Category Archives: equity & diversity

UW Climate & Environmental Justice FREE Course & Resources

Philip Bell and Nancy Price have shared a graduate course they taught at the University of Washington on Climate Justice and Environmental Justice in Education during winter quarter 2021. The entire course has a nicely organized Google Site built to tell the story of the learning. You will be able to walk through the 10 sessions using the embedded slides, readings and videos. There is a nicely organized set of Resources used as well as a Wakelet that organizes many other Climate Justice resources.

In order to get a good sense of the course before digging in, I recommend checking out the following:

  • About the Course: This gives you a 1-page overview with guiding questions and key resources
  • Course Readings: Scroll over the page to get a preview of the sessions. Pay attention to the quotes and session titles
  • Projects: Preview the projects that small groups of graduate students engaged in

I can imagine this resource being used in multiple ways:

  • Work through the sessions independently as a learner
  • Assemble a small group of colleagues and collaboratively move through the course together
  • Harvest important resources for your own learning and work
  • Use this as a model for teaching your own course or unit on Climate and Environmental Justice

My Top 4 Science Education Books of 2020

2020 has provided many of us with some extra time for reading. While I haven’t always used this time wisely (I’m looking at you Netflix and Nintendo Switch) I wanted to share the 4 books that I’ve discovered and revisited the most in 2020. The following are in no particular order.

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer

This is not a traditional education book. You will not find a bunch of acronyms or quick strategies for teaching indigenous students. Instead you will find a series of stories that will change the way you think about your relationship with the natural world, with scientific understanding and with indigenous ways of knowing and being. You may find that your relationships with plants will be forever changed. I notice that I want to return to this book over and over- I intentionally leave it out in my office so that I have easy access to it. Not just because it is so good and captivating but because these lessons are deep and require constant revisitation in order to take hold in me. In 2020 this book really brought me a comfort and a connectedness with nature that I think I needed. One of my favorite reads in the last several years.

Ambitious Science Teaching by Mark Windschitl, Jessica Thompson, and Melissa Braaten

This book has become a touchstone for so many best practices in science instruction. While this is not a new book it is one that still feels fresh and innovative (because it is). In setting a standard for rigorous and equitable science instruction this book demands that we examine our core practices in science instruction and replace traditional methods with science learning that is focused on big ideas that allow students to uncover and revise their ideas based on evidence. This is not a book to just “take away” a couple of cool strategies to implement. This is about a culture shift in how we design and deliver science learning experiences that actually engage our students in the practices of science.

Science in the City by Bryan A. Brown

I have mentioned Science in the City previously and I just can’t say enough positives about it. Dr. Brown skillfully uses stories to ground this work and to teach us about the relationship between language, identity, and culture. If you give this book the opportunity, it can help you to change the way you think about your instruction in a diverse science classroom. I feel like this book makes a great partner to Ambitious Science Teaching and helps to expand and push on the importance of language and talk in science learning as an equity issue. This is an essential book to add to your equity and diversity resources and I’d argue that even if you are not a teacher of science that you will find this book to be meaningful and important to your work supporting students.

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

How to be An Antiracist is a popular book and for good reason. I’m assuming that many of us in education have purchased or received this book. Hopefully it isn’t just sitting on the shelf. This resource (like Braiding Sweetgrass above) demands repeat readings…especially if you are a white person like myself. Becoming an antiracist educator isn’t simple work. This book isn’t like a vaccine where you read it once and then have “immunity”. It requires doing some work on ourselves (which I think is always challenging for us as human beings) and then interrogating the policies and beliefs in whatever domain we work in from education to health care to non-profit, etc. Dr. Kendi has an amazing talent for using his own life story to introduce us to the work of antiracism and to guide and support us to go deeper in our own journey to becoming antiracists. If you haven’t picked this up or if you haven’t looked at it since the summer then I highly recommend digging in.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Indigenous Education Tools

Indigenous Education Tools is a growing site (check back for new resources often) that offers teaching tools and resources that address the “root causes of inequities for Native children and families, and by supporting the development of innovative successful educational pathways.”

A few highlights of the current resources on the site include:

  • A set of short briefs in the style of STEM Teaching Tools that dig into topics in education of Indigenous peoples:
  • A set of videos led by leaders in Indigenous education. See interview with Michael Tulee below as an example:

  • A set of Learning Materials (from ISTEAM) based around Water, Food, Birds and Plants. Everything on this site is powerful but I find these materials to be the highlight for me personally. These materials highlight well-crafted activities and also provide models of what well-designed learning activities might look like when designed for Indigenous learners. See the set on Water below:
  • Online workshops to engage in asynchronously

I also highly recommend adding @IndigenousSTEAM to your Twitter feed so that you can stay on top of the latest from this group.

Learning from Dr. Ibram X. Kendi

IMG_5043I’m assuming that many of us in education and science education are spending time this summer digging into (or revisiting) Dr. Ibram X. Kendi‘s book How to be an Antiracist. In future posts, I’ll share some of my thoughts and learnings from the book and some connections I see with science education. But for now I just wanted to “introduce” Dr. Kendi for those who may not know of his work.

