Notebooks in the Classroom: Darwin’s Secret Notebooks

Science teachers have been having their students keep science notebooks and journals as a way to help students keep a record of their work, and as a place to reflect on their ideas.  For many teachers, the journal is one way to help students using writing as a vehicle to learn.  Professor Carolyn Keys has […]

Notebooks in the Classroom: Darwin's Secret Notebooks

Science teachers have been having their students keep science notebooks and journals as a way to help students keep a record of their work, and as a place to reflect on their ideas.  For many teachers, the journal is one way to help students using writing as a vehicle to learn.  Professor Carolyn Keys has […]

Role Playing Darwin in the Classroom

A friend of mine, on Darwin’s birthday (February 12), would dress up in Victorian attire as a young Charles Darwin, enter his high school biology classroom, and announce that he was the “father of evolution.”   Then, he pulled out his iphone, and i-clicked through a series of pictures of the trip Darwin had taken […]

Track II Diplomacy and Science Teaching

In yesterday’s post, I used the phrase “track II diplomacy” when I was reporting an interview with Dr. Peter Agre, the new president of the AAAS. It turns out that Dr. Agre agrees with a group of American scientists who wish to talk with North Korean scientists, in a sort of “informal diplomacy,” discussion, and […]

Rethinking Schools: Calling for a Paradigm Shift, Nearly 20 Years and Counting

Happy New Year! Yesterday I introduced readers of this Weblog to Bob Peterson, a teacher from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, who organized a team of educators to develop the website: Social Studies Resources.  Bob Peterson is a veteran teacher, who with a group of Milwaukee-area teachers envisioned education in their own classroom being improved, and through their […]

Social Studies Resources: An Important Website for Science Educators

The purpose of this post is to introduced to you to an important new website that I think is very relevant to science educators.  It is the Social Studies Resources Website. I became aware of the Social Studies Resources website today when I received a newsletter from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).  The SPLC […]

Why we need to re-think NCLB and support a Paradigm Shift

In a recent edweek.org newsletter there was a No Child Left Behind Alert that I found interesting, and provided the starting point for this post.  The forum discussion (a question is posed, and you can submit a response joining you to the discussion) for the day was:  What’s the most important thing President-to-be-Obama could do […]

A New Age for Science and Science Education?

In earlier posts on this Weblog, I introduced readers to ScienceDebate2008, a citizen effort to engage the US presidential candidates in a real debate on science, technology and society.  The debates never happened, but each candidate (science advisors, I suppose) answered the 14 questions that ScienceDebate2008 participants generated.  If you haven’t read the questions and […]

Freedom to Change & Transform the Practice of Science Teaching

Carl Rogers wrote a book many years ago entitled Freedom to Learn.  One of the most significant chapters in his book was “My way of facilitating a class.”  I read this chapter many times, and it had a profound influence on the way that I facilitated my classes at Georgia State University.  As a result […]

Freedom to Change & Transform the Practice of Science Teaching

Carl Rogers wrote a book many years ago entitled Freedom to Learn.  One of the most significant chapters in his book was “My way of facilitating a class.”  I read this chapter many times, and it had a profound influence on the way that I facilitated my classes at Georgia State University.  As a result […]

Adventures in Geology–Is it pedagogy or petrology? Transforming Practice

In the last two posts, I’ve discussed the recent research that focuses on girls and science, and how teachers can make transformations in their practice to incorporate recent research.  Making a transformation in ones teaching is challenging and indeed a creative adventure. In the 1970s I was teaching an undergraduate geology course at Georgia State […]

Transforming Science Teaching Practice

In last post, which explored recent research on girls and science, I ended the entry with the notion that helping teachers transform their practice to incorporate new findings and theories about students, feminist perspectives and learning theory will determine the extent to which progress is made in furthering the participation of girls in science and […]

Girls and Science: Findings from Research

In a study published in the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (November, 2008), Brotman and Moore explore current research (in the past 12 years) in the field of gender and science education.  In their study, Girls and Science: A Review of Four Themes in the Science Education Literature, the authors created a landscape of […]

