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Teachers use their knowledge to make effective decisions about learning objectives, teaching strategies, assessment tasks, and curriculum materials. Is this experiment appropriate for the understanding and ability of the students? What type of research do students need to do to extend their understanding? Is this curriculum unit appropriate for this group of third-grade students? Does a particular study allow students sufficient opportunity to devise their own experiments?

Assessment is an important tool for good inquiry into teaching. In the daily operation of their classrooms, skilled teachers of science are diagnosticians who understand students' ideas, beliefs, and reasoning. Effective teachers are knowledgeable about the various educational purposes for assessment and know how to implement and interpret a variety of assessment strategies.

Skilled teachers of science also know how to create and manage the physical, social, and intellectual environment in a classroom community of science learners.


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Developing pedagogical content knowledge of science requires that teachers of science have the opportunity to bring together the knowledge described above and develop an integrated view of what it means to teach and learn science. The teaching standards in Chapter 3 are designed to guide teachers' decisions about each of the complex activities involved in teaching science. In the vision described by the Standards, teachers also develop concepts and language to engage in discourse with their peers about content, curriculum, teaching, learning, assessment, and students.

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The development of pedagogical content knowledge by teachers mirrors what we know about learning by students; it can be fully developed only through continuous experience. But experience is not sufficient. Teachers also must have opportunities to engage in analysis of the individual components of pedagogical content knowledge—science, learning, and pedagogy—and make connections between them. In this vision, people responsible for professional development work together with each other and with teachers as they integrate their knowledge and experiences.

For example, higher education science and education faculty must learn to work together: An instructor in a university science course might invite a member of the science education faculty to participate in regular discussion time designed to help students reflect on how they came to learn science concepts.

Not only must the departments in higher education institutions work together, but schools and higher education institutions must enter into true collaboration. She also reads research regularly, reviews resources, and makes judgments about their value for her teaching. The students in her high-school class have opportunities to develop mental models, work with instructional technology, use multiple materials, teach one another, and consider the personal, social, and ethical aspects of science.

She has the support of the school and district and has the resources she needs. She also relies on resources in the community. She taught the course before and read extensively about the difficulties students have with transmission genetics conceptually and as a means of developing problem-solving skills. She also has been learning about new approaches to teaching genetics. From her reading and from a workshop she attended for high-school teachers at the local university, she knows that many people have been experimenting with ways to improve genetics instruction.

She also knows that several computer programs are available that simulate genetics events. She wants to provide the students with opportunities to understand the basic principles of transmission genetics. She also wants them to appreciate how using a mental model is useful to understanding. She wants her students to engage in and learn the processes of inquiry as they develop their mental models.

Selecting an appropriate computer program is important, because simulation will be key to much of the first quarter of the course. Each simulation allows students to select parental phenotypes and make crosses. Offspring were produced quickly by all the programs; genotypes and phenotypes are distributed stochastically according to the inheritance pattern.

With such programs, students will be able to simulate many generations of crosses in a single class period. All the programs are open-ended—no answer books are provided to check answers. All the programs allow students to begin with data and construct a model of the elements and processes of an inheritance pattern.

Students will be able to use the model to predict the phenotypes and genotypes of future offspring and check predictions by. Enough computers are available to permit students to work in teams of four. Students will work in their teams to develop models of inheritance patterns during the first quarter.

It has a nice model for an inheritance pattern, and students will examine it as they identify elements of a mental model. In addition to using the simulations, Ms. She will need to order the proper yeast strains, fruit flies, and Fast Plants. She has commercially prepared units in genetics using each of these organisms and has adapted the units. Each organism has advantages and limitations when used to study transmission genetics; students will be working in teams and will share with other teams what they learn from the different organisms.


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  • During the second quarter, students will focus on human genetics. The speaker and Ms. Someone from the state laboratory also will come and demonstrate. Having students perform a karyotype will give new meaning to a phrase in the text: "the chromosome images are sorted by type. Each student will become an "expert" in one inherited human disorder, learning about the mode of inheritance, symptoms, frequency, effect on individuals and family, care, and such.

