Students Choose What to Learn: Freedom to Learn in the Science Classroom by Terrill L Nickerson

Guest Post: Terrill L. Nickerson Terrill Nickerson is veteran high school science teacher with 26 years experience.  His first 15 years teaching science began in the Native American community, beginning on the Hopi Reservation in NE Arizona, and then on to teach at Santa Fe Indian School in Santa Fe, NM.  He is now teaching […]

Do MOOCS Serve Schools or Corporations?

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) seem to be following the historical trend of our infatuation with how technology can solve many of our problems in teaching and learning.  Since 2008, MOOCs have emerged not only as individual and free online courses (such as those offered at universities such as MIT, Stanford and Harvard, but have been […]

Teach Like Vladimir Vernadsky: Education as a Holistic & Dynamic System

I started going to the Soviet Union when it was the USSR in 1981, and for the next 20 years collaborated  with teachers and researchers, particularly Julie Weisberg, Phil Gang and Jennie Springer in the US, Sergey Tolstikov, Galina Manke, and Anatoly Zaklebny in Russia in a mutually designed and developed program, the Global Thinking […]

Teach Like Vladimir Vernadsky: Education as a Holistic & Dynamic System

I started going to the Soviet Union when it was the USSR in 1981, and for the next 20 years collaborated  with teachers and researchers, particularly Julie Weisberg, Phil Gang and Jennie Springer in the US, Sergey Tolstikov, Galina Manke, and Anatoly Zaklebny in Russia in a mutually designed and developed program, the Global Thinking […]

Assault on Teacher Education

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) is leading the assault on teacher education in the U.S. According to the President of this organization “Ed schools don’t give teachers the tools they need.” NCTQ’s president, Kate Walsh, has led the assault  claiming that teacher education has no real authority because it lacks specialized knowledge. She […]

From Educators to Racketeers: How Education Reform Led to a National Testing Scandal

Thirty-five Atlanta Public School educators were accused by a grand jury of racketeering, false statements and writings, false swearing, theft by taking and influencing witnesses. How could this happen in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS)?  The district is in a city that is home to The King Center, The Carter Center, Clark Atlanta University, Emory University, Georgia […]

The Cooperative-Communal Classroom–>Insights from Nature

Cooperative-communal classrooms are aligned with fundamental ideas that have been formulated from nature.  Cooperation, empathy, mutual aid, and the interdisciplinary nature of the biosphere are fundamental concepts that are implicit in cooperative-communal classrooms. Each has its origin in nature. The rationale for establishing cooperative-communal classrooms can be linked to the theory of evolution by Charles […]

The Cooperative-Communal Classroom–>Insights from Nature

Cooperative-communal classrooms are aligned with fundamental ideas that have been formulated from nature.  Cooperation, empathy, mutual aid, and the interdisciplinary nature of the biosphere are fundamental concepts that are implicit in cooperative-communal classrooms. Each has its origin in nature. The rationale for establishing cooperative-communal classrooms can be linked to the theory of evolution by Charles […]

Why Are We Surprised About Senator Rubio’s Concept of Geological History?

You would think that a United States Senator would have at least a rudimentary knowledge of geology.  Presumably the Senator, who is on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, must use knowledge of science to deal with some of the issues this committee tackles, especially the subcommittee of Science & Space, of […]

Why Are We Surprised About Senator Rubio's Concept of Geological History?

You would think that a United States Senator would have at least a rudimentary knowledge of geology.  Presumably the Senator, who is on the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, must use knowledge of science to deal with some of the issues this committee tackles, especially the subcommittee of Science & Space, of […]

Hip-Hop Culture & Science Teaching: Progressive Education in Action

I’ve written several posts on this blog about Professor Christopher Emdin, Professor of Science Education, Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. Dr. Emdin has worked for years in New York City schools with urban youth to help teachers change the way they work with their students to bring real meaning to the learning […]

Hip-Hop Culture & Science Teaching: Progressive Education in Action

I’ve written several posts on this blog about Professor Christopher Emdin, Professor of Science Education, Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City. Dr. Emdin has worked for years in New York City schools with urban youth to help teachers change the way they work with their students to bring real meaning to the learning […]

¿Is it Not Possible to Charter Teachers for a Change?