Teaching Science Nonverbally: The Power of Visual Images and Sounds

I know that this topic seems a bit out of place, but I wanted to follow up comments made by David Calladine, one of the readers of this weblog.  David teaches science in the UK, and specializes in teaching environmental science.  One of his entries was in response to a post entitled Teaching About Global […]

Toward a More Open Science Curriculum

There was a very interesting article in the New York Times entitled High Schools to Cultivate Interest.  The article focused in on a school district that is experimenting with “redefining traditional notions of a college-preparatory education and allowing students to pursue specialized interests that once were relegated to after-school clubs and weekend hobbies.”  As one […]

Project-Based Science Instruction

The focus of the November issue of The Science Teacher is Project-Based Science (PBS), and it includes several articles written by science teachers and researchers.  In addition to articles on the theory underlying PBS, there are three articles that focus on specific classroom examples of projects: How Do Geckos Stick?; The Herpetology Project; and Investigating […]

Should Student (Science) Test Scores be used to evaluate teachers?

I ask this as a question, rather than making it a declarative statement.  But I was prompted to write about this topic based on a lead article in yesterday’s USA Today entitled Teachers take test scores to the bank as bonuses. The author described some examples of school districts offering bonuses to teachers if their students’ […]

Teaching for Social Justice the Natural Way

The title of this post is really a play on words in the sense that good teaching is characterized by an emphasis on student involvement, inquiry, and innovation. It happens naturally if we plan lessons that put the student in the center of learning, rather than the curriculum. I was motivated to write this post […]

Social Justice in Science Teaching

I received an email from Nate Carnes, President of the Southeast Association for Science Teacher Education (SASTE) announcing the SASTE’s annual conference entitled: Social Justice and High Quality Science Education for All which will take place at the University of South Carolina, Columbia on October 10 & 11.  Follow this link for details for the conference. […]

Teaching Science as if your Classroom was a Community

The community, as a concept, is where the action is not only when dealing with environmental, social and political issues, but is one of the most important ideas for us to incorporate into our approach to teaching.  A teacher, in a sense, is a community organizer who works with a group of students to teach […]

Teaching About Hurricane Prediction: With an Eye on Hanna

Teaching and learning about Hurricanes has been a interest of mine for many years, beginning as an Earth science teacher in Lexington, Massachusetts, and then extending to the writing of textbooks for elementary and middle school students.  In 2005, right after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast and New Orleans, I created a website entitled […]

Time to Teach Evolution?

I’ve written several posts over the past several years about the teaching of and opposition to teaching evolution.  Right now, there is evidence that the resistance to teach evolution is fading, although, if history is helpful, this lack of resistance will not last very long. In the article cited below there is a very interesting […]

Mousetraps and Science Teaching: A Follow-up to Only a Theory

In Kenneth Miller’s book, Only a Theory, he talks about the fundamental concept underlying “intelligent design” and goes on to show how the fundamental concept is wrong, and not supported in biological research.  The fundamental idea is that there are some aspects of nature that that are just too complex to have “evolved” to their […]

Only a Theory

In his new book Only a Theory, Kenneth Miller, Professor of Biology at Brown University, and author of a number of books, including one on high school biology, explores the issues surrounding the teaching of evolution in American schools.  He begins his book in the following way: “In a courtroom even a whisper can catch […]

Promotion to the Next Grade: The Luck of Getting One Extra Question Correct

Can you believe that statement?  A researcher at the University of Arkansas, who feels that teachers and administrators (mere public employees) who make a decision to pass a student on to the next grade who didn’t “pass the end of year test” says: “If public employees cannot do what the public has asked them to […]

Science (Teaching) is a Creative Process

There was an interesting “My Turn” essay in this week’s Newsweek entitled Lessons in Life (Science) by Sally G. Hoskins, who teaches undergraduate biology.  In the article, she informs us that one of major goals in the biology course she teaches is that her students leave the course with the idea that just like art […]

CRCT: A Failed System in Georgia: It Needs to Change.

