Free Pre-Conference Workshop
The UTeach Curriculum and Courses
UTeach is the program to prepare secondary mathematics and science teachers at University of Texas at Austin. UTeach has succeeded in doubling the number of math and science teachers graduating from UT Austin, and compact degree plans have played a role. During this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to view some of the UTeach courses in action, meet with UTeach students, and explore design of courses and the course sequence with UTeach faculty.
Workshop limit - 24 participants
Free Post-Conference Workshop
Interactions in Physical Science
Both the National Science Education Standards (NSES) and the AAA's Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy emphasize the need to use inquiry strategies based on the latest research about teaching/learning to K-12 students. A challenge to addressing this need is that most students in middle school have never experienced this strategy for learning science and many teachers have not had the opportunity to do scientific inquiry or research. Thus implementing an inquiry-based curriculum or doing anything beyond simple laboratory investigations (typically of the cookbook verification type) is not part of their prior experience or strategies they can readily employ.
InterActions in Physical Science* was developed to meet the challenge. Interactions is a NSF supported, standards-based, guided inquiry physical science curriculum for the middle grades that also has a coordinated professional development program for teachers. Both the students' curriculum materials and the teachers' professional development materials are structured around a common pedagogy that was built on research on the teaching and learning of science. In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the Interactions curriculum, experience several activities, and work through part of the accompanying professional development materials that support doing inquiry at the middle-school level.
*Supported by NSF Grant numbers 9812299 and 0138900. Interactions in Physical Science is published by It's About Time, Herff Jones Education Division. See http://www.its-about-time.com/htmls/iaps/iaps.html
Workshop limit - 30 participants
Responding to the Gathering Storm
Mary Ann Rankin, University of Texas at Austin
Opening Remarks on Friday, February 29th
9am - 10:00am, Oaks Room
The National Mathematics and Science Initiative: Taking proven programs to scale
Tom Luce, National Math and Science Initiative
Lunch and Plenary on Friday, February 29th
Noon - 1:30pm, Oaks Room
Mr. Luce's topic will be the importance of replicating successful programs on a national level to address the deficiencies that this country faces in its current K-12 math and science programs.
Early career science teachers: Research that can help build a better foundation
Julie Luft, Arizona State University
Lunch and Plenary on Saturday, March 1st
Noon - 1:30pm, Oaks Room
Science teacher attrition and retention is a topic of frequent discussion among teachers, administrators, university educators, and policy makers. While the solutions pertaining to teacher retention are varied, induction programs are considered essential. Research guiding the development of these programs has traditionally been focused on all teachers, which assumes that one induction program will meet the needs of all teachers. My work for the last 10 years has focused on beginning secondary science teachers and has ranged from designing induction programs for science teachers, to exploring the impact of different induction programs on the knowledge and practices of science teachers. Currently, I am following 120 beginning secondary science teachers as they progress through their first three years of teaching. Data from this study reveals the complexity of being a content specialist and suggests program formats that may better support science teacher learning and instruction. In addition to sharing research about induction, I'll discuss the latest findings from my current study as it pertains to science and physics teachers, and I'll explore practices that ensure beginning teachers strengthen their professional orientation in their early years.
Session 1 Workshops
The Development of UTeach by Master Teachers
Master Teachers have played a critical role in UTeach, the program to prepare secondary science and math teachers at UT Austin, since its inception in 1997. Two of the Master Teachers with longest experience in the program will describe the roles they played in its conception, and the ways they have contributed to its development since.
Learning Assistants (LA's): Re-imagining undergraduate TA's as future pre-college physics teachers
Most physics departments use undergraduate or graduate TA's to enhance the learning experience for the students enrolled in the course. An effective LA program combines the goal of enhancing student learning with the goal of transforming the beliefs, attitudes and career choices of the LA's themselves. In the context of a critical shortage in K-12 physics and physical science teachers, an LA program should have an explicit goal of recruiting and preparing talented physics majors for careers in teaching. In this workshop we will briefly describe the LA program at Seattle Pacific University. We will suggest some critical elements for a successful LA program. The majority of the workshop will be devoted to working collaboratively to identify and develop strategies for implementing, sustaining and improving LA programs in a variety of institutional contexts.
