Elementary Science Methods Syllabus


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Elementary Science Methods Syllabus
Course Description
This course is designed to support both new and experienced elementary science educators in refining and focusing their instructional skills. Course participants will incorporate research and National Science Education Standards as they practice developing, implementing, and assessing elementary science lessons. Using cases and online resources as a launching point, teachers will be given the opportunity to participate in on-line discussions regarding beliefs, best practices, challenges, current research, and examine ways to apply them to their own teaching practice.
Competencies
Upon completion of this course, participants will be able to:
 Apply, evaluate and reflect on a range of elementary science teaching methods;
 Evaluate and select appropriate resources to assist in designing, implementing, and assessing elementary science lessons;
 Design and implement developmentally appropriate science lessons;
 Engage students in building understanding of science concepts; and
 Use science content knowledge to plan, teach, assess, and reflect on science methods, ideas, and materials using the National Science Education Standards as a guide.
Materials
All materials are accessed via the CaseNEX website using the PIN provided and the user name/password you create.
All readings listed can be found by going to Class MaterialsVirtual LibraryReadings (Search).
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If you do not have the most recent versions of the following software, please download each from the given sites.
 Windows Media Player  RealPlayer  Adobe Reader  QuickTime Cases Used  Room To Grow  The Webs We Weave  Whose Class Is It Course Schedule Find session dates by selecting Syllabus on the top menu bar. For typical courses, final Discussions, Journals, and Workbooks are due by Saturday at midnight unless otherwise noted. Please see the News Flash for any alterations of the course schedule posted by your instructor. Course Requirements and Grades http://www.casenex.com/casenex/syllabus/Generic2/CourseRequirements_gen eric.pdf
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Introductory Session Exploring the CaseNEX Site Complete these tasks prior to the beginning of Session 1. Readings Read the course requirements, paying special attention to the CaseAnalysis and Workbook Assignment Rubrics. They will be used by your instructor throughout the course to evaluate assignments where appropriate. Discussion Post one entry introducing yourself to your classmates. You may choose to describe your professional background and experience, relevant personal information, or why you are taking this course. (100 words or fewer) Journal What do you find inspiring and challenging about teaching science in an elementary classroom? (100 words or fewer) Note Use CaseMail to send a note to your instructor stating that you will be taking this course. To do so, click on CaseMail on the top menu bar and then ‘Click here to create a new message.’ Use the marked link to look up an address. Continue linking down until you see the class list. Select the instructor’s name and then compose your message and hit ‘Post Message.’
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Session 1 Applying Cognitive Theories to Deepen Scientific Understanding
Case Room To Grow
Readings  A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas /2 Guiding Assumptions and Organization of the Framework  Science in Early Childhood Classrooms: Content and Process  How Students Learn: Science in the Classroom; Chapter 9
Discussion
Organizing instruction around themes and process skills supports student understanding of science content. What themes and process skills have Christine’s students in this session’s case learned and applied? Using knowledge from the readings, explain how this unit helped Christine’s students develop their skills and understanding. What additional actions might you suggest Christine take to further support her students’ understanding of themes and application of process skills? What might be her students’ perspectives on following your and your colleagues’ suggestions?
Journal
According to the “Science for All Children” reading, there are four steps to the learning cycle. Consider a science unit that you have taught in the past and will likely teach again. Cite the objectives and provide some context for where the unit fits within your curriculum. Reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of this unit, using knowledge from the reading about the learning cycle and children’s cognitive development. What actions do you take to balance “didactic instruction and inquiry-centered experiences” in that unit and in your classroom in general? What are your students’ perspectives on the range of learning experiences your offer?
OR
Using knowledge from the “Guiding Assumptions and Organization of the Framework; Chapter 2” reading, discuss the issues teachers face
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as they balance these components. Consider demands on the teacher, access to resources, support from administration, adherence to curriculum, etc. What actions can one take to ensure lessons include all four steps of the learning cycle (focus, explore, reflect, and apply)? Note Check your CaseMail (linked from top menu bar) and News Flash (on the right when you login) for notes from your instructor every time you log on to the site. Workbook None this session
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Session 2 Understanding the Nature of Science & Project 2061
Case Whose Class Is It? Readings
 Teaching Science Literacy  “Best Practices” of Science Teaching  Identifying Curriculum Materials for Science Literacy: A Project
2061 Evaluation Tool
Discussion
Miss Lowry’s lesson plan (Scene 6 of this session’s case) reinforces several misconceptions about the nature of science. Evaluate the lesson plan, using knowledge from the Science for All Americans reading. Which components of the lesson are congruent with the Project 2061 recommendations for science literacy? Suggest actions Ms. Lowry might take to meet these guidelines. What might be her – and her students’ – perspectives on these revisions?
