Teacher Preparation > Workshops and Activities > Workshop 2007 > Workshop Program > Science for Elementary Teachers - Systems and Investigations

Theme Group 3: Earth Science for Elementary Teachers - Course Design

Group Members, Course Names

1. Lydia K. Fox, Earth System Science
2. Scott Linneman, Investigating the Flow of Matter and Energy in Earth Systems
3. Matt Nyman, Physical Science
4. Rebecca L. Dodge, Life and Earth Science
5. Cathy Summa, Earth - The Water Planet
6. Steve Mattox, Hydrosphere for K-8 Teachers

Rationale for Developing and Offering Such Courses (or how to convince your administration and colleagues to support your efforts in these endeavors)

The critical need to improve science literacy in the US is in part linked to producing a strong cadre of science teachers at all levels. This begins with elementary teachers, who can often make or break a child's interest in science. Unfortunately, many elementary education majors admit readily to being "scared of science", that they "can't do science", or, worst of all, that they "hate science." When probed, most admit that they had a "bad" (or non-existent) experience with science instruction in elementary or middle school. As a result, most students avoid science at the high school and college/university levels. To improve teacher preparation, it is important to build the disposition and ability to effectively teach science that fosters students' natural curiosity about the world. We submit that targeted classes that teach pre-service teachers to teach earth science at elementary grades is critical to achieving this goal. Teachers tend to teach the way they were taught. To ensure that teachers use a variety of instructional strategies including inquiry-based science that keeps students engaged, they must learn science this way. Courses modeled after these recommendations provide examples of ways to facilitate this vision.

Characteristics of Effective Earth Science Courses for Future Elementary Teachers

(Notes in the text below link to representative examples in the course descriptions)

Important Design Considerations: Guidelines, Tips, and Suggestions

Most of these considerations are substantially more expensive than all-lecture instruction, but the long-term gains of a scientifically literate society justify such investment.

References and Resources

Levine, A. (2006). Educating School Teachers. Washington, D.C.: The Educating Schools Project.

Lawson, A.E. (1994). Science Teaching and the Development of Thinking. Wadsworth Publishing Company.

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