Are you really teaching if no one is learning? How interactive-lecturing can be used to measure and improve student learning.
Edward Prather, University of Arizona, Center for Astronomy Education
When we think about how we were socialized into the world of teaching and learning as university science students, it is not surprising that we tend to practice traditional lecture methods with our students once we start teaching our own courses. Acknowledging that traditional lecture-based instruction is insufficient at promoting significant conceptual gains for our students in introductory science courses is only the first step. But what can we do in the traditional lecture setting that really works? We typically receive little to no training or professional development on instructional strategies that are explicitly designed to challenge students' naïve ideas and intellectually engage their thinking at a level deeper than what is fostered during traditional lecture.
Members of the Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) at the University of Arizona have been developing and conducting research on the effectiveness of learner-centered instructional strategies and materials that put students in an active role in the traditional lecture classroom. The results of this work have been incorporated into a series of "Teaching Excellence Workshops" that members of CAE have been conducting around the nation as part of the NASA Spitzer and JPL Navigator Education and Public Outreach programs. Several examples of these research-informed instructional strategies and materials for promoting interactive-lecturing will be modeled during this session. Active audience participation will be required – no, really, it will be fun, really!!
Session 2 Workshops
How to maximize the impact of a Teacher-in-Residence
This workshop will explore various models that have been used in the preparation of future teachers of physics where Master Teachers (MTs) or Teachers-in-Residence (TIRs) have played a significant role in that preparation. MTs/TIRs have been used at a number of teacher preparation sites around the country, both large and small, and those uses have included one-year, two-year, multiple year and permanent positions in those programs. The pros and cons of such appointments and the MTs/TIRs resulting impact on various aspects of the Learning to Teach Continuum in each of these settings will be discussed.
Michael Marder, University of Texas at Austin
The UTeach Institute, the National Math and Science Initiative, and ExxonMobil are collaborating to replicate UTeach across the United States. Twelve sites have been selected for initial replication. This workshop will describe the strategy behind the replication, the services to be offered by the UTeach Institute, discuss preliminary experiences of replicating institutions, and provide pointers about future competitions for replication funds.
Making use of a Master Teacher's Unique Knowledge to prepare TAs and Learning Assistants
Teaching assistants may come into the job without any teaching experience but may also want to become a teacher after graduation. Traditionally, the teaching assistant position is not one that lends itself to many of the duties of a classroom teacher. A master teacher is in a unique position to lend advice and assistance to these students; master teachers can point to pedagogical issues in the teaching of physics and jump-start the students' thinking about questions that may arise in the first few years of classroom teaching. This unique support benefits the universities by giving them better prepared teaching assistants, TAs and LAs by giving them a support system and mentor, and the master teacher by giving them an outlet for knowledge gained in the classroom. This workshop will deal with general ideas for utilizing master teachers, as well as assist in pinpointing individual strengths and how to make the most of those in a TA/LA training program.
Making a course (and learning gains) portable: the Day-by-day plan
Chance Hoellwarth, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
In an effort to make it easy for interested faculty members to gain experience with active-learning methods, a team of faculty at Cal Poly has developed the "Day-by-day" plan. The Day-by-day is a guide that will get instructors though a quarter-long course in a fairly active-learning mode. The plan includes active-learning activities (discussion questions in Power Point, ILDs, and other demos) that meet the day's goals and the approximate times for their completion. The Day-by-day has also become a tool for mentoring new faculty, a way to get faculty talking about teaching, and way to have a course owned by a group and not by any individual instructor.
In this workshop I will present data showing that the Day-by-day plan produces student-learning gains independent of the instructor, I will describe what the Day-by-day looks like, how it works, and I will discuss how it is being used at Cal Poly. There will be plenty of time for discussion and questions.
