Science in the City by Bryan A. Brown

science in the city coverScience in the City: Culturally Relevant STEM Education by Bryan A. Brown of Stanford University is a true gift to the science education community. I’ve been using a YouTube video of Dr. Brown discussing science, language and identity for several years in workshops and with my pre-service science teachers (see embedded video below). Dr. Brown has taken the ideas in the short video and built them into an engaging, readable and important book.

Science in the City is an easy read largely due to Dr. Brown’s writing style and his use of story to couch the ideas that he’s presenting to us- he’s also modeling for us what he wants us to do with students! The stories are everyday events that illustrate language, identity, and race. One of my favorites is from early in the book when Dr. Brown reminds us of a post-game interview that Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston gave on TV in 2014 following a victory in the national championship game.  After the interview Mr. Winston’s interview was met on social media with a barrage of criticism including a tweet saying, “Am I listening to English?” This criticism was countered by tweets from Lebron James and Reggie Bush praising Mr. Winston’s leadership, interview skill, and talk. Dr. Brown puts this in front of us to make the point that schools tend to value “academic English” and that many folks working in educational systems have a bias for (and against) certain types of talk. We are often missing out on the brilliance of students of color based on these biases.

If you have done any work on student discourse in science this book will resonate with you and likely push you to think deeper about how to interrogate educational systems for more culturally relevant language practices in science classrooms.

Here is a quote from the book that illustrates what Science in the City is all about:

If there is a single message that serves as the foundation for this book it is the idea that there is no cultural distance between students of color and a successful science education.

The final chapter of the book does a clear and concise job of presenting a small but powerful set of instructional practices to implement in science classrooms:

  • Disaggregate Instruction
  • Generative Formative Assessment
  • Culturally Based Cognitive Apprenticeship Instruction
  • Technology as a Cultural Mediator

I highly recommend adding Science in the City to your set of science education resources. I’d also love to hear from anyone else who has been digging into this book.

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Puget Sound Region Only: High School Climate Science Workshop Series

My colleague, Tom Hathorn, and I are facilitating a workshop series on Climate Science for High School Science Teachers in the Puget Sound Region of Washington State. The series starts October 23rd and we still have a few seats left- so register soon at the link below if you’re interested in joining us.

Who: HS Science teachers in King & Pierce Counties

Where: Sumner School District Office (1202 Wood Ave, Sumner, WA 98390)

When: Face to Face- Oct. 23, Jan. 15, Mar. 24 (8am-3pm)

When: Online- Nov. 20, Dec. 11, Feb. 12, Mar. 4 (4-5:30pm)

What you get: Learning, collaboration, sub coverage, STEM clock hours, Stipend pay for after-school online meetings

Overview:

  • Inspire all students to participate in understanding and challenging climate science problems, especially mitigating environmental injustice where they live.
  • Use student voice tools as inputs for shaping climate science learning and developing student leadership.
  • Join a regional group of high school teachers who are knowledgeable about using the NGSS innovations to integrate Climate Science (ESS2 & ESS3) with other sciences.
  • Develop Climate Science curriculum objects (learning/assessment tasks, lesson activities, activity sequences) to use in HS science courses.
  • Participate in a public Climate Forum, sharing student and teacher projects.

Registration: pdenroller.org/psesd/Catalog/Event/97616

Click HERE for the flyer with more information

 

 

 

 

Developing a State Assessment System: Nebraska’s Story

Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 10.07.36 AMThe state of Nebraska is on a journey to develop a comprehensive state science assessment system that not only includes a state-wide summative assessment system (grades 5, 8, & 11) for science but also:

 

 

  • Curriculum Embedded Science Tasks (K-12)
  • Science Task Library (K-12)
  • Monitoring Tasks (Grades 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10)

If you’d like to know more about this work, check out the overview from Achieve HERE.

A Framework to Evaluate Cognitive Complexity in Science Assessments by Achieve

Achieve just released A Framework to Evaluate Cognitive Complexity in Science Assessments. This short document features a rubric for rating scenarios and the 3 Dimensions in assessment items and item sets. The focus is on cognitive complexity that supports students sense-making during the assessment.