¿Is it not possible that if teachers were chartered to design curriculum and assessment methods geared to their own students they might provide an education that is closer to the lived experiences of their student?  ¿Is is possible that by enabling teachers to carry out their work as professionals the way most of them are […]

NCTQ Study of Assessment in Teacher Preparation Courses Flunks

In May, 2012, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) issued a report entitled: What Teacher Education Programs Teach About K – 12 Assessment.   Anthony Cody mentioned this study in a recent post entitled Payola Policy: NCTQ Prepares its Hit on Schools of Education. The title intrigued me, so I went over to the NCTQ website, and read […]

K-12 Education Through the Lens of the Progressive World-View & Values

Note: This is the third post on a discussion of progressive and conservative values and how they impact education in America. In this post we will explore the progressive world-view and its values, and try and understand why the progressive ideals ought to form the foundation for American K-12 education. Progressive values should set the […]

K-12 Education Through the Lens of the Progressive World-View & Values

Note: This is the third post on a discussion of progressive and conservative values and how they impact education in America. In this post we will explore the progressive world-view and its values, and try and understand why the progressive ideals ought to form the foundation for American K-12 education. Progressive values should set the […]

Guest Post by Ingvar Stål: Humanistic Science Inquiry-Oriented Teaching in Finland

Note: This is the second post by Dr. Ingvar Stål, Senior lecturer in physics, chemistry, and science at the Botby Junior High School. In his first post, which you can read here, Dr. Stål gave us an overview of the Finnish educational system, which provides a basic education to all Finnish citizens ages 7 to 16, as well as […]

The Radical Idea of Helping Students Construct Their Own Ideas

Helping students construct their own ideas is considered by some educators a subversive idea that runs counter to the present impetus of the Race to the Top and NCLB Waivers. These Federal programs, especially NCLB, have created a narrowing of the curriculum, a data-driven, test-based school culture, and the despicable use of student tests as […]

Hip Hop Generation: Humanizing Urban Science Education

The current wave of reform in science education is not in the best interests of the diverse cultures that comprise the population of the United States.  The reform is standards- and test-based, and seeks to create schooling that ignores differences in people, and instead creates an outline of what is to learned for all students […]

The Consequence of Banning High-Stakes Testing in (Science)

American education in general, and science education specifically have been radically and negatively impacted by high-stakes testing. High-stakes testing, as set forth in the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), is the idea that the pressure of such tests will increase student achievement.  But one of the major studies cited here finds that the pressure […]

With Out Science Inquiry Activities, Science Test Scores Are Better

In an article in the The Palm Beach News, science teachers discovered that when they threw out the recommended science inquiry and hands on activities, their students improved their scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). I am not writing this as a protest against these science teachers.  They know their students better than […]

With Out Science Inquiry Activities, Science Test Scores Are Better

In an article in the The Palm Beach News, science teachers discovered that when they threw out the recommended science inquiry and hands on activities, their students improved their scores on the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT). I am not writing this as a protest against these science teachers.  They know their students better than […]

Teachers of English Oppose Common Core Standards and National Tests

I read on the Schools Matter weblog site that the National Council of Teachers of English will consider a resolution to oppose the use of the Common Core State Standards, and national testing.  What about science teachers?  What about the National Science Teachers Association? In their resolution, they directly show that the claims that the […]

Teachers of English Oppose Common Core Standards and National Tests

I read on the Schools Matter weblog site that the National Council of Teachers of English will consider a resolution to oppose the use of the Common Core State Standards, and national testing.  What about science teachers?  What about the National Science Teachers Association? In their resolution, they directly show that the claims that the […]

Why in a liberal democracy are we centralizing education reform?