Session 3 Workshops
The multiple roles of Teachers-in-Residence (TIRs) at smaller institutions
In this workshop we will describe the diverse responsibilities TIRs have assumed at Seattle Pacific University and California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). We will share both the anticipated and unanticipated benefits of having a TIR working with University faculty to increase the number of science teacher candidates at their respective institutions, to improve their preparation courses, and provide encouragement and support once they enter the classroom. How these positions have been funded and will continue to be funded in the future will also be discussed. A panel of faculty and TIR's from the two institutions will open the floor for questions and comments following individual presentations.
Two-year colleges and future teachers: How can we help you, and vice versa
Dwain Desbien, Estrella Mountain Community College
In this workshop possible connections between Two-Year Colleges (TYC) and PhysTEC institutions will be explored. A goal of the workshop is for the Colleges/Universities and the TYCs to have a better understanding of each others strengths and what roles each can play in helping address the physics teacher shortage in the United States. Brainstorming on how to make the connections and how to build pipe-lines between the Colleges/Universities and TYCs will occur, as will a discussion of how to sustain such partnerships.
Strategies for implementing specific activities in a pedagogy course for LAs
Valerie Otero, University of Colorado at Boulder
This workshop is focused on faculty and TIRs who are currently running or are considering running a pedagogy course for LAs. The workshop is also intended for those who have already attended a similar workshop and received course materials from CU Boulder. In this workshop we will discuss the philosophy, learning objectives, and intent of the course as a whole. We will then look individually at specific activities and discuss common mistakes made when implementing each activity and what to expect from your students when engaging in the activity. We will spend some time discussing issues specific to your population and institutional context.
The Student Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs (SCALE-UP) Project
Bob Beichner, North Carolina State University
Educational research indicates that students should collaborate on interesting tasks and be deeply involved with the material they are studying. The SCALE-UP (Student Centered Activities for Large Enrollment Undergraduate Programs) project promotes active learning in a redesigned classroom of 100 students or more. (Of course, smaller classes can also benefit.) We believe the SCALE-UP Project has the potential to radically change the way large classes are taught at colleges and universities. The social interactions between students and with their teachers appears to be the "active ingredient" that make the approach work. We have seen drastically decreased failure rates, improved conceptual understanding, and better problem solving skills. The pedagogical methods and classroom management techniques are general enough to be used in a wide variety of classes at many different types of colleges. Everything from differential equations to comparative literature has been taught in SCALE-UP classrooms.
Session 4 Workshops
Making the case: The role of data in supporting educational innovations
How can we convert our individual efforts into sustained educational reforms in our institutions? In this working session, we will consider the role of data in effecting systemic educational change locally. We will collectively discuss what types of data collection and analysis may effectively bring about and sustain change, what types of data are relatively easy to collect, and how results from one discipline or institution might effectively be used by others. In particular, what types of data (and analyses) are valued, by whom and how can we use such data to facilitate systemic change? In this interactive working session, we will begin with a presentation of work being conducted in the physics department at CU Boulder, and the role of data collection and dissemination for documenting and promoting systemic change. Sources of data include measures of student conceptual understanding, student attitudes and beliefs with respect to physics (and learning of physics), student affect, demographics, and course performance. Dissemination efforts at our institution include "faculty brown bag lunches", a departmentally focused science education center, targeted University Faculty Teaching Excellence program workshops, explicit support for research in physics education, and inclusive faculty participation in data-collection. We will present a variety of such concrete examples from CU, leading to collective discussion and brainstorming on a broader array of approaches for engaging fellow faculty, including carrots and sticks, local and broad-scale efforts, short-term and long-term activities. Time permitting, working groups will then develop action plans to identify what might (and might not) work with your own institutional constraints.
Providing feedback to improve instruction: A Taste of RTOP
Paul Hickman, Science Education Consultant
How do we break the cycle of "teaching as we were taught?" Will formative feedback accelerate teachers' professional growth? Recent education scholarship asks that teachers include active-learning, inquiry-based, and problem-solving strategies in their science instruction (Beichner, 2004). These reform strategies have been proven to spark student interest in science, help students-especially women and underrepresented minorities-learn more and get better grades, and lead students to enroll in advanced science courses (Handelsman, 2004).
