If you are anything like me, then the very end of July and beginning of August is a time when you start thinking about getting back to your “school brain”. By this I mean that I’m still in vacation mode, but I start to think about a few things I want to implement in the new school year and maybe start reading a professional book (or two) to get reenergized and ready for the year.
A perfect book for us science-minded folks is Ambitious Science Teaching. This book came out last year and is a long-awaited companion and synthesis of the great work by the Ambitious Science Teaching group at the University of Washington. Here is a post I wrote almost 10 years ago on Ambitious Science Teaching when this blog first launched (dead links and all).
I ran an online book study of Ambitious Science Teaching last school year with a group of regional science leaders and found that leading a study of the book really helped me to dig in closely- in contrast to my usual “skimming” of professional books. Working with a group of science education leaders rather than practicing teachers brought a different lens to the conversations and allowed us all to think about how we could implement the methods, strategies, and vision of the book in multiple contexts as we continue to support shifts in classroom science instruction.
Table 1.1 above is one of the initial text features you encounter early in the text. I appreciate how this table is different than the typical “more of this…less of this” type of table about science instruction. Here we are able to see strengths and honor those strengths while acknowledging that there are serious struggles… and that the struggles may be different than what many classroom teachers, district administrators and others in the system might predict. If we rally around these struggles then we can focus our energy and professional learning on solving these. And that is exactly what the rest of Ambitious Science Teaching does- it provides us with a multitude of strategies and instructional behaviors to implement in our science classrooms in order to supplant the struggles.
I hope to keep chatting about AST throughout this school year and to hear from others who are using the book. By examining the book we will be able to dig into some important topics in science instruction:
- asking effective questions and managing productive discourse
- engaging students in developing and using models
- teaching for understanding
- leveraging students’ ideas over the arch of learning and figuring out
Here are some initial questions to respond to in the comments:
Have you read (or are you reading) Ambitious Science Teaching? What are you finding most useful about the text? How are you planning to implement ideas from the book in your classroom?