    Students will present their reports to the class. They will also work in pairs to solve an ethical case study associated with an inherited disorder. Drawing on several articles about teaching ethical issues to children, Ms. Part of the case study will require students to draw a pedigree. This is an ongoing effort—she has been collecting material for some years now. She also has posters and pictures from service organizations she will put up around the room, but some wall space needs to be saved for student data charts. Having reviewed the goals and structure of the course, Ms.

    She has a good idea of how long different activities will take from her previous experience teaching this course. Planning for each week helps ensure that the live materials and the speakers are coordinated for the right time. But Ms.

    Teachers’ professional development and conditions - vital signs for student well-being and progress

    Finally, Ms. On the first day of class, the students will share why they chose this course and what their hopes and expectations are. They might also describe what they already know about genetics and what questions they bring to class. Some of the most powerful connections between science teaching and learning are made through thoughtful practice in field experiences, team teaching, collaborative research, or peer coaching.

    Field experience starts early in the preservice program and continues throughout a teaching career. Whenever possible, the context for learning to teach science should involve actual students, real student work, and outstanding curriculum materials. Trial and error in teaching situations, continual thoughtful reflection, interaction with peers, and much repetition of teaching science content combine to develop the kind of integrated understanding that characterizes expert teachers of science.

    New forms of collaboration that foster integrated professional development for teachers must be developed. One promising possibility is the reorganization of teacher education institutions into a professional development school model, where practitioners and theoreticians are involved in teacher education activities in a collegial relationship. Another is extensive collaboration among schools, colleges, local industry, and other science-rich centers. Many teachers come to learning activities with preconceptions about teaching science.

    At a minimum, their own science learning experiences have defined teaching for them. More accomplished teachers have their own teaching styles and strategies and their own views of learning and teaching. When teachers have the time and opportunity to describe their own views about learning and teaching, to conduct research on their own teaching, and to compare, contrast, and revise their views, they come to understand the nature of exemplary science teaching.

    Learning experiences for prospective and practicing teachers must include inquiries into the questions and difficulties teachers have. Assessment is an example. Teachers must have opportunities to observe practitioners of good classroom assessment and to. They need to have structured opportunities in aligning curriculum and assessment, in selecting and developing appropriate assessment tasks, and in analyzing and interpreting the gathered information. Teachers also need to have opportunities to collaborate with other teachers to evaluate student work—developing, refining, and applying criteria for evaluation.

    Practicing teachers will benefit from opportunities to participate in organized sessions for scoring open-ended assessments. Professional development activities create opportunities for teachers to confront new and different ways of thinking; to participate in demonstrations of new and different ways of acting; to discuss, examine, critique, explore, argue, and struggle with new ideas;. Teacher learning is analogous to student learning: Learning to teach science requires that the teacher articulate questions, pursue answers to those questions, interpret information gathered, propose applications, and fit the new learning into the larger picture of science teaching.

    These suggestions for preservice and inservice professional development do not dictate a certain structure. They could be met in a college course, a sustained inservice workshop or institute, a residency in a science-rich center, a seminar for new teachers, a teacher study or action research group, or a teacher network.

    It is the nature of the learning situation that is important, not the structure. Professional development for teachers of science requires building understanding and ability for lifelong learning. Professional development activities must. Provide regular, frequent opportunities for individual and collegial examination and reflection on classroom and institutional practice.

    Provide opportunities for teachers to receive feedback about their teaching and to understand, analyze, and apply that feedback to improve their practice. Provide opportunities for teachers to learn and use various tools and techniques for self-reflection and collegial reflection, such as peer coaching, portfolios, and journals. Support the sharing of teacher expertise by preparing and using mentors, teacher advisers, coaches, lead teachers, and resource teachers to provide professional development opportunities.

    Provide opportunities to know and have access to existing research and experiential knowledge. Provide opportunities to learn and use the skills of research to generate new knowledge about science and the teaching and learning of science. The primary job of a teacher is to promote learning, and it follows that teachers themselves are dedicated learners. Lifelong learning by teachers is essential for several reasons. One obvious reason is to keep current in science. Teachers do not leave preservice programs with complete understanding of all the science they will need in their teaching careers, and they need to continue to clarify and deepen their understanding of the science content that is part of their teaching responsibility.