Capturing and analyzing video records, of classroom interactions, has long been used as a powerful tool for educational research, and more recently observation tools have been utilized to provide evidence for changes in teaching practice and teacher growth over time. This workshop will develop the rationale for studying teaching using classroom video and the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol. We will engage participants in the exploratory use of the tool through selected video clips and provide examples of how others have used the RTOP tool.
Math for America: Creating and maintaining a community of mathematics teachers in New York City
Jonathan Schweig, Program Director, Math for America
This session will discuss Math for America's support systems and new teacher induction programming over the first four years of the Math for America Fellowship program in New York City. The MfA Fellowship recruits, trains and supports mathematically talented individuals to become secondary math teachers in New York City's public schools. As the program has grown, MfA has developed a multi-faceted support system that includes mentoring, professional development, community building and leadership opportunities.
CANCELLED - Curriculum Topic Study (CTS)- A systematic approach to uncovering student thinking with CTS-developed tools and processes
Page Keeley, Maine Mathematics and Science Alliance (MMSA)
"The most important single factor influencing learning is what the learner already knows. Ascertain this and teach him accordingly." (Ausubel, 1978) How can purposefully designed formative assessment probes and formative assessment classroom techniques (FACTs) reveal data about student thinking that informs instruction in a K-12 standards-based system? This session will address a systematic way to link core content standards to research on student learning in order to develop and use formative assessments that uncover commonly held ideas that may impede learning.
Participants will examine a variety of tools, resources, and processes developed through the NSF-funded Curriculum Topic Study project and available through NSTA that take teachers through a systematic study process to identify the key ideas and instructional implications related to a topic they teach and apply their findings to the development and use of formative assessment probes. In this interactive session participants will use CTS to deconstruct a formative assessment probe from NSTA's Uncovering Student Ideas in Science series to reveal important linkages to a progression of K-5, 6-8, and 9-12 curriculum standards, examine student work and compare ideas across grade spans, discuss "formative" implications, and learn about additional NSTA resources to expand K-16 teachers' formative assessment repertoire.
Session 5 Workshops
Assessing coherent student understanding in introductory physics courses
Priscilla Laws, Dickinson College
Almost all physics teachers want their students to acquire a deep understanding of the topics they are teaching rather than memorizing equations, facts and simple "plug and chug" algorithms for problem solving. In the past 20 years more and more physics teachers have been using pre- and post tests in their introductory physics courses. These tests are designed to assess whether or not their students are overcoming common learning difficulties and achieving a coherent understanding of various topics.
In this workshop, participants' answers to sample questions from assessments in Newtonian Mechanics, D.C. Electricity, and Analytic Mathematical Modeling will serve as a basis for discussing: (1) how the outcomes of physics education research (PER) are used in the design of assessments; (2) how to administer pre/post tests; (3) How pre and post test scores can be used by instructors to improve their courses and to garner administrative support for reforming courses; and (4) how instructors can use the findings of physics education research and active learning in large and small classes to improve their students' understanding of physics.
A new instrument for measuring pedagogical knowledge of physics teachers
Participants will be introduced to a new instrument for measuring the pedagogical knowledge of prospective and practicing physics teachers. The Flexible Application of Student-Centered Instruction (FASCI) instrument is theoretically and experientially grounded and consists of scenario-based items to which teachers respond in an open-ended fashion. The scoring or responses is simple and straightforward. Participants will become familiar with the FASCI and a current implementation of it. Participants will also explore differences between a new physics-focused FASCI instrument and one that is more general and designed for use with all mathematics and science majors. Upon completion of the workshop, participants will be able to use the FASCI instrument and interpret the results. Participants will also be given the opportunity to participate in a larger implementation and research study evaluating the validity of the FASCI as a measure of strategic knowledge for science teaching.
Recruiting tomorrow's physics teachers: Challenges, opportunities and strategies
Moderator: Rob Thorne, Cornell University
Only one-third of US high school physics teachers have a degree in physics. Only one-third of US high school students take physics. To achieve parity in physics teacher training and student participation with our economic competitors, we may need nine times as many highly trained physics teachers. On the other hand, less than one in four students at four-year colleges and universities takes a college physics class. Only one out of thirty of those who do take a physics class become physics majors. And perhaps only one out of thirty of those physics majors will have careers as high school physics teachers.
