Eight Reasons to Study the New Framework for Science Education

Have you seen the draft version of the new Conceptual Framework for K – 12 Science Education (Framework)?  The final, and published version will be announced on Tuesday, July 19 in Washington D.C. by the National Academy of Sciences.  The Framework was designed by a committee of scientists, and teams of scientists and educators during the past two years.  It will be an important document for at least the next 15 – 20 years, as the National Science Education Standards were for the past 15 years. … Read more

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 into practice by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, and is steeped in a corporate model of teaching and learning that uses test scores to drive the day-to-day work of teachers in schools.  … Read more

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 16 member committee is comprised of 13 university science and science education professors, a NASA scientist, an official from a state department of education, and the director of a science teaching professional development collaborative.… Read more

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 yours, and I know when you think the time is right, you will bring it forward for open discussion. I believe that teaching is an art, and that teachers in our culture should work with their students creatively in classrooms characterized as humanistic, experiential, and constructivist.… Read more

Are Reformers Willing to Involve Students in “Cultivating a New Culture of Accountability?”

With the election of a new administration in Washington, one of the major areas of “change” will be education. More than $100 billion will be invested in education as part of the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In a speech earlier this week, President Obama has called for sweeping changes in American education calling for the removal of limits on charter schools (laboratories of innovation), improving early childhood education, and linking teacher pay to (student) performance.… Read more

The Art of Junk Science

I read an article in the local paper that a U.S. Senator had evoked the phrase “junk science” when explaining why Rachel Carson’s work should not be considered for an award in the U.S. Senate. He was speaking specifically about her work entitled Silent Spring, which used scientific findings to raise questions about the widespread use of pesticides. This U.S. Senator referred to the science in Carson’s work as “junk science.” And this senator has a background in medicine.… Read more

Beyond The Basics: Solutions for Science Teaching

In the last post I noted that there is a tendency to fall back and retreat when students’ test scores are not up to par according to state, national or international trends. Indeed, over the past 20 years, US students have not compared very well to counterparts in other countries. When this happens, there appears to be a call to return to the basics in mathematics and science, to make sure that they will do well in the next test.… Read more

Ethanol from Brazil: A Lesson in Science and Social Responsibility

Perhaps one of the important trends over the past 20 years in science teaching has been the “science and social responsibility movement” which resulted in programs that have impacted K-12 schools, not only in the US, but in many countries around the world. The Web made it possible for students in different countries to collaborate on projects, many of them environmental science oriented to solve problems that were local in nature, but were shared globally.

A powerful case study for teachers and students is the production of ethanol from sugar cane and bio-materials, and the impact on the environment where the plants are grown, the local and global economy, and how using ethanol reduces the dependence on fossil fuels.… Read more

State-Wide Testing: A Recent Trend?

I wrote in the last two posts I openned a discussion about the phenomenon of state-wide testing that determines whether students are retained or passed (out) on to the next grade. The results, as I pointed out in Georgia, are not exactly “world-class” although Governor and Superintendent of Schools have that as one of their “political” sound-bites. State wide-testing and standards…where did they come from? Is a recent idea? Or one dredged from the past?

I have personal knowledge from colleagues that worked at Florida State University in the 1970’s that the recent phenomenon of state-wide assessment and the development of “standards” was originally (in Flordia), an assessment program measuring only a sample of students, but this was quickly changed to include all students in selected grade levels.… Read more