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Transformations Profile

Sustaining Responsive and Rigorous Teaching Based on Carbon: Transformations in Matter and Energy


Successful science teachers need high quality teaching materials, sustained professional development opportunities, and a school structure that aligns local goals and policies, and supports sustained teacher networks. This project addresses all three of these essential elements in the context of a key topic in the sciences: the role of carbon in the flow of materials and energy through living systems, human engineered systems, and Earth systems at multiple scales. The project builds on previously funded projects that have developed student learning progressions for these topics, and it will develop and test a new professional development model for teachers that is based on a teacher learning progression framework. The framework is based on four core teaching and learning practices advocated by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS): formative assessment, inquiry, explanations, and decision making. Online and in-person teacher networks will also be developed and studied for their effects on teacher knowledge and practices, and on student learning.

The project engages the University of Michigan, the National Geographic Society, the Seattle Public Schools, the Institute for Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, and others in a partnership spanning schools in four states, in diverse sociocultural settings, and located in urban, suburban, and rural environments. Case-study methods will be used to develop the teacher learning progression, including analyses of written assessments, online data capture techniques, interviews, and classroom videotaping. Collected data and analyses will be used to develop a professional development model with blended online and face-to-face experiences. A design-based implementation research approach will be used to develop and test teacher implementation networks. Longitudinal and online network data will be used to identify the conditions under which teachers are influenced by others in their networks, and how those influences affect student outcomes. Findings from this project are expected to provide new knowledge on how to sustain responsive and rigorous science teaching that is anchored in the NGSS and situated in the culture of typical middle schools and high schools.