How can we tap the tremendous potential of our undergraduate student populations to meet this national need? This panel discussion / brainstorming session will highlight some recruiting methods that have borne fruit and discuss a broader and more diverse attack. Some specific issues for discussion:
- Floating all boats: How to increase the number of physics majors? What can be done at the high school, college recruiting and admissions, and introductory course level?
- Who are our target students? True believers in physics, or those for whom physics is just a useful and interesting tool?
- Flexible majors: How do we design and market the physics major to attract and retain a broader range of students?
- Changing perceptions: How do we make high school physics teaching appealing to teeenagers, and a respectable choice to our physical science faculty colleagues?
- Liberal arts / state colleges versus major research universities: What differences in strategy may be appropriate?
Introduction to a Diagnostic Learning Environment
Research suggests that formative assessment may be the most powerful instructional practice for promoting student learning in all disciplines. When well implemented, formative assessment provides teachers and students the information they need to make both learning and teaching more focused and effective. This session will explore the essential elements of what we term a "diagnostic learning environment"—one in which formative assessment is at the center of instructional decision-making and actions. Participants will also be introduced to the Diagnoser Project Tools to support an effective cycle of teaching and learning. Used formatively, this free online resource can help to "diagnose" and address problematic student thinking in science. The Diagnoser Project Tools initially focused on Motion, Forces, Waves, and Human Body Systems, but new content has recently been added, in the area of Properties of Matter, to target essential building blocks of learning in all areas of science.
Session 6 Workshops
Assessing student understanding, part 2: Attaching meaning to results
Karen Cummings, Southern Connecticut State University
This workshop will build on the foundational information presented in Priscilla Laws' workshop Assessing coherent student understanding in introductory physics courses. Those who consider themselves somewhat new to the use of pre-post assessment to improve student learning are encouraged to attend that workshop prior to this one.
In this workshop we will investigate the subtleties involved in interpreting pre-post assessment results. The questions we will discuss include the following: is it more appropriate to calculate normalized gain or absolute gain, are gains dependent on pre-test scores and/or SAT scores, can gender differences be investigated using standard assessment tools and which conceptual assessment instrument might be best to use in a given environment. Workshop participants will be provided example data sets and published results to consider. These will form the basis for group discussions of potential conclusions. All attendees are strongly encouraged to bring their own laptop computer.
Resource materials for teaching science inquiry
Laura Lising, Towson University
Teaching science methods courses with an emphasis on science as inquiry is challenging and requires a lot of adaptation to changing circumstances, including the particular needs of a given set of preservice or inservice teachers and the local needs of the host schools if the course has a practicum component. At Towson, we have been fairly successful in reforming our science methods and practicum courses to foster inquiry teaching as defined by the National Science Education Standards. To do this, rather than develop a curriculum in the usual sense, we have developed a pool of flexible classroom methods activities and other resources. These resources, available as a free download, can be used as stand alone activities or sequenced in various ways for increased impact. This workshop will introduce participants to some of the different activities and resources and provide a forum for discussing how these might be utilized in different settings.
Physics and Everyday Thinking (PET) and Physical Science and Everyday Thinking (PSET)
Fred Goldberg, San Diego State University
PET and PSET are each one-semester courses that can serve the needs of both prospective and practicing elementary teachers and as a general education science course. Both PET and PSET engage students in four types of activities: (1) standards-based physics or physical science content, (2) nature of science, (3) learning about one's own learning, and (4) learning about the learning of elementary students. PET and PSET use a similar course pedagogy and activity sequence that is guided by research on student learning of physical science. The PET course content focuses on the themes of interactions, energy, forces and fields. PSET focuses on interactions, energy, forces and the small particle theory (including components of the kinetic theory of gases and atomic-molecular theory). During the workshop participants will investigate how the curricula is designed around specific learning principles based on research on learning, and view and discuss video from college PET and PSET classrooms, and from elementary classrooms.
