What is “Ambitious Science Teaching”?

What is Ambitious Science Teaching

Who is an ambitious science teacher?

What does teaching and learning look like in a classroom that practices Ambitious Science Teaching?

The authors of Ambitious Science Teaching provide the following visual to formulate an initial understanding and provide a framework to answer these types of questions. According to Ambitious Science Teaching, teaching and learning are guided by intellectually engaging experiences, phenomena and content, of which are grounded in providing equitable opportunities for all students throughout the learning process. Please visit here to learn more about Ambitious Science Teaching!

Image result for ambitious science teaching

If you have taken the opportunity to check out the Ambitious Science Teaching (AST) website you are probably feeling excited, intrigued, and innovative. You may also be feeling a bit overwhelmed. How can I, as an educator, implement the practices of an ambitious science teacher in my classroom successfully? Let’s start by taking a look at a smaller chunk. AST presents the following seven foothold practices as those which are key to building a classroom environment where reform-minded teaching and learning succeeds!

Ambitious Science Teaching: 7 Foothold Practices

  • Scaffolds to make students’ initial ideas public”
  • Responsive Talk: How students use vocabulary”
  • “Using back-pocket questions to make sense of activities”
  • Using a gallery walk to critique student models and explanations”
  • “Everyday language and science language”
  • “Comparing students’ science ideas: scaffolding debate”
  • “Creating a “Gotta-Have” Checklist
    • Check out James’ blog this week to learn more about this practice!

This week the GR!S Cohort is working collaboratively to define each of these seven practices in our own practice. Check out each of these practices in the classroom setting by watching the videos included for each! Before you start watching, read How to Learn from Video: The 7 Basics to guide your learning!

Let’s take a closer look at the first foothold practice: Scaffolds to make students’ initial ideas public! 

First, check out the video below:

Here are the key take-a-ways I have recorded as I continue to develop a working definition for this core foothold practice in my own teaching. I have used the Task-Tools-Talk framework as outlined by AST.

  • Task
    • Situate new content in authentic and meaningful learning experiences rich in ideas that require students to access prior experiences and language.
    • Situate new vocabulary (content discipline language) in familiar, student language and experiences.
    • Allow time for students to discuss ideas, explore new paths and engage in peer feedback.
    • Strategy: Phenomena based inquiry (See: Next Generation Science Standards)
  • Tools
    • Provide the resources students need in order to take on intellectual problems (Engle & Conant, 2002).
    • Strategy: Sentence frames (making the distinction between nice and helpful feedback)
    • Provide explicit directions and examples (take away scaffolding gradually)
    • Strategy: Post-It Note feedback method
  • Talk
    • Encourage and facilitate student autonomy.
    • Facilitate meta-cognition (“thinking about thinking”) through the development and use of classroom discussion.
    • Strategy: Gallery Walk

As always, I hope you will join our conversation and share your noticings and wonderings regarding Ambitious Science Teaching in the comment section below! Use the following sentence starter to begin the conversation:

An ambitious science teaching practice I employ (or can see myself using) is ________________.


Ambitious Science Teaching. Retrieved from:https://ambitiousscienceteaching.org/.

Engle, R.A., & F.R. Conant. (2002). Guiding Principles for Fostering Productive Disciplinary Engagement: Explaining an Emergent Argument in a Community of Learners Classroom. Cognition and Instruction, 20(4): 399-483.

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  1. Pingback: Ambitious Science Teaching for Flat-Earthers – Danielle's GRS Blog

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