Why is the United States moving toward a centralized reform of education in a society that is based on democratic principles, and at a time when other countries are moving in the opposite direction? In his book, Catching Up or Leading the Way, Yong Zhao, Presidential Chair and Associate Dean for Global Education, the University […]

First Art of Science Teaching eBook Published

The first in a series of science education eBooks was published today.  The title is Why Do We Teach Science?  You can access the eBook at the link on the top menu, or follow this link. Why do we teach science? is the first of a series of science education eBooks that will be published, and made available […]

The 5 Essential Elements of Artistry in Science Teaching

As the title of this blog reminds us, teaching is an art, and in that respect, let take a look at the “art of teaching science.” Since many of us believe that teaching is an art, there is really no formula for effective teaching.  But there are some elements or as Mike Dias and I […]

The 5 Essential Elements of Artistry in Science Teaching

As the title of this blog reminds us, teaching is an art, and in that respect, let take a look at the “art of teaching science.” Since many of us believe that teaching is an art, there is really no formula for effective teaching.  But there are some elements or as Mike Dias and I […]

4 Aspects of the Artistry of Science Teaching

In our view, teaching is professional artistry.  As such, not only is your work as a science teacher an artistic one, but the way teachers are educated should also embrace professional artistry. Many years ago, I was working on a book with Joe Abruscato entitled The Whole Cosmos Catalog of Science Activities, and during this […]

Does Sending Scientists into Classrooms Help?

There is an interesting discussion right now on the NARST (National Association for Research in Science Teaching) list about the relative impact of bringing scientists into science classrooms, K-8. As one researcher said, it all depends on what goals you have in mind for a visit by a scientist. In this researcher’s case, the goal […]

3 Inquiry Lessons to Begin Your Science Course This Year

Do you have your plans worked out for the first days of the courses you will teach beginning this month or in September?  Here are three ideas you might consider, especially if you want to begin the year engaging your students in a science inquiry activity. I introduced these projects in the last post as […]

3 Inquiry Lessons to Begin Your Science Course This Year

Do you have your plans worked out for the first days of the courses you will teach beginning this month or in September?  Here are three ideas you might consider, especially if you want to begin the year engaging your students in a science inquiry activity. I introduced these projects in the last post as […]

Five Important Science Teaching Organizations

  Research in science education is a significant force in impacting the practice of science.  Science educators (researchers and teachers) around the world have created a strong community of practice that contributes to our understanding of how students learn, and the nature of science teaching, pedagogy, and curriculum. You will find on this page links […]

Science-As-Inquiry, 2nd Edition, Published

Science-as-Inquiry, 2nd Edition has been published by Good Year Books.  It is available for purchase here.  The text that follows the image of the book is part of the Introduction of the book. Science As Inquiry, 2nd Edition weaves together ideas about science teaching and inquiry that were developed over many years of work with practicing […]

A Bit of Technology History: The Mac

Snagfilms is a great resource for video, documentaries, and films. Here is one that long-time mac users might enjoy. I started using a Mac in 1985, and last month a new i-Mac with a very big screen arrived on my desk. The difference in screen size between my first Mac and the new one that […]

A Bit of Technology History: The Mac

Snagfilms is a great resource for video, documentaries, and films. Here is one that long-time mac users might enjoy. I started using a Mac in 1985, and last month a new i-Mac with a very big screen arrived on my desk. The difference in screen size between my first Mac and the new one that […]

Teaching Climate Change

Is climate change real? Is the greenhouse effect based on fundamental science? To what extent are “debates” on TV news outlets using split screen technology peer review or rhetoric? Do large companies abuse the concept of peer review by using rhetoric to cast doubt on scientific findings? These are questions that should underscore student’s pursuit […]

Science As Inquiry Website

This week, the 2nd Edition of Science As Inquiry will be published by Good Year Books. Science as Inquiry is based on the idea that learning is deepened if viewed as a communal experience, and that students are involved in making decisions about not only how they learn, but what they learn. Center stage in […]

Science as Inquiry Update

The revision to Science As Inquiry has been completed and it should be published and available at the end of June 2011. To get a feel for what is in the book, you are invited to visit the Science as Inquiry Website. Here is a screen shot of part of the first page of the […]

