Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Private Universe Project in Science

Workshop 7. Environmental Science: Taking a Risk (90 min.)

Whom do we see in the videotape?
Terez Waldoch, a fourth-grade teacher, decides to try a new approach to teaching and bases her instruction on student ideas. Her colleagues, administrators, students and their parents, however, have different expectations for the classroom. With her reputation on the line, Terez must decide if her new methods are more effective than her former traditional approach.

What happens in the videotape?
A class of fourth grade students poses questions they want answered about the decomposition of matter. Guided by their teacher, the students propose and execute experiments, presenting and debating their results.

What problem does this session address?
Should we just teach the "facts"? Teachers agree that the "new" approaches are compelling, yet few practice them. There are reasons for this avoidance: a lack of enough time, the need for classroom control, pressure from parents to teach the "basics," demands by administrators for more "coverage," and preparation for standardized tests. Can teachers afford to take the risks of resisting these pressures to teach in a new way?

What teaching strategy does this session offer?
How can a teacher create a safe environment in the classroom and allow students to take risks? Supporting this goal requires educated parents and administrators.


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