Tag Archives: inservice

WELS2 summer 2018 workshop

In June, the WELS2 project team held our second 1-week workshop for more than 45 Nebraska middle- and high school science teachers from over a dozen school districts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Innovation Campus.  Building on the previous summer workshop, teachers learned groundwater quality sampling techniques, used a computer-based, data-driven water balance model to explore regional water challenges, toured the Nebraska Water Sciences Laboratory, and developed curricular resources to use these tools in their own classrooms.  Teachers also had the opportunity to participate in the workshop as part of a UNL graduate course – SCIL 800 Experiential Learning in Food, Energy, & Water II.  A special thanks goes out to colleagues Trenton Franz, Dan Snow, and Dana Divine for working with teachers to utilize extraordinary UNL resources and tools, as well as to Tina Vo and Kate Gibson for helping plan and coordinate the workshop.  We greatly appreciate funding from the USDA-NIFA PD-STEP program and Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grant program through the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, both of which have made this program possible. 

WELS2 summer 2017 workshop

In June, the WELS2 project team held a 1-week workshop for more than 30 Nebraska middle- and high school science teachers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  The workshop focused on supporting teachers to learn to use a computer-based groundwater modeling tool, the Hydrogeology Challenge, and to develop instructional materials and supports that would enable them to use this tool within their existing science curriculum.

As part of the workshop, teachers explored the Next Generation Science Standards, conducted water-related investigations, learned about the scientific practice of modeling, and worked on curricular resources to support their own teaching.  Teachers also had the opportunity to participate in the workshop as part of a UNL graduate course – NRES 898 Teaching and Learning about Water Systems.  We thank our project partners from the Groundwater Foundation and Water for Food Global Institute for contributing to making this workshop a successful experience for all involved.  We look forward to continuing to work with NE teachers through ongoing academic year activities and a teacher research experience in summer, 2018.

Dave Pierson successfully defends masters thesis

IMG_1075Congratulations to Dave Pierson for successfully defending his masters thesis entitled Elementary teachers’ assessment actions and elementary science education: Formative assessment enactment in elementary science.  Dave used RAES-Iowa project data to conduct a comparative case study investigating elementary teachers’ reasoning about students’ ideas and classroom formative assessment practices.  His committee members were myself, Soonhye Park, Associate Professor of Science Education in the University of Iowa College of Education, and Gabrielle Ludwig, Professor in the UI Department of Occupational and Environmental Health.  Dave, great work on this substantial accomplishment!

PIESC3 2013 publications

Core empirical results from the PIESC3 project were published this year in three journal articles:

Biggers, M., Forbes, C.T. , & Zangori, L. (2013). Elementary teachers’ curriculum design and pedagogical reasoning for supporting students’ comparison and evaluation of evidence-based explanations. The Elementary School Journal, 114(1), 48-72.

Forbes, C.T., Biggers, M., & Zangori, L. (2013). Investigating essential characteristics of scientific practices in elementary science learning environments: The Practices of Science Observation Protocol (P-SOP). School Science and Mathematics, 113(4), 180-190.

Zangori, L., Forbes, C.T., & Biggers, M. (2013). Fostering student sense-making in elementary science learning environments: Elementary teachers’ use of science curriculum materials to promote explanation-construction. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 50(8), 887-1017.

Each of these studies involves the use of our newly-developed observation protocol, the P-SOP, to investigate inquiry practices in elementary classrooms.  The paper in School Science and Mathematics details the development and testing of the P-SOP, as well as a comparison of features of inquiry evident in observed elementary science instruction.   The other two articles are mixed-methods studies using the P-SOP explore opportunities afforded students to  formulate and evaluate evidence-based explanations.

Article published in Science and Children

sc1201_48_1_smallA paper from the PIESC3 group has just been published in the September issue of Science and Children. The article outlines and describes accessible strategies for modifying existing science lessons and curriculum materials to better engage students in ‘science as inquiry‘ and scientific practices.

Zangori, L., Forbes, C., & Biggers, M. (2012). This is inquiry…right? Strategies for effectively adapting elementary science lessons. Science and Children, 50(1), 48-53.

These strategies have been developed, used, and refined through almost 10 years of work with both preservice and inservice elementary teachers as part of the CASES and PIESC3 project research. We are excited to share them with many more teachers through Science and Children!

RAES-Iowa Year 1 Summer Institute

In the summer of 2012, 36 3rd-6th grade teachers from 4 area districts and 14 buildings joined RAES project team members Cory Forbes, Christopher Soldat, Jeanne Bancroft, Kathy Long, Charlie Stanier, Mandy Biggers, Jaime Sabel, and Laura Zangori for 7 days of collaborative work to begin learning to use Reflective Assessment, a formative assessment strategy developed by the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS) for use with FOSS science modules. The summer institute focused on the Earth science content strand, within which teachers engaged with relevant content as learners, experimented with engaging in ‘high-leverage’ formative assessment practices, and planned to begin implementing Reflective Assessment in their enactment of their Earth science modules in the 2012-2013 academic year. We want to again thank all project partners, including the University of Iowa (UI) Colleges of Education and Engineering, Grant Wood Area Education Agency (GWAEA) and Van Allen Science Teaching Center (VAST Center), LHS at the University of California-Berkeley, the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research (CGRER), Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD), Washington Community Schools (WCSD), Clear Creek Amana Community School District (CCACSD), Highland Community School District (HCSD), and St. James School. A special thanks go out to Mark Brockmeyer and the Iowa City Schools for allowing us to hold the Summer Institute at the ICCSD Educational Services Building and to Kim Lange for joining us in July (while visiting from Germany) and providing helpful feedback.


RAES-Iowa project funded

RAESlogoThe Reflective Assessment for Elementary Science in Iowa (RAES-Iowa) project has been funded. More information about the project can be found here. I am thrilled to be working with an amazing group of project partners from the University of Iowa and CGRER, GWAEA and the VAST Center, FOSS at the Lawrence Hall of Science, and elementary teachers from the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD), Washington Community Schools (WCSD), Clear Creek Amana Community School District (CCACSD), Highland Community School District (HCSD), and St. James School on this project. The first workshops for teachers begin June 13 in Iowa City!

PIESC3 Year 1 Summer Institute

The first PIESC3 summer institute was held in Davenport, Iowa during the week of June 13. The PIESC3 team had the opportunity to work with an extraordinary group of 20 elementary teachers from the Davenport Community School District (DCS) around engaging students in scientific practices and inquiry in the classroom.


Article published in the Journal of Environmental Education

A paper from my masters thesis study has just been published in the January issue of the Journal of Environmental Education. The survey-based study focuses on practicing elementary teachers‘ beliefs about, perceived competencies for, and reported use of scientific inquiry to promote students’ learning about environmental issues and developing scientific literacy.

Forbes, C.T. & Zint, M. (2011). Elementary teachers’ beliefs about, perceived competencies for, and reported use of scientific inquiry to promote student learning about and for the environment. Journal of Environmental Education, 42(1), 30-42.

PIESC3 project funded

The PIESC3 (Promoting Inquiry-based Elementary Science through Collaborative Curriculum Co-Construction) project has been funded by the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust and University of Iowa. The project involves a quasi-experimental, non-randomized two group pre-/post- repeated measures research design, as well as in-depth case studies, over two years to investigate the effectiveness of the PIESC3 professional development program for elementary (K-5) teachers and to learn more about how elementary teachers use existing science curriculum materials to plan and engage in inquiry-based science. This project will be carried out in collaboration with the Davenport Community School District (DCS) and Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency.