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, 1997 2212 Benjamin Building

Professor: Dr. J. Randy McGinnis Class Hours: W 1:00pm -2:50pm
Office: 2226M Benjamin Office Hours: W 3:15 - 4:15pm
e-mail: jm250@umail.umd. edu 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:

A. Required

1. Barba, R. (1995). Science in the multicultural classroom. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

2. Ten short readings on reserve under the professor's name and course number in the Curriculum Laboratory, O220 Benjamin.

B. Optional (consult with your class professor)

American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1993). Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Chaille, C. & Britain, L. (1997). The young child as scientist: A constructivist approach to early childhood education. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.

Gallas, K. (1995). Talking their way into science. New York: Teachers College Press.

Jacobson, W.J. & Bergman, A.B. (1991). Science for children (3rd Ed.). New Jersey: Englewood Cliffs.

National Research Council, (1996). National science education standards. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Theoretical Foundation of Course:

This class is based on a professional knowledge for teaching based on research that has the following components:
Knowledge of curriculum
: The scope and sequence of programs and materials designed for teaching elementary science.
Knowledge of learners
: Information about/or characteristics of individuals and groups learning science in elementary contexts.
Knowledge of educational goals and assessment
: Identification of instructional objectives, methods of monitoring and adjusting instruction, and the evaluation of student progress in science.
Knowledge of social contexts
: An understanding of how classroom and school science goals and learning fit into the issue of community culture, values and the realities of the outside world.
Knowledge of pedagogy
: The strategies, techniques, models and theories of teaching and learning elementary science.
Knowledge of content: The facts, concepts, and structures within science that guide inquiry in elementary science instruction.

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:
(a) distinguishing observation from inference
(b) constructing procedures using process skills for verifying hunches about a problem, and
(c) conducting evidence-based investigations to inform questions of interest ( Knowledge of pedagogy; Knowledge of content).


I expect you to:
* be an active participant in class discussions and activities
* read and reflect critically on assigned readings
* collaborate with colleagues regarding teaching and learning
* share resources, readings, and thoughts
* complete assigned tasks to the best of your ability
* communicate expectations, frustrations, and ideas
* put as much into this course as you expect to get out of it!


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.

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

Course Components:

1. Class Participation
This important aspect of your professional growth in this class will be assessed by examining your performance in the following areas:

* Class Discussions of Readings
Throughout the semester, you are asked to read selections of your textbooks and other written materials and be prepared to discuss them in class. Several times during the semester, you will be selected to help lead the class discussions.

* Ongoing Reflection
Throughout the semester, you are asked to keep a journal in which you record your thoughts and feelings associated with teaching/learning science appropriate for elementary students. At least two journal entries per month (identified by date) are recommended. To assist you in this assignment, some weeks you will have structured questions on which to comment. This journal will be shared a minumum of once during the semester with a "journal partner" who will be responsible for adding a separate entry to your journal which comments on your reflections. This journal is due the last day of class.

* 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. Three times this semester you will engage in a conversation with a small learning group of your peers in which you describe how you would teach a specific science activity to children 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., makes a significant effort to be inclusive) and to actively involve your peers by allowing them to see and to try out the manipulatives included in your activity. A lesson plan is due on the day you are scheduled to teach. After each peer conversation, you will have an opportunity to engage in a short structured conversation with your peers on the lesson. A write-up reflecting on the experience will be turned in for review the following week. Also, unless indicated, the lesson plans you write for this assignment will be included in a class science lesson plan resourse book which you may purchase from Mailboxes, Etc. in the Stamp Student Center during the latter part of this semester.

2. Research, Instruction, and Assessment of Learning (RIA)
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 (ideally with a small group of
children but can be with the whole class). Prepare yourself to do this through reflecting upon your own experiences in learning about this topic or process and by reviewing relevant literature.

