Science Teaching Center
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
College of Education
University of Maryland at College Park

Curriculum and Instruction in Elementary Education: Science (3)
EDCI 372 A
Fall, 1995 2212 Benjamin Building

      Professor:  Dr. J. Randy McGinnis         Class Hours:  W 1- 2:50 pm
      Office:  2226M Benjamin                   Office Hours: W  3 - 4 pm
      e-mail:               or by appointment
      Telephone: 405-6234
Objectives, methods, materials and activities for teaching science in the elementary school; emphasis on teaching strategies which help children learn the processes and concepts of science. Includes laboratory/field experience.

Welcome to an exciting semester of learning how to teach science to elementary students! Throughout this semester you will be involved in cooperative and independent activities both on campus and in an elementary school that will enable you to become a confident, competent, and motivating teacher of science.

Course Materials:

Theoretical Foundation of Course:
This class is based on a professional knowledge for teaching based on research that has the following components: Course Objectives:
By the end of the semester you should be able to:
  1. Describe goals and assessment for science instruction that you consider reasonable expectations for elementary children (Knowledge of educational goals and assessment)
  2. Recognize the diversity present in school populations and use that diversity to enhance the instruction of science (Knowledge of learners).
  3. Plan and teach inquiry based science content lessons ( Knowledge of pedagogy; Knowledge of content).
  4. Demonstrate skills in planning appropriate science instruction for young children in specific social contexts (Knowledge of curriculum; Knowledge of social contexts)
  5. Demonstrate the ability to apply scientific methods of thought in solving problems in everyday life by:
I expect you to: Attendance:

Your participation is a vital aspect of this course. Now is the time in your professional development to work on your attendance and promptness. Please contact me ahead of time if there exists a conflict between class meeting times and other commitments.

Note: If you anticipate any absences due to religious observance, please provide advance notice so that make-up times can be arranged.

Course Assignments:

1. Journal Writing
Throughout the semester, you are asked to keep a weekly journal in which you regularly record your thoughts and feelings associated with teaching/learning science appropriate for elementary students. At least one journal entry per week (identified by date) is required. To assist you in this assignment, some weeks you will have structured questions on which to comment. This journal will be shared twice throughout the semester with a "journal partner" who will be responsible for adding an entry to your journal commenting on your reflections. The journal will be included in your portfolio.

2. Peer Conversations About Teaching/Learning Science
The purpose of these small peer group, cooperative teaching experiences is to help you develop confidence and experience in teaching topics in science with science equipment before you attempt them with children in schools. It also is an opportunity to create a class resource unit of science lesson plans that you can use throughout your career. Two times this semester, you will teach science activities that you find in science teacher journals or from other sources. You will be expected to adapt the activities you find with ideas that we discuss in this class (e.g. integrates the science activity with other subject and makes an effort to be inclusive). A lesson plan is due on the day you are scheduled to teach. At the end of your lesson, you will have an opportunity to engage in a short conversation with your peers on the lesson. A write-up reflecting on the experience will be turned in for review.

3. Science And Mathematics Teaching Survey
You are to survey your elementary classroom and school to determine the extent materials and opportunities exist for you to teach science and mathematics in that environment. This survey should include your observations and informal interviews with personnel at the school. Prepare a concise two-paged, typed evaluation that identifies:

4. Chesapeake Bay Unit
The purpose of this assignment is to demonstrate an integrated study (science and social studies) focused on a relevant and local issue. Patterns and relationships between the natural and the cultural environments will be explored. A unit plan will be required that exemplifies the goals of the across-the-curriculum movement in education.

5. Conducting Research, Designing a Learning Experience, Engaging Students in an Experience in Doing Science, and Assessing Learning
Early in the semester, consult with your cooperating teacher and select a science topic or process that your cooperating teacher will allow you to teach near the end of this semester with a small group of children. Prepare yourself to do this through reflecting upon your own experiences in learning about this topic or process, reviewing relevant literature, and facilitating a conversation with your peers about this topic or process as described for Assignment #2.

