Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Life Science: Session 8

MaryAnn Bernstein, Burlington, MA

Mary Bitterlich

“If kids are going to spend their time learning this material, investigating this material, it’s important that their time be used well, and simply touching on the main ideas or the vocabulary involved doesn’t leave them with any kind of understanding of the topic. In order for me to do that, I need to know what I’m teaching, I need to know the background, and it really has required a fair amount of research on my part, to be able to feel comfortable to field their questions and to be able to give them those big ideas that are important for them to keep when we leave the topic.”

School at a Glance:
Fox Hill School

  • Location: Burlington, MA
  • Enrollment: 502
  • Ethnicity:
    88% White
    8% Asian
    3% African American
  • Percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch: 6% versus a state average of 28%

MaryAnn Bernstein teaches third grade at the Fox Hill School in Burlington, MA, an affluent suburb about 20 miles north of Boston. Students at the school consistently score well above state averages on state tests and only 6% of them receive a free or reduced-price lunch. About 88% of the Fox Hill School’s students are white.

In the past several years, state standards in Massachusetts have become more specific and have required teachers to cover new, and often more numerous, topics in science. With less time to spend on each topic, MaryAnn has noticed that she needs to focus carefully on the big or essential ideas in each lesson if her children are to build meaningful understandings.

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