In yesterday’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution an article reported that the Georgia State Department of Education knew students would fail the social studies test in huge numbers, but refused to share this information with superintendents, teachers or parents in the state. 69% of students in grades 6 and 7 failed or as the state puts it: “Does […]

Art of Teaching Science 2.0

For the past year I have been working with Mike Dias writing the second edition of The Art of Teaching Science. For the most part, the process has been a Web 2.0 experience. We’ve used a variety of web tools to create the second edition of the book. We started by using Google Docs which […]

Children’s Video on Bay Area Science

In a recent study by the Lawrence Hall of Science Center for Research, Evaluation and Assessment, in collaboration with WestEd, more than 900 Bay Area school teachers and almost 60% of the Bay Area school districts that serve elementary school students were surveyed to shed light on the state of science education. The results were […]

Children's Video on Bay Area Science

In a recent study by the Lawrence Hall of Science Center for Research, Evaluation and Assessment, in collaboration with WestEd, more than 900 Bay Area school teachers and almost 60% of the Bay Area school districts that serve elementary school students were surveyed to shed light on the state of science education. The results were […]

First Experiences Using the Internet in Science Teaching

I had two real first experiences using the Internet. Here’s the first: I had purchased my first personal computer in 1980. It was an Apple II, which was invented by Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple Computer. In his book, iWoz, Wozniak describes his unbelievable creativity in firstly inventing the Apple I, and followed soon […]

Authenticity as a Pathway to Humanistic Science Teaching

One of the serious issues related to contemporary science teaching is the dominance of traditional science teaching as defined by the rhetoric of standards-based science curriculum. Most students experience a science curriculum that is fundamentally didactic, rarely involving the students in authentic learning activities. The traditional model is overly mechanistic, individualistic, and focused on the […]

Citizen Scientists: Humanizing Science Teaching

There was an article in USA Today’s newspaper about citizen scientists that prompted this post. The article described Project BudBurst, a national field study that tracks the dates that 60 plant species leaf and flower this spring and summer. The purpose of the project is to involve citizens in collecting important climate change data on […]

Humanistic Science Education

In the last post, I mentioned that organizations such as the NSTA support the notion of career education, which might be another way of saying that one of the purposes of studying science is the possibility of future work (in science and related fields). At first glance, this is not a bad idea. How can […]

Why Aren’t Students Interested in a Career in Science?

In a recent NSTA Reports (March 2008, Vol. 19 No.7), a publication of the National Science Teachers Association. the lead article entitled “Steer Your Students to a Science Career” pointed out that science teachers try to inspire their students to careers in science, yet in a very recent major study, the ROSE study, carried out […]

Why Aren't Students Interested in a Career in Science?

In a recent NSTA Reports (March 2008, Vol. 19 No.7), a publication of the National Science Teachers Association. the lead article entitled “Steer Your Students to a Science Career” pointed out that science teachers try to inspire their students to careers in science, yet in a very recent major study, the ROSE study, carried out […]

Breaking from Tradition: Or Rediscovering Ancient Traditions

Odd title, don’t you think. According to a growing number of science educators, the science curriculum, burdened by the overwhelming influence of the Standard’s movement, and high stakes testing, is in need of reform. I know this sounds like a broken record in that since Russia launched Sputnik in 1957, the American government has supported […]

Gliese 581c Inhabitants Visit Earth: Mission to the Blue Planet

As this week’s Newsweek article said, if you are Looking for Life? Try Gliese 581c. It turns out that astronomer at the European Southern Observatory in Chile indirectly inferred the existence of an earth-like planet orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581. Slight movements (perturbations) of the star led to the discovery of Gliese 581c […]

Mission to the Blue Planet

Last week, astronomers in Europe announced the discovery of an Earth-like planet outside of our Solar System. It was discovered this month, and it orbits the star Gliese 581, which is a red dwarf star located a little more than 20 light years from Earth. As a star system, Gliese became interesting to the astronomers […]

Innovative Middle School Science Teaching

Last week, The New York Times had a feature article on middle school teaching entitled, “For Teachers, Middle School Is Test of Wills.” The article featured a courageous and outstanding teacher, Corinne Kaufman, who teaches mathematics to middle school students at Seth Low, a large middle school in Bensonhurst, NY. The article also discussed the […]

Why Cooperative Learning Should Be Natural in Science Teaching

One of the major pedagogical strategies used in schools is the didactic approach in which the teacher delivers the content for the students to learn. Yet, didactic strategies have raised more questions than the benefits of this direct teaching model. Instead, over the past 20 years this old model of teaching has been replaced by […]

