For the past several years I have been supporting pre-service and inservice teachers with the use of the Claim, Evidence and Reasoning (CER) framework for scaffolding students’ writing and talking about scientific explanations and arguments. This framework provides a common language for discussing the elements of powerful explanations and arguments. It isn’t a formula to memorize but a framework for support and improvement.
I have used the following books in professional development and also in college courses I’ve taught. I highly recommend these:
Together these books provide a very clear and engaging look at how to use a Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) framework to improve student writing and discourse in science. The CER framework can support not only science explanations but also the Common Core State Standards’ focus on using evidence and argumentation in math and English/Language Arts.
Over the years, I’ve developed some tools that could be useful for professional development providers, professional learning communities, and ultimately students who are engaging with a CER framework.
1. An activity for writing a scientific explanation of whether soap and fat are the same substance. This is directly from the first book with some added reflective questions for teachers. This could be used as an initial activity with teachers before revealing the CER framework. CER writing an explanation fat and soap
2. A set of 3 Formative Assessment Probes (based on Page Keeley’s work) to uncover student ideas about science explanations- the probes include a DRAFT facilitation guide. Feel free to improve these:
3. A video “think sheet” for participants to track their thinking while watching the first video clip from the book where a teacher introduces the CER framework to a class of 7th graders- introducing CER framework vid 2.1 think sheet
Please let me know if you have any revisions/changes/improvements to any of these documents. Hope these are helpful… enjoy.
I’ll add a few other resources in an upcoming post. What CER resources have you found most useful in your own work with students?
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This is the time of the year when a new group of science TOSAs (teachers on special assignment) tend to enter the realm of school district office science support. Now you may have a different term than TOSA in your neck of the woods- but basically this is a position where a classroom teacher continues to be paid a teacher salary (with perhaps a few extra hours thrown in) but does district office administrative level work to support science implementation.
Over the last 10 years I have worked with and supported many people in these Science TOSA positions and I’ve noticed that many school districts do not adequately support those who take on these positions. The skillset of a successful classroom science teacher is often not the same skillset necessary to be a successful science education leader. I’ve also noticed that there are a huge variety of roles that these Science TOSAs might be expected to take on- here are a few that come to mind:
- Science Curriculum and Assessment expert K-5, MS, HS or all 3
- Mentor teacher
- Instructional coach
- Professional Development Designer and Provider
- Meeting coordinator and facilitator
- Science Materials Manager
- Science Curriculum Review Committee Leader
- and so much more
Some skills that Science TOSAs may need (that may differ from classroom teaching):
- advocating for science instruction within your own district
- working in uncertain and ever-changing environments
- working with mostly adults (vs mostly kids)
- navigating school district politics
- managing a budget
While the following is not an exhaustive list- here are a few books that I highly recommend for the beginning Science TOSA. By the way- most of these are not science education specific. I’ll post a Part 2 in the future with some of my favorite science ed resources for new TOSAs.
Designing Professional Development for Teachers of Math and Science (3rd edition) This is an oldie but a goody- the framework for developing and planning PD is just as effective and useful today.
Leading Every Day: 124 Actions for Effective Leadership A set of short snippets that can be used personally or with small groups to focus on leadership.
Cognitive Coaching: A Foundation for Renaissance Schools Another oldie- but this book provides an excellent framework for coaching and working with adults.
Choreography of Presenting A short and readable guide on effectively presenting to adults.
Evaluating Professional Development So you’re delivering PD…but how are you evaluating the effectiveness of that PD? This is the book to get you started.
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Horizon Research, Inc recently released their findings from the 2018 National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education (NSSME+). The plus sign signifies the inclusion of some computer science in the survey. This project surveyed over 7k teachers of science, math, and computer science across the US.
This report provides some excellent evidence for future research, district implementation, teacher education, professional development, curriculum development and much more. The survey itself might be of interest to many and provides a strong model for developing surveys.
Click HERE to visit the NSSME+ site
Click HERE to download the report
Overview: Achieve recently released two tools for screening and reviewing science assessment tasks- the Science Task Prescreen and the Science Task Screener. These tools will be necessary additions to your toolbox of NGSS assessment resources.
Purpose: The Science Task Prescreen (my personal favorite) is a 1-pager with 8 questions that an individual or group can use to quickly review an assessment task and make some decisions about how and if it requires modification to meet the expectations of NGSS assessment shifts. The Science Task Screener is a more substantial tool that could be used for more in-depth review and modification of assessment tasks.
Audience: Teachers, curriculum developers, assessment writers, PD providers, teacher educators, others
OVERVIEW: In the state of Washington we are committed to engaging K-12 students in learning about climate science and climate change. For the 2018-19 school year our state has funded an initiative that will provide tools and professional development to support thoughtful implementation of climate science learning opportunities. I’m hoping that this space will be able to promote many of the resources that are developed and used during this process.
One resource that has bubbled to the top for me is Drawdown.org. Drawdown provides 100 everyday solutions that humans can implement to reverse global climate change. I know several teachers who worry that the teaching of climate change- especially with younger students- can be scary for the children. Draw Down (while not sugar-coating anything) is very solution-oriented and can put students in a positive space rather than doom and gloom.
PURPOSE: The proposed solutions on Drawdown are completely research-based and include some intuitive solutions that you might have predicted (rooftop solar) and others that might seem less intuitive (educating girls & telepresence). The book Drawdown is also a “must-have” climate resource to add to your collection.
AUDIENCE: all the humans
OVERVIEW: The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) recently released a document to support and encourage K-12 educators to provide clear and explicit language and prompts to integrate the Crosscutting Concepts into instruction and assessment practices.
PURPOSE: Using Crosscutting Concepts to Prompt Student Responses serves many purposes. For one, it continues to tell the story that the CCCs are a powerful (and underused) dimension of NGSS-based instruction. The document connects multiple existing resources on the CCCs and provides new tools and examples for how the use the CCCs to design prompts and how CCCs might be used by students in their responses.
AUDIENCE: K-12 teachers of science, administrators, PD providers, teacher educators, curriculum and assessment developers, etc
There is still room at this impactful upcoming event in the South Puget Sound Region. See below for description and registration link.
The Bethel School District and the Puyallup Watershed Initiative are partnering to offer this 2-day workshop on Phenomena & Units for Environmental Justice.
Title: Phenomena & Units for Environmental Justice.
Location: Graham-Kapowsin High School
Dates: June 25 & Aug. 22 , 2018 (8:00 – 3:30)
Presenters: Lia Wetzstein, Emily Pinckney, Tom Hathorn
● Inspire students with local phenomena and problems that matter to their community.
● Support student aspirations toward STEM-related careers.
● Integrate NGSS PEs about humans in relation to the environment (LS2, LS4, ESS2, ESS3).
● MS & HS Science Teachers (all subjects), Administrators
● School Districts in the South Sound LASER Alliance
What: Day 1
● Meet & study local environmental justice issues → Analyze the systems & who’s affected.
● Unpack natural & human structures → How did things get this way? What keeps it stable?
● Use the NGSS engineering cycle (D-D-O) → Solving environmental problems = engineering .
● Discover & use local STEM issues → Use students’ interests & cultural-community practices.
● Begin planning → Activities or small units that utilize local phenomena or problems.
What: Day 2
● Share emerging units → Give & get ideas.
● NSTA resources for teaching controversial topics → See opportunities & pitfalls.
● Use students’ voices → Guide the dialogue & discussions.