Science as Inquiry

For the past two months I have been involved in a revision of Science As Inquiry, a book I published with Goodyear Publishing in 2000. The book revision will be finished at the end of April, and the new edition will be published in the Fall of 2011. I’ve developed a website for the 2nd […]

The Art of Science Learning

I wanted to call your attention to a new initiative, The Art of Science Learning, through a grant from the National Science Foundation to the Steifer Associates. The grant will explore the impact the arts can have on science (STEM) literacy and creativity in the workforce through a social network for teachers, 3 conferences in […]

Why do we teach science?: Voices from the classroom

My students are not passive learners of science, they ARE scientists. They embrace the idea that they are empowered to own their learning. In addition to creating a love of learning within my students, I am intentional about equipping students with wonder, teamwork strategies, and problem-solving skills for jobs that may not exist yet. Kareen […]

Why Do We Teach Science? The Skills Argument

In the last two posts, the economic and democratic arguments have been discussed, respectively.  We now turn to a third argument, the “skills argument.” According to R. Stephen Turner, the “skills argument” is second to the economic argument as the reason we teach science. According to Turner, the skills argument provides the rationale that the study […]

Why do we teach science?–the economic argument

In yesterday’s blog post, I raised the question: Why do we teach science anyway?  Do we teach science to help students become curious and to wonder about the world around them?  Do we teach science because various committees and professional societies think that studying science has something special to teach students about the world, and […]

Teaching in America: It Should Not Be About Winning

There was an opinion piece in the New York Times on Sunday by Thomas Friedman entitled Teaching for America. On the front page on the Times website, the article title was Teaching to Win. Friedman’s article is supportive of current reform efforts, and the charge that the nations schools have put us in a hole […]

The Footprints Puzzle as a Pedagogical Tool

In recent posts, I’ve discussed the history of the Footprints Puzzle which was prompted by an article (Tracking the Footprints Puzzle) in the Journal Science Education by Ault and Dodick, and explored the relationship between approaching science as a process approach, or as a conceptual or content viewpoint. In this post I am finishing my […]

The Dinosaur Footprints Puzzle: Is it pedagogy or paleontology?

In the last post I reviewed the article “Tracking the Footprints Puzzle: The Problematic persistence of science-as-process in teaching the nature and culture of science by Charles Ault and Jeff Dodick which was published in the recent issue of the journal Science Education. I also reflected on my own experience in teaching and writing with […]

The Superman Hero is actually your 7th Grade “Science” Teacher!

Who travels faster than a speeding bullet?  Who jumps buildings in a single bound?  No, its not superman, its probably your 7th grade science teacher!  I’ve written about a movie which was just released titled Waiting for Superman.  Here is the official movie trailer.  After watching the trailer, you may or may not agree with […]

The Superman Hero is actually your 7th Grade "Science" Teacher!

Who travels faster than a speeding bullet?  Who jumps buildings in a single bound?  No, its not superman, its probably your 7th grade science teacher!  I’ve written about a movie which was just released titled Waiting for Superman.  Here is the official movie trailer.  After watching the trailer, you may or may not agree with […]

What are the implications of a new generation of science standards?

In the early 1970s, while at Georgia State University, a team of science educators (professors, science education graduate students, and classroom teachers) spent two years developing a comprehensive set of objectives and test items for elementary science, grades K-6 for the Florida Department of Education, called the Florida Elementary Science Assessment Project. In the year leading […]

If Science Courses Were Optional, Would Students Enroll?