Teaching The Truth About Global Warming

Teaching Truth. That’s the problem when we discuss and debate the scientific topic of global warming. As Tim Flannery points out, science is about hypotheses (and I would add theories), not truth. One of the long term problems in science teaching is helping students understand the nature of scientific research, and how science develops theories […]

Reform in Science Teaching, What Does Research Tell Us? Look to a New Cadre'

This issue (March, 2007) of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching had two articles that investigated the effects of science education reform in the United States. The first of the two studies, Can professional development make the vision of the standards a reality? The impact of the national science foundation’s local systemic change through […]

Reform in Science Teaching, What Does Research Tell Us? Look to a New Cadre’

This issue (March, 2007) of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching had two articles that investigated the effects of science education reform in the United States. The first of the two studies, Can professional development make the vision of the standards a reality? The impact of the national science foundation’s local systemic change through […]

Science Teaching Research Around the World: Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education

I recently became acquainted with a relatively “young” journal of research devoted to helping us understand science teaching: The Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education (EJSMT). EJSMTE has its headquarters in Turkey. It’s editor, Hüseyin BAG, is professor at Pamukkale Universitesi, TURKEY, and the Associate Editor, Mehmet Fatih TASAR, is professor at Gazi […]

Global Warming: Lessons from the Earth for us

With the release of its report “Climate Change 2007” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the issue of global warming has surfaced in the press, and in the government, yet again. The report basically says that scientists agree that the Earth’s temperature increase is being caused by greenhouse gas emissions, and that there is […]

New Report Urges Creativity to be a Top Skill for Schools

The National Center on Education and the Economy issued a report this week entitled Tough Choices or Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. It calls for the biggest changes in the American educational system in over a century. You can read in PDF form the Executive […]

Paradigms Compared

Education in America has finally reached the 21st Century, chronologically at least, but not pedagogically. Education is still remarkably similar to what education was like in late 19th Century! We still put kids in classrooms of about 30, arrange then into rows and columns, and tell them to study for the test. The paradigm that […]

Wanted!: A Paradigm Shift

In the last post, I wrote that education in American schools needs to change to reflect the new ways of thinking that students will need in a global society. This call for change is not new. Futurists, and other thinkers have been describing the kinds of skills people would need in a “knowledge society.” I […]

Education for Global Thinking

The way we teach kids has not changed very much over the years. Yet all around our schools, society has changed in astounding ways. We are able to put humans into space, and yet, students in America’s urban schools couldn’t explain how a vehicle put into space is able to orbit the earth. The curriculum […]

Global Thinking

In the last post I wrote about Citizen Diplomacy as enacted by hundreds of North American and Soviet psychologists and educators beginning in the 1980s at the height of the Cold War. One of the outcomes (there were many), was the co-creation of the Global Thinking Project (originally called the Soviet-American Global Thinking Project). The […]

If It Isn’t Working, Fix It!: The Case of Science in Urban Schools

Another article in the New York Times by Ellen V. Futter, “Failing Science” pointed to the utter disastrous situation of science teaching in America’s urban school districts. (You may not be able to “read” this article unless you have an account with the NYTimes). The Futter article is a response to the announced results of […]

If It Isn't Working, Fix It!: The Case of Science in Urban Schools

Another article in the New York Times by Ellen V. Futter, “Failing Science” pointed to the utter disastrous situation of science teaching in America’s urban school districts. (You may not be able to “read” this article unless you have an account with the NYTimes). The Futter article is a response to the announced results of […]

Science Literacy in Atlanta: Time for Action

This is a follow-up of a post I made a few days ago. Letter to the Editor: Maureen Downey recently quoted Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall, who said “There is no way for students to do well on NAEP science if they are not reading and doing math. ” (Editorial, Nov. 20, 2006) I believe Dr. […]

Innovation in Education: Time for Change

Ok, now that there is going to be a political change in Washington, and in many state governments as well, will this be reflected in needed changes in education, especially in science, mathematics and technology education? There is an enormous need at the Federal level that supports educational innovation, and that this philosophy be reflected […]