Journal
How has your understanding of science as a discipline changed as a result of the knowledge presented this session? Reflect on your own learning process and the consequences for your teaching. What actions will you take in your classroom, as a result of this experience?
Workbook
Lesson Evaluation
Quality instructional strategies must accompany quality curricular materials. Choose two science activities or lessons to evaluate, preferably from your curriculum (or you may find examples online). Cite the source of the lesson/activity. Then, evaluate each lesson/activity using Appendix A of the Project 2061 Evaluation Procedure. For each activity, first answer the questions from the Content Analysis and Instructional Analysis sections. Then, write a summary statement about the overall quality of the activity, including its strongest and weakest components. Revise the activity and provide
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a rationale for your suggested changes, based on knowledge from course readings. Due by the end of Session 3
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Session 3 Understanding the Standards
Case The Webs We Weave
Readings  Integrated Studies Research: Evidence-Based Practices and Programs  National Science Education Standards: K-4  Doing Science; The Process of Scientific Inquiry  Locate and review your district or state science standards for the grade you teach.
Discussion
Inquiry, the systematic process of answering research questions through data analysis, asks students to solve problems, either teacherpresented or student-formulated, and make generalizations about broad, fundamental concepts. In order to do so, students are involved first in gathering, analyzing and interpreting qualitative or quantitative data, and finally in communicating information. In the Webs We Weave case, the spider unit was a valuable learning experience for the students, but it does not constitute inquiry. What actions could Sarah and Michael take to alter or extend their lesson plan in order to involve their students in inquiry? Use specific knowledge of the elements of the inquiry instructional model (engaging, exploring, explaining, elaborating, and evaluating) as you suggest modifications to their unit.
Journal
Review the “National Science Education Standards: K-4” reading and reflect on the issues raised that are most relevant to your own classroom and district. How do these standards match those promulgated by your district or state? Pick one standard from the reading and describe how that standard is (or is not) covered in your classroom. How might you incorporate knowledge from this reading as you plan future classroom instruction?
Workbook
Lesson Evaluation due by the end of this session.
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Session 4 Implementing Units of Inquiry
Case Room to Grow Readings
 How to Use Classroom Observation More Effectively  Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards: A Guide
for Teaching and Learning, Chapter 3  The 5 Features of Science Inquiry: What Questions Do You
Have?
Discussion
Define inquiry and what it means to you as a teacher of science. Then, considering the perspectives of teacher and students, reflect on Ms. Flores’s classroom and her unit (described in Chapter 3 of this session’s reading). Compare Ms. Flores’s unit on earthworms from Chapter 3 of this session’s reading to Christine’s unit on earthworms from the Room To Grow case. Using knowledge from the readings, discuss each unit’s goals and objectives, grouping of students, assessment, student engagement, student ownership and responsibility of learning, and the five elements of the inquiry instructional model. What are the positive and negative consequences of each teacher’s choices?
Journal
This session, provide your students an opportunity to make observations and engage them in “creative questioning” as described in the reading. Reflect on the learning consequences (expected and unexpected) that resulted for you and for your students. What was their perspective on these activities, and how did this differ from your expectations?
OR
Consider the perspective of a teacher planning an inquiry-based lesson, such as those described in the readings. What issues do you foresee? What actions can you take to overcome these challenges in your own classroom?
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Workbook Lesson Plan
Focus on your district’s science standards and inquiry in the science classroom, as presented in the course readings. Develop a lesson that you can implement in the next two weeks that targets objectives from your science curriculum using inquiry. Include the following information:
 Description of classroom, students, grade level, content, languages spoken, and any other relevant information;
 Goals and objectives, including local and state standards;  Grouping of students;  Materials;  Procedures, including specific research-based methods from
course readings;  Assessment (formative and/or summative);  Rationale for your choices;  Reflections on your implementation of this lesson and ideas for
its refinement. (Complete this portion after you have delivered the lesson).
This Workbook assignment is due by the end of Session 5.
(Note: If you are taking this course during the summer you are expected to make every effort to involve students in your assignments as noted. Accessing students in summer school programs, or working with those you know socially are acceptable alternatives to implementing assignments with your own class when that option is not available. If you cannot arrange access to students, the student feedback and reflection portions may be omitted at the instructor’s discretion).
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Elementary Science Methods Syllabus