Yesterday I wrote about the drive to “standardize” curriculum in the U.S. through the implementation of Common Core Standards.  Already, we have the Common Core Standards in Mathematics and Reading, and National Research Council has hired Achieve (the same organization that wrote the Math and Reading standards) to write the new generation of science standards. […]

Curiosity in Teaching Science

The most recent issue of The Science Teacher was entitled Science and Creativity, and according to the editor of the journal, “to develop 21st-century skills, we must create classrooms that foster creativity and encourage divergent thinking—through student inquiry, complex problem solving, and open-ended research.” Creativity in science teaching has been a theme—or a goal if […]

Linking Research and Practice in Science Teaching

For many years I was fortunate to conduct seminars for the Bureau of Research in Education (BER), an organization that provides staff development and training resources for educators in North America.  One of the principles that provided the framework for the seminars that I did, and others that the BER offers is the link between […]

Dear Mr. President: Take the Risk, and Try and Humanize Teaching and Learning

Tomorrow, President Obama will send his education blue print to Congress, which, according to the New York Times article, “strikes a careful balance, retaining some key features of the Bush-era law, including its requirement for annual reading and math tests, while proposing far-reaching changes.” The blue print is really no different than what was put […]

Science Teaching in Film and Video

Last week I received emails from colleagues that believe that film and video make a strong contribution to the public understanding of science.  The three emails reflect as many ways that film and video are used in science education. The first email was from Dr. Bill Hammack, the Engineerguy at the University of Illinois.  I […]

Engineering as a Way to Humanize Science Teaching

In earlier posts I have talked about the humanistic science paradigm of learning, and have indicated that this paradigm has the potential of increasing the interest that students have in science, as well as helping students comprehend and understand science.  In one post I made this point: What has emerged in science education is a […]

Global Weirding: Opportunity to Teach Climate Change

Thomas Friedman, writing in the New York Times entitled today’s post Global Weirding is Here.  Friedman prefers to use the term “global weirding” instead of global warming because the result of global warming is very “weird” weather.  He puts it this way: The weather gets weird. The hots are expected to get hotter, the wets […]

Science Teaching at Botby Högstadieskolas: An Experiment in Teaching Science as an Optional Course

Would it be viable to offer science as an optional subject? What would happen to enrollment in science if it were an optional course? Would students sign up for such a course? How could the course be structured to interest students in wanting to take the course? In this post, I am going to feature […]

New Generation of Science Standards: Part of the Common Standards Movement?

The National Research Council has received funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York to develop a framework for a new generation of science standards (K-12) based on the idea of disciplinary and cross-disciplinary core ideas. A committee of experts has already met (January 28-29) to begin the process of developing the conceptual framework. The […]

Thinking Big: Stephen Hawking's Universe and Science Teaching

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled Some Ways to Interest Students in Science, and one method I suggested was to help students “think big.”   Helping our students ask “big” questions, as Carl Sagan did, was the principle described here: Where did our universe come from?  How big is the Universe? and so […]

Thinking Big: Stephen Hawking’s Universe and Science Teaching

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post entitled Some Ways to Interest Students in Science, and one method I suggested was to help students “think big.”   Helping our students ask “big” questions, as Carl Sagan did, was the principle described here: Where did our universe come from?  How big is the Universe? and so […]

The Coffee House Syndrome: Humanizing the Classroom

No, this is not about Starbucks, Caribou, or McCafe coffee houses. But it is about coffee houses, and how coffee might have contributed to the field of science and science education, and indeed the Age of Enlightenment. In his book The Invention of Air, Steven Johnson introduces us to The London Coffee House, and a […]

Three Ways to Interest Students in Science

Perhaps the fundamental goal of science education should be finding ways to interest students in science.  Stephen Hornstra Landgraaf, (The Netherlands) made this statement as part of his comment in my previous post.  In this era of standards-based education we leave most students outside of science, and do little to bring them in to see […]

Science Education Conference, Istanbul, Turkey: September 2009

One of the posts that I made last October was the announcement of a science education research conference that will be held in Istanbul, Turkey, August 31 – September 4, 2009.  I head from many colleagues, especially science educators in Africa and the Middle East who indicated strong interest in attending the conference.  All of […]

Science Teaching 3.0: A New Word Sign for Innovative Teaching

In the last post, I introduced the notion that we can look at science teaching, globalization, the Earth, and the World Wide Web using a three-point scale, e.g. 1.0, 2.0, 3.0. In particular, I introduced the use of the word-sign Science Teaching 3.0 as a way of calling attention to the humanistic science paradigm (click […]

Science Teaching 3.0

In his book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman used the terms Globalization 1.0, Globalization 2.0, and Globalization 3.0 as a way to compare and contrast three great eras of globalization. In the fabric of the World Wide Web, people have been using the term Web 2.0 to describe the most recent way in which […]

Dear Mr. President: The Need for Meaningful Reform in Science Teaching

We know you have a lot on your plate—a deep recession, two wars in the Middle East, health care reform, extreme partisanship, the fast spreading swine flu. Yet the one area that that is essential to our well being as a nation–education–has yet to become center stage. I know it is a high priority of […]

Transforming science teaching through social activism: Is it a viable goal?