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

Part One:
a) summarizes scientific views of your topic (provide citations)
b) describes the background of the students you interviewed (i.e., their academic level, gender, and other information that distinguishes them as individuals)
c) includes the protocol you used to interview the students
d) presents a concept map of each student that represents your interpretation of the student' s responses as guided by the handout "Concept Map Evaluation."
e) summarizes your interpretation of the student's initial thinking
according to the evidence obtained during the interviews and depicted in the concept map

Part Two: Design a science learning experience for this topic that makes connection with another subject area (e.g. mathematics) 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. It is recommended that you work with students whose backgrounds are different from each other so that you gain additional experience in teaching science to all. Write a typed commentary (approximately 3-pages in length) that:

a) articulates ways in which your plans were influenced by learning about
students initial thinking through the interviews.

b) includes your lesson plan that is formatted in the EDCI 372A structure.

c) describes how you attempted to make connections between science and another subject area (your rationale and methodology)

d) assesses your students' learning and your teaching/learning.

3. Science Investigation

The purpose of this assignment is to help you develop and practice the skill to ask a question and to seek an answer to that problem in a scientific manner so that you will be better able to guide children to perform this in individual or group science inquiry projects. You are to plan and to conduct an investigation about a consumer product. You will present a poster report on your investigation that describes its crucial aspects (question, variables, findings, and your answer to the question). If your school placement is supportive and you wish to gain additional experience in working with children doing science inquiry, you may also work with a small group of children to develop and to carry out this project. However, you are ultimately responsible for the the process and the product being carried out in an accepted scientific manner.


This assessment will be an essay response to a scenario on the teaching of science on the elementary school level. This final commentary will require you to demonstrate knowledge of theory found in the course readings, class notes, 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. Participation
Discussions (10%)
Ongoing reflection (5%)
Peer Conversations (5% each; 15% total)
2. RIA
Part A (20%)
Part B (20%)

3. Science Investigation (20%)

4. Final Exam (10%)


A 90%-100%
B 80%-89%
C 70%-79%
D 60%-69%
F Below 60%

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

Note: The reading are due on the day they are cited in this schedule.

9/3 Concept mapping/ Overview of course

9/10 The nature of science and science teaching
The fair test/ the learning cycle
Reading #1: Science Teaching Yesterday
Reading #2: Concept Mapping
Barba: pp. 139-141
Reading #3: The Learning Cycle
Reading #4: Science in the elementary school
Barba: Chapter 3, pp. 52-69

9/17 Science process skills
Discrepant events/ safety
Planning instruction in science
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

9/24 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

10/1 Alternative conceptions Reading #11: The Earth is round? You've got to be kidding?

10/8 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.295-313
10/15 Science talks
Optional: Gallas: Chapter 2 (pp. 17-31);
Chapter 7 (pp. 62-68); Appendix B (pp. 106-112).

10/22 First Hour: Elementary sciencing: earth/space science
Second Hour: Making Connections Between Science and Mathematics on the Middle Level: (Part One)
Barba: Chapter 11 (portion): pp. 276-285

10/29 Making Connections Between Science And
Mathematics on the Middle Level: (Part Two)
Barba: Chapter 1, pp. 1-21

11/5 First Hour: Constructivism and science education
Optional: Chaille & Britain: Chapters 1,4, 8 and either 5, 6 or 7
Barba: Chapter 1 (portion): pp.18-19
Second Hour: Assessment in science education
Barba: Chapter 6 (portion): pp. 122-148

11/12 Science-Technology-Society (STS)
Barba: Chapter 10 (portion): 256-273; Chapter 13, pp. 320-333

11/19 Science as an inquiry--poster presentations

11/26 No class (credit for beginning of semester workshop on subject matter assessment)

12/3 Outdoor elementary science education
Course Debriefing

12/10 Week in schools (no class)

12/? Final Exam

Dr. R. McGinnis
EDCI 372 A

Assignment Due Dates


Peer Conversations 9/24; 10/8; 10/22

Part One 10/1
Part Two 11/5

Science Investigation 11/19

Final 12/17