Then, write a typed commentary (approximately 3-pages in length) that:

Part Two: Design a science learning experience for this topic or process that is appropriate for students of the age with which you are working. A small group of three to five students is probably best but you may work with a larger group if upon negotiation with your cooperating teacher that is better in your context. If possible, work with students whose background differs from your own in gender, race, socio-economic status, need for special assistance, etc. Write a typed commentary (approximately 3-pages in length) that: III. Final Assessment This assessment will be a portfolio including a final commentary. The portfolio will consist of a three-ringed binder containing instructor directed items (including a final commentary and an evaluation of class portfolios) and a limited number of documents that you select which demonstrate your professional growth in science education. The final commentary will require you to demonstrate knowledge of theory found in the course readings and the ability to apply theory to the practice of teaching elementary school science.

Your instructor will provide written feedback at intervals throughout the course based on the quality of your contributions in class and the thoughtfulness of your written work. Your instructor will also take into account your own assessment of your professional development in science teaching/learning. In addition, your instructor will invite you to provide written feedback about the course at intervals throughout the semester.

Percentage breakdown:


  1. Science and Mathematics Teaching Survey (10%)
  2. Peer Conversations About Teaching/Learning Science (5% each)
  3. Chesapeake Bay Unit (25%)
  4. Conducting Research, Designing a Learning Experience, Engaging Students in an Experience in Doing Science, and Assessing Learning
  5. Final Assessment
A 90%-100%
B 80%-89%
C 70%-79%
D 60%-69%
F Below 60%

Note: If you have a documented disability and wish to discuss academic accommodations with me, please contact me as soon as possible.

Dr. R. McGinnis
EDCI 372 A

Tentative Schedule

Concept mapping/ Overview of course
H.W.: Reading #1: Science Teaching Yesterday
Reading #2: Concept Mapping
Barba: pp. 139-141

The nature of science and science teaching
The fair test/ the learning cycle
Due: Reading #3: The Learning Cycle
Due: Reading #4: Science in the elementary school
Barba: Chapter 3, pp. 52-69

Science process skills
Discrepant events/ safety
Reading #5: The processes in science
Reading #6: Early adolescence: Using consumer....
Reading #7: Classroom demonstrations
Reading #8: The collapsing aluminum can
Barba: Chapter 9, pp. 214-255

First Hour: Elementary sciencing: physical science
Reading # 9: Magnetic fields and conceptual change
Second Hour: Social Contextual Factors in Science Teaching
Barba: Chapter 12 (portion): pp.355-359

First Hour: Alternative conceptions Reading #11: The Earth is round? You've got to be kidding?
Second Hour: The Science Unit (Chesapeake Bay Environmental Study)

First Hour: Elementary sciencing: life science
Second Hour: Integrating science and reading/ language arts
Reading # 10: Leafing it to your imagination
Barba: Chapter 12 (portion): pp.295-30310/18 Constructivism and science education: Part One
Chaille & Britain: Chapters 1-4

First Hour: Elementary sciencing: earth/space science
Second Hour: Constructivism and science education: Part Two
Chaille & Britain: Chapters 5-8

Modeling the Integration of science with mathematics and instruction for all: An Earful Investigation (Part One)
Barba: Chapter 11 (portion): pp. 276-285

Modeling the Integration of science with mathematics and instruction for all: An Earful Investigation (Part Two)
Barba: Chapter 1, pp. 1-21

Performance-based assessment in science education
Barba: Chapter 6 (portion): pp. 122-148

Outdoor elementary science education

Week in the Schools

Technology in elementary science
(Science-Technology-Society (STS))
Barba: Chapter 10 (portion): 256-273; Chapter 13, pp.320-333

Final Exam (9:00am -11 am, rm. 2212)

Dr. R. McGinnis
EDCI 372 A

Assignment Due Dates

Journal writing:                            10/11;  11/1
Science and Mathematics teaching survey:    9/27
Peer Conversations (pick two out of three): 9/27;10/11;10/25	
Chesapeake Bay Unit:                        11/15
Instruction and assessment experience:      11/22	
Final Exercise, Portfolio:                  12/14
Professional Conference Dates

Maryland Association of Science Teachers (MAST) Conference and National Science Teachers Association NSTA) , Regional Meeting--Baltimore, November 16-18.