There was a very interesting new comment made on an earlier post entitited Should science teaching be political: A Humanistic Question.  In that post I explored the ideas of researcher Wildson dos Santos, who had published an article: Scientific literacy: A Freirean perspective as a radical view of humanistic science education. In the comment made, […]

Holistic Teaching: Integrating ideas of Vernadsky & Lovelock into science teaching

The opening sentence in John Miller’s book, The Holistic Curriculum is that holistic education attempts to bring education into alignment with the fundamental realities of nature. Nature at its core is holistic,interrelated and dynamic. As such we have much to learn about curriculum from environmental education, and the science-technology-society (STS) movement (each developed In previous […]

Holistic Teaching: Integrating ideas of Vernadsky & Lovelock into science teaching

The opening sentence in John Miller’s book, The Holistic Curriculum is that holistic education attempts to bring education into alignment with the fundamental realities of nature. Nature at its core is holistic,interrelated and dynamic. As such we have much to learn about curriculum from environmental education, and the science-technology-society (STS) movement (each developed In previous […]

Using informal learning to help students cross borders in science class

Non-school learning was a term that John Dewey used for “informal experiences” that he felt helped learners acquire attitudes, values, and knowledge from daily experiences. Many students come to science class from a cultural world-view that makes learning science much like the crossing of a cultural border. As I discussed in the last post, science […]

The world might be flat, but in science class, there are borders to cross

Thomas Friedman’s idea of a “flat world,” outlined in his book The World is Flat suggested that the rapid diffusion of computer and telecommunications technology into the lives of individuals in many nations around the world ushered us into a radically different era.  This led to new found possibilities for individuals and groups to collaborate, […]

Should science teaching be political? A Humanistic Question

I could have titled this “Is science teaching political?: A Humanistic Question.” In an article (Scientific literacy: A Freirean perspective as a radical view of humanistic science education) recently published in Science Education, Wildson L.P. dos Santos, of the Instituto de Quimica, Universidade de Brasilia, describes a rationale for advancing a new idea in humanistic […]

Asteroid 2009 DD45 Comes Close to Earth: A Teaching Opportunity

Australian astronomers noticed a surprise blip on an image taken from Siding Spring Observatory, and announced that an asteroid, designated 2009 DD45 would pass about 40,000 miles from Earth on March 2.   It did, and it was reported on most news services.  And it provides an interesting teaching opportunity to examine asteroids, and also […]

Florida Legislators: "Teach Critical Thinking in Science, but Just the Facts, Man in History"

Can you insist on critical thinking in one content area, and then demand that another be taught only as a factual pursuit? Well, that’s what some legislators in the Florida Senate believe. A bill was introduced on February 27, 2009 into the Florida Senate relating to educational instruction. It is a comprehensive bill that will […]

Florida Legislators: “Teach Critical Thinking in Science, but Just the Facts, Man in History”

Can you insist on critical thinking in one content area, and then demand that another be taught only as a factual pursuit? Well, that’s what some legislators in the Florida Senate believe. A bill was introduced on February 27, 2009 into the Florida Senate relating to educational instruction. It is a comprehensive bill that will […]

A Lesson on Darwin, Fossils and Other Stuff

I was invited by one of our grandsons’ teachers to visit her 7th grade life science class at Greenbrier Middle School, Evans, Georgia (about 15 miles west of Augusta). I had not taught a lesson for a group of 7th graders in a long time, so this was going to be a challenge. When I […]