Partnering to Progress in Elementary Science

  • Zeidler-Watters, Kimberly (PI)

    Grants and Contracts Details


    A recent survey (November, 2011) of all K-5 teachers at Jackson County elementary schools revealed that 12 different sources of curricular materials were used to teach the two targeted topics of this proposal, forcing them to teach in an unsettlingly disconnected manner. In addition to this hodgepodge of materials, an examination of the district’s science curriculum found little distinction in what was to be taught in kindergarten versus the third grade. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has focused school efforts to insure that all students can read and are numerate but with little effect in science. As with reading and math, a strong foundation in science must be laid at the earliest stages. Recent reports suggest that it becomes increasingly difficult to make up for lost ground once students reach middle school. Thus, a range of data has been used to identify the problem of a lack of student achievement in physical science. Focusing on two key physical science topics, Structure and Transformation of Matter and heat and temperature, this project proposes to build content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and assessment skills in K-5 teachers of science in all elementary schools in Jackson County through summer workshops, monthly cadre meetings, and training using a progressive curriculum. The partnership team will work with each principal to build his/her understanding of effective science instruction through training, partnered classroom observations, and analysis of student work and classroom assessments to assist with local implementation. It is the intent of this proposal to improve student achievement in physical science. The project will improve teacher content knowledge and instructional practices in physical science and will develop administrators’ ability to provide instructional feedback to impact teaching and learning in the science classroom. This project replicates approaches used in a successful Kentucky elementary science MSP. It produced a significant increase in participating teacher and student content understanding of physical science concepts. The project developed learning progressions and congruent instructional units for Structure and Transformation of Matter and heat and temperature. This project will refine these learning progressions in Structure and Transformation of Matter and use them to develop and pilot related K-5 curricular materials. Deeply held naivety and/or misconceptions require that teachers implement an instructional design that promotes conceptual change over a period of years, which will be a primary focus of this project. The result will be an empirically grounded and coherent curriculum for K-5 foundational concepts leading to improved student achievement for the standards contained in the Big Idea Structure and Transformation of Matter.
    Effective start/end date4/1/128/31/12


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