K-12 student interests to promote learning.


Curriculum Science curriculum refers to an extended framework of goals, plans, materials, and resources for instruction and the instructional context, both in and out of school, within which pedagogy is embedded


6.a.  Develop coherent, meaningful goals, plans, and materials and find resources.


6.b.  Relate plans and resources to professionally-developed state and national standards, including the National Science Education Standards.


6.c.  Plan and develop science curriculum addressing the needs, interests and abilities of all preK-12 students.


Social Context The social context of science teaching refers to the social and community support network within which science teaching and learning occur; relationship of science teaching and learning to the needs and values of the community; and involvement of people and institutions from the community in the teaching of science.


7.a.  Know and understand the values and needs of the community and their effect on the teaching and learning of science.


7.b.  Use community human and institutional resources to advance the learning of science in the classroom and field.


Assessment Assessment refers to the alignment of goals, instruction and outcomes; measurement and evaluation of student learning in a variety of dimensions and the use of outcome data to guide and change instruction.


8.a. Align science goals, instruction and outcomes.


8.b.  Know and use a variety of contemporary science assessment strategies to determine preK-12 student needs and levels of learning and  development.


8.c.  Use assessment appropriately to determine, guide and change science instruction.


Environment of Learning Learning environments refers to the physical spaces within which learning of science occurs; psychological and social environment of the student engaged in learning science; treatment and ethical use of living organisms; and safety in all areas related to science instruction.


9.a.  Create and maintain a psychologically and socially safe and supportive learning environment.


9.b.  Manage the activities and materials of science safely in storage areas, labs and field.


9.c.  Keep and use living organisms as in the classroom in a safe, ethical and appropriate manner.


Professional Practice Professional practice refers to knowledge of, and participation in, the activities of the professional community; ethical behavior consistent with the best interests of students and the community; reflection on professional practices and continuous efforts to ensure the highest quality of science instruction; and willingness to work with students and new colleagues as they enter the profession.


10.a.  Know and participate in professional organizations and activities of the science education community beyond the classroom.


10.b.  Behave ethically and in best interests of preK-12 students and the community.


10.c.  Engage in reflective practices and make continuous efforts to improve in practice.


10.d. Work willingly with peers, supervisors and others in a professional manner.


Expanded Description of what is meant by “inquiry” in relation to science teaching and learning.


NSTA Position Statement


Scientific Inquiry


 Draft: June 15, 2004 (Last edited by tweber : 08-14-2004 at 03:38 PM.)




 The National Science Education Standards (NSES p. 23) defines scientific inquiry as "the diverse ways in which scientists study the natural world and propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their work. Scientific inquiry also refers to the activities through which students develop knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, as well as an understanding of how scientists study the natural world." The Science as Inquiry Standard in NSES includes the abilities necessary to do scientific inquiry and understanding about scientific inquiry.


 Scientific inquiry reflects how scientists come to understand the natural world, and it is at the heart of how students learn. From a very early age, children interact with their environment, ask questions, and seek ways to answer those questions. Understanding science content is significantly enhanced when ideas are anchored to inquiry experiences.


 Scientific inquiry is a powerful way of understanding science content. Students learn how to ask questions and use evidence to answer them. In the process of learning the strategies of scientific inquiry, students learn to conduct an investigation and collect evidence from a variety of sources, develop an explanation from the data, and communicate and defend their conclusions.


 The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) recommends that all K-12 teachers embrace scientific inquiry and is committed to helping educators make it the centerpiece of the science classroom. The use of scientific inquiry will help ensure that students develop a deep understanding of science.




Regarding the use of scientific inquiry as a teaching approach, NSTA recommends that science teachers

  Plan an inquiry-based science program for their students by developing both short- and long-term goals that incorporate appropriate content knowledge.

  Implement approaches to teaching science that begin with explorations and use those experiences to raise and answer questions about the natural world. The learning cycle approach is one of many effective strategies for bringing explorations and questioning into the classroom.

  Guide and facilitate learning using inquiry by selecting teaching strategies that nurture and assess student’s developing understandings and abilities.

  Design and manage learning environments that provide students with the time, space, and resources needed for learning science through inquiry.

  Receive adequate administrative support for the pursuit of science as inquiry in the classroom. Support can take the form of professional development on how to teach scientific inquiry, content, and the nature of science; the allocation of time to do scientific inquiry effectively; and the availability of necessary materials and equipment.

  Experience science as inquiry as a part of their teacher preparation program. Preparation should include learning how to develop questioning strategies, writing lesson plans that promote abilities and understanding of scientific inquiry, and analyzing instructional materials to determine whether they promote scientific inquiry.


Regarding students' abilities to do scientific inquiry, NSTA recommends that teachers help students

  Learn how to identify and ask appropriate questions that can be answered through scientific investigations.

  Design and conduct investigations to collect the evidence needed to answer a variety of questions.

  Become aware that there is no fixed method of approaching science inquiry, and that students can be creative in designing and conducting investigations and in analyzing data.

  Use appropriate equipment and tools to interpret and analyze data.

  Learn how to draw conclusions and think critically and logically to create explanations based on their evidence.

  Communicate and defend their results to their peers and others.


Regarding students' understanding about scientific inquiry, NSTA recommends that teachers help students understand

  That science involves asking questions about the world and then developing scientific investigations to answer their questions.

  That there is no fixed sequence of steps that all scientific investigations follow. Different kinds of questions suggest different kinds of scientific investigations.

  That scientific inquiry is central to the learning of science and reflects how science is done.

  The importance of gathering empirical data using appropriate tools and instruments.

  That the evidence they collect can change their perceptions about the world and increase their scientific knowledge.

  The importance of being skeptical when they assess their own work and the work of others.

  That the scientific community, in the end, seeks explanations that are empirically based and logically consistent.



 American Association for the Advancement of Science (1993). Benchmarks for science literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.

National Research Council (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

National Research Council (2000). Inquiry and the national science education standards: A guide for teaching and learning. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.


Position Statement Panel

Dr. Norman G. Lederman (Chair)

 Department of Mathematics and Science Education

 Illinois Institute of Technology

Rodger W. Bybee

 Executive Director


Michael P. Clough

 Assistant Professor

 Center for Excellence in Science and Mathematics Education

 Iowa State University

Marlene Hilkowitz

 School District of Philadelphia



Bob Pearson

 Science Teacher

 Eddyville Charter School

Harold Pratt

 Past NSTA President

Jan Tuomi

 Lead Consultant

 Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning

Linda Crow (Council Liaison)

 Professor, Biological Sciences

 Montgomery College

John Penick (Board Liaison)

 Retiring NSTA President

 Professor & Head, Department of Mathematics, Science & Technology Ed

North Carolina State University