Below is a table showing the “3000 ft” view of the rubric. A more detailed version of the tool is also available.

Screen Shot 2019-09-30 at 1.34.03 PM

Here are the 3 principles of this framework:

  1. Each item receives separate judgments for each of the four indicators.
  2. No value judgments are attached to complexity levels.
  3. Designed based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education, the framework is designed to work flexibly with all new three-dimensional science standards.

I know that several school districts, schools and teachers are working on designing, adapting or simply shopping for quality science assessment items. This looks like another tool to support your work. Enjoy.

Book: Thing Explainer- Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Monroe

screen-shot-2017-01-11-at-8-02-51-pmFile this one under “fun” but I’m sure most science educators can find several uses for this book with students. I have owned Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Monroe (Creator of xkcd) for a couple of years. I keep it in my office and every so often I find myself opening it up and spending several minutes examining the brilliant labeled diagrams (they are amazing detailed systems models) that show how common and important living and designed systems work.

Mr. Monroe committed to using only the “ten hundred” most common words. This constraint creates a beautiful simplicity that gets to the essence of these systems. As science teachers we can learn a lesson from this. Too often we value vocabulary words as evidence of student understanding. Perhaps we should push more for simplified explanations that use everyday language.

I think that any human being will find this book to be interesting and any scientist, engineer, or STEM educator will also find it to be inspiring and valuable. There is something about the clearly illustrated systems models that mesh perfectly with the vision of the Next Generation Science Standards. This book also makes a wonderful gift.

AUDIENCE: all

LINK: Thing Explainer

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Great Picture Book: Cece Loves Science

Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 6.59.01 PMOVERVIEW: My daughter Cece is 9 years old and last fall we were walking through a Barnes & Noble (yes they still have those!) and we saw a display for a picture book titled Cece Loves Science. My daughter saw the display and shouted, “I DO love science!”

I’ve been using science and engineering related picture books for two decades- both with children and adult learners. I look forward to thinking about how I will use Cece Loves Science (by Kimberly Derting and Shelli R. Johannes, illustrated by Vashti Harrison) with the preservice and inservice teachers I support.

The picture book tells the story of a young girl of color, Cece, who loves to ask questions and figure things out. In the story, Cece and her best friend Isaac, are trying to figure out the best way to conduct an investigation involving her dog, Einstein.

This book has been out for over a year and I’m interested to hear how folks have used this picture book with students. I’d love to hear some stories.

PURPOSE: In the last few years we have seen a much-needed increase in the number of STEM-focused picture books with main characters representing populations who have traditionally been marginalized in STEM- females and people of color. Cece Loves Science is another resource to add to our toolbox that highlights the exceptional thinking of young ladies and positions them as the determined problem-solvers  that they are.

AUDIENCE: children, adults, educators, teacher educators, librarians, informal science educators

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inquiryHub (iHub) Biology: Free Full Year HS NGSS Bio Units

Screen Shot 2019-09-22 at 2.01.56 PMThe inquiryHub (iHub) biology landing page provides a full-year high school life science course that is 3 Dimensional and built for the Next Generation Science Standards. These materials were developed by teachers from Denver Public Schools collaborating with the University of Colorado Boulder and Northwestern University. This team designed three units that meet the expectations of the high school life science performance expectations in NGSS. These units have been content reviewed by a group of scientists and have also been reviewed for NGSS Quality by Achieve.

In my neck of the woods we have many high schools where biology is taught using either outdated or homemade materials that may not meet the vision of the NGSS. These types of readily available online materials from iHub not only model the types of instructional units that we need for high school students but also provide a cost effective way for schools and districts to access high quality materials.

iHub Biology contains the following resources:

The units are built on the founding principles of 3D science instruction including:

  • Engaging Phenomena
  • Coherent storylines
  • Student use of SEPs and CCCs
  • Assessments of and for learning

Please chime in and leave a comment if you’ve used these materials. Enjoy!