    Another reason teachers must have the opportunity to continue to learn is made clear by the observation that tomorrow's students will have markedly different needs from today's students; even today's employers require employees who can frame problems and design their own tasks, think critically, and work together. Teaching itself is complex, requiring constant learning and continual reflection. New knowledge, skills, and strategies for teaching come from a variety of sources—research, new materials and tools, descriptions of best.

    Teachers continually consider and contribute to the advances in the knowledge base of teaching and learning. From their first days considering teaching as a profession through their entire careers, teachers of science develop the skills to analyze their learning needs and styles through self-reflection and active solicitation of feedback from others. They must have the skills to use tools and techniques for self-assessment such as journal writing, study groups, and portfolios and collaborative reflection strategies such as peer coaching, mentoring, and peer consulting.

    Teachers of science should be able to use the Standards and district expectations to set personal goals and take responsibility for their own professional development. Learning is a developmental process that takes time and often is hard work. As does any professional, teachers of science will stumble, wrestle, and ponder, while realizing that failure is a natural part of developing new skills and understanding.

    However, effective teachers know how to access research-based resources and, when faced with a learning need, pursue new knowledge and skills that are based on research or effective practice. Teachers of science need to develop the skills to conduct research in their classrooms on science teaching and learning and be able to share their results with others.

    The integrated knowledge needed to teach science well is developed over time. Thus, the acquisition of the skills for continuous learning should be an explicit component of all learning experiences. As lifelong learners, teachers need to reflect on their experiences and have techniques and the time to do so. Preservice courses must allocate time to teach prospective teachers techniques for reflection, and practicing teachers must be given opportunities to develop these skills as well.

    Many techniques for reflection on practice are available, and their use is becoming more widespread. Self-reflection tools such as journals, audiotapes or videotapes, and portfolios allow teachers to capture their teaching, track their development over time, analyze their progress, and identify needs for further learning. Other techniques include peer observation, coaching, and mentoring beginning teachers in either structured or unstructured settings.

    Teachers also need opportunities to form study groups or hold less-formal sharing sessions. Continuous learning is an active process that will require different norms from those that are presently operative in colleges and in schools: norms of experimentation and risk-taking, of trust and collegial support, and, most relevant to science, of careful and dedicated inquiry.

    Schools in which risk-taking is encouraged will provide learning communities for adults as well as for students. Other learning environments that can provide such conditions are professional networks—collegial groups where teachers. Examples include professional science-teaching associations, state and local organizations, and telecommunications networks. Those types of groups provide safe and rich learning environments in which teachers can share resources, ask and address hard questions, and continue to learn. Being a lifelong learner also requires that teachers have the resources for professional development and the time to use them.

    Such resources include access to formal and informal courses that allow them to keep abreast of current science, access to research on curriculum, teaching, and assessment found in journals and at professional meetings; media and technology to access databases and to analyze teaching; and opportunities to observe other teachers. Conducting formal and informal classroom-based research is a powerful means to improve practice. This research includes asking questions about how students learn science, trying new approaches to teaching, and evaluating the results in student achievement from these approaches.

    Conducting such research requires time and resources.

    Professional development programs for teachers of science must be coherent and integrated. Quality preservice and inservice programs are characterized by. Clear, shared goals based on a vision of science learning, teaching, and teacher development congruent with the National Science Education Standards. Integration and coordination of the program components so that understanding and ability can be built over time, reinforced continuously, and practiced in a variety of situations.

    Options that recognize the developmental nature of teacher professional growth and individual and group interests, as well as the needs of teachers who have varying degrees of experience, professional expertise, and proficiency. Collaboration among the people involved in programs, including teachers, teacher educators, teacher unions, scientists, administrators, policy makers, members of professional and scientific organizations, parents, and business people, with clear respect for the perspectives and expertise of each.

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