The Power of Teachers' Beliefs

There was an interesting article in today’s New York Times, The Unfailing Belief in the Power of Teaching by David M. Herszenhorn. It’s a story about Andres Alonso, whose family, when he was 12, fled Cuba and settled in New Jersey. Alonso went onto Columbia University and Harvard (Law School), and then took a job […]

The Power of Teachers’ Beliefs

There was an interesting article in today’s New York Times, The Unfailing Belief in the Power of Teaching by David M. Herszenhorn. It’s a story about Andres Alonso, whose family, when he was 12, fled Cuba and settled in New Jersey. Alonso went onto Columbia University and Harvard (Law School), and then took a job […]

Teaching Evolution: A Case Study of a Courageous Science Teacher

There was an article (Evolution’s Lonely Battle in a Georgia Classroom) in the New York Times online edition on June 29 about a middle school teacher by the name of Pat New. She stood alone in her small north Georgia school district of Lumpkin County, which is located in the mountains, and decided not to […]

Small is Beautiful: A View from the Gates Foundation

In a recent issue of BusinessWeek magazine, an article appeared that is entitled Bill Gates Get Schooled. The article focuses on the struggle that Gates and educators working with funds from Gates Foundation experience as they try and reform high schools. The foundation is trying to find out what makes high schools work so that […]

Cultures of Learning

In the last post, I made reference to the concept of “culture of learning,” in my discussion of the drop-out problem in America’s high schools. (note: America is not the only nation that has a poor track record of graduating students from secondary schools—its exists in many parts of the world.) Culture of learning has […]

Science Literacy in Letters to the Editor

There has recently been a flurry of letters to editor in the Marietta Daily Journal (Georgia) that were promted by a editorial two weeks ago by a Rev. Price concerning intelligent design. There has also been another subset of letters prompted by a Jeffrey Selman who has for years challenged Cobb County officials (schools and […]

The Law of Evolution

I just purchased a new book by James Watson, Nobel Prize Laureate and co-discoverer of the structure of DNA. Its title is Darwin, The Indelible Stamp: The Evolution of an Idea. Watson includes in this one volume, four of the most important books by Charles Darwin: The Voyage of the Beagle, On the Origin of […]

Teaching Globally: Teaching in Another Culture

Charles Hutchison’s new book, Teaching in America leads me to think about the experiences we’ve had in exchange programs for students and teachers. In the 1990s, many of us were involved with a number of countries, including the USSR (Russia and the other Independent States that emerged from the Soviet State), Spain, Czech Republic, Australia […]

Putting Science Back into the Curriculum

The State of Alaska put a “bit of science” back into its state science curriculum standards. And what was that “bit”? Evolution! It turns out that the Anchorage School District made the proposal to change the life science standard to read: “…an understanding of how science explains changes in life forms over time, including genetics, […]

Learning to Learn

I’ve been recently reading about early American history, especially the revolutionary period, and have especially appreciated authors including Joseph J. Ellis (The Founding Brothers, American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson, and His Excellency George Washington), and David McCullough (John Adams and 1776). One of the things that struck me was how dependent the founding […]

Inquiry: Learning to Open the Mind

One of my favorite columns appears in Newsweek Magazine entitled The Last Word by Anna Quindlen. In a recent piece (May 30, 2005), “Life of the Closed Mind,” Qundlen is concerned that in recent years (after 9/11), America has become a country that sets its young people the terrible example of closed minds. What is […]

Using the Web to Transform Learning Possibilities

Fifteen years ago, a team of educators from Georgia took 6 Macintosh SE 20 computers, modems, and printers to the then Soviet Union, and then proceeded to install one computer, modem and printer in five different schools we were collaborating with (2 in Moscow and 3 in St. Petersburg). We connected each computer to a […]

The Case of iBooks in Cobb County Schools

This is the county in Georgia where I reside. I followed the story in the local newspaper on the Cobb County School District’s decision to provide Apple i-Books for all teachers, and students in grades 6 -12, beginning with an experiemental phase beginning next school year in four of the district’s high schools. It created […]

Free Minds

“Dogmatism and sectarianism must go, for Almighty God had made the mind free,” said Thomas Jefferson more than 200 years ago (See Edwin S. Gaustad’s book on Thomas Jefferson). For decades, dogmatists have tried to convince us that its okey to teach evolution, as long as it is questioned, and as long as the “theory” […]