*Supported in part by NSF Grant ESI-0096856. PET and PSET are published by It's About Time, Herff Jones Education Division.
Mentoring using RTOP
Julia Olsen, University of Arizona
In the absence of useful feedback, even the best trained teachers will move away from reformed teaching approaches for more didactic, teacher-centered approaches. In an effort to mitigate this natural tendency to backslide, repeated observations of 10 first-year science teachers were conducted using RTOP as a discussion and feedback tool for the new teachers. Evaluations of new teachers' RTOP scores throughout the year demonstrate their progress as educators, both in their classroom teaching practice and in their attitudes toward teaching. Significant progress was made by these new teachers when RTOP was used as a device for initiating discussion in a mentoring relationship. This workshop will describe the ECISST program and the role of RTOP in providing support for participating teachers. Participants will engage in sample observations with a focus on the discussion and feedback process.
Session 7 Workshops
What is teacher effectiveness and how may it be assessed?
David Meltzer, University of Washington
This workshop will explore various issues related to teacher effectiveness and its assessment, specifically in the context of using research-based, guided-inquiry curriculum and instruction in pre-college physical science classrooms. To begin with, we will discuss the distinction between, on the one hand, direct expressions of effective teaching such as improved student learning and, on the other hand, various factors often identified as contributing to effectiveness. For example, some of these factors are (1) knowledge of physics concepts, (2) knowledge of science "process" skills such as experiment design and analysis, (3) knowledge of "Nature of Science" (practices and philosophies of the scientific community), (4) pedagogical content knowledge (knowledge of and interest in issues related to teaching and learning of specific concepts), and (5) ability to implement effective methods and guide student inquiry while subject to institutional and logistical constraints. We will discuss some of the mutual interactions of these factors and the challenges they pose to making valid overall assessments. Participants will be asked to propose indicators of effective teaching and factors that contribute to it. Working together, participants will generate ideas about how these indicators may be assessed and how the contributing factors may be both developed and assessed.
Early Field Experiences: Their role in shaping and developing skills, dispositions, and teacher identity
"I can't believe how much school has changed since I graduated!" This phrase is commonly heard from pre-service secondary teachers when placed in a field experience. Instructors often shake their heads when they hear this coming from teacher education candidates that are just 1-3 years from high school graduation. Early field experiences, especially early field experiences that are early teaching experiences, help pre-service teachers move from looking at school through a student perspective to examining school from a teacher perspective. Early field experiences help candidates develop observational skills, communication skills, and instructional skills. Candidates learn how to become a member of a learning community and develop their teaching identity. Presenters will discuss some of these and other benefits of early field experiences, share some challenges, and encourage participants to do the same. Presenters will share activities and rubrics from their elementary and secondary programs, focusing on ones that foster these benefits and address the most common challenges. Participants are encouraged to come prepared to share materials and activities from their programs.
How do you know if they're getting it: Writing assessment items that reveal student understanding
Sean Smith, Horizon Research
Through its ATLAST project, HRI has in recent years developed an approach to writing student assessment items that are valid, reliable, and particularly effective at revealing student thinking. The process yields multiple choice items that demand much more than simple recall of terms. During this session, participants will receive a brief overview of principles for writing effective items. For the rest of the session, participants will engage with these item-writing principles by collaboratively writing, discussing, critiquing, and revising assessment items.
Participants are encouraged to bring laptop computers to this session.
The role of physics education researchers in improving teacher education: Faculty, pedagogy, context, and climate
Moderator: Ted Hodapp
Knowledge of how and why people learn physics and how they are most effectively taught has improved dramatically over the past two decades. Education researchers are at the forefront of this improvement and although the largest emphasis in the Physics Education Research (PER) has been on the introductory college level course, much of what has been learned directly impacts teacher education and pedagogical understanding essential to high quality instruction. Teacher education programs that lack PER practitioners consequently lack direct access to innovations in the field in much the same way physics students might not learn about the latest techniques if their faculty does not include practicing experimentalists. In this session we will explore some of the ways in which PER faculty have directly and indirectly affected the success of teacher education programs.