Below you will find links to a variety of online resources that range from short appearances on talk shows to podcasts and webinars. While it’s impossible to summarize the depth of Dr. Kendi’s work in a few words I think in education a good start is the idea that it’s not enough for us to be not racist…we need to be actively antiracist and thoughtfully interrogate curricula, assessments, policies, procedures, discipline structures, (and so much more) in our educational systems.

A. Dr. Kendi on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

B. Dr. Kendi on the Armchair Expert podcast with Dak Shepard

C. Dr. Kendi on a recent 1-hour online workshop (this link may expire in a month from posting)

FREE Chapter: Toward More Equitable Learning in Science

Screen Shot 2020-07-10 at 12.54.41 PMThe National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) currently has a FREE chapter from the book Helping Student Make Sense of the World using Next Generation Science & Engineering Practices. This book is a compilation of chapters from multiple authors. The FREE chapter is Toward More Equitable Learning in Science by Megan Bang, Bryan Brown, Angela Calabrese Barton, Ann Rosebery, and Beth Warren.

The chapter lays out 3 Principles for expanding meaningful learning opportunities in science:

  • Principle 1: Notice sense-making repertoires. Attend to, listen to, and think about students’ diverse sense-making as connecting to science practices.

  • Principle 2: Support sense-making. Actively support students in using their sense-making repertoires and experiences as critical tools in engaging with science practices.

  • Principle 3: Engage diverse sense-making. Engage students in understanding how scientific practices and knowledge are always developing and how their own community histories, values, and practices have contributed to scientific understanding and problem solving and will continue to do so.

I think that some of us as science teachers might look at these principles and say, “Yes- I think I do that.” OR “I’m not sure what this means exactly.”

This chapter uses three vignettes to clarify these three principles that are crying out for examples.

Not sure how long this chapter will stay on the NSTA site as a FREE download so grab it now.

Equity & Diversity Resources Pt. 1

I know that a lot of educators are digging into books on equity and diversity this summer. Here are a few resources that have been key in my personal journey as a white male looking to become more culturally aware, equity-focused, and anti-racist. I will keep adding to this list. I’m aware that many excellent resources are currently not included here. I’m not trying to make an exhaustive list on this first post- but instead providing a ‘playlist’ of the resources that I’ve used personally and that feel like good starting places for others.

TITLE Overview Author Link
Culturally Responsive Teaching & The Brain THE book on culturally responsive teaching. Provides tools and strategies to dig into CRT. Clear discussion of how a lack of CRT affects students. Zaretta Hammond Click HERE
Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People Describes the Project Implicit implicit association tests. Discusses how we all have unconscious biases (even ones we don’t want) and how these may affect us. Makes the case that we must confront and think about these “mindbugs”. Mahzarin R. BanajiAnthony Greenwald Click HERE
For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood…and the Rest of Y’all Too Provides stories, a framework, and strategies for effectively teaching urban students of color. Lots of wisdom here. Christopher Emdin Click HERE

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

My Statement to My Fellow White Folks

The horrific murder of Mr. George Floyd, caught on video for all to see, is a graphic and disturbing reminder of what communities of color have had to navigate for centuries. While we absolutely must seek justice for the Floyd family we cannot stop there. This moment must be bigger than that.

For some white folks it is more comfortable to conceive of this event as the result of just a few “bad apples”. This is the result of a system that clearly needs reform. By the way- all of our systems need reform. From education to health care and beyond- people of color experience a different reality from what I experience as a white man navigating the same systems.

I’m so discouraged when I see white folks in my community, online, and on TV who just don’t believe or don’t accept the experiences of people of color.

I believe people of color when they share about their multiple negative encounters with the police.

I believe people of color when they share their experiences of walking down the street in America.

I believe people of color when they share what it feels like to be monitored and followed when shopping in a clothing store.

I believe people of color when they describe how they prepare their sons and daughters for that inevitable encounter with a police officer.

I believe the teachers of color who fear losing their jobs after continuously speaking up about injustices in their school.

I believe my former elementary students of color when they describe the low expectations (and worse) that they have experienced in our school systems K-12 and beyond.

I believe my college students of color when they describe their experiences navigating relentless biases and prejudices in and out of school.

I believe the data on the difference in health outcomes that people of color experience in our hospitals.

I believe the white woman who doesn’t want her black husband going for a run here in my own community because she fears for his life. He runs near his work in Tacoma instead.

I believe the woman of color who didn’t want her young son to ride his bike home this past Monday because there was racial profiling happening in her neighborhood. She picked him up in her car instead.

I believe my wife when she decides to not have some of her staff come to her workplace this week when there was a militia of heavily armed white men just a few blocks away. I believe that she felt afraid for their safety.

I believe it is time for us as white folks to step up. The case has been made. People of color are pleading with us to finally act. I also believe that many people of color are beyond exhausted with us. We need to stop being silent. We need to stop expecting the oppressed to be the only ones to fix the very systems that oppress them. WE need to fix this!

Online PD: How to Support Home-Based Science Learning

The STEM Teaching Tools team/site recently hosted a Zoom professional development session titled- ClimeTime Professional Learning Session: How to Support Home-Based Science Learning During School Closures…it’s a catchy title to be sure.

Click the link HERE to see the presenters, goals, and resources. The video is embedded below. Enjoy!

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.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.