Science Teaching Center

Department of Curriculum and Instruction

College of Education

University of Maryland

Curriculum and Instruction in Elementary Education: Science (3)

EDCI 372 A

Fall, 1999 2212 Benjamin Building

Professor: Dr. J. Randy McGinnis Class Hours: W 8:30 am-10:20 am

Office: 2226J Benjamin Office Hours: W 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm

e-mail: jm250@umail.umd. edu (or by appointment)

Telephone: 301-405-6234

Web sites: a. class []; b. professor []


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. (1998). Science in the multicultural classroom. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

2. National Science Teachers Association [NSTA]. (1999). NSTA pathways to the science standards: guidelines for moving the vision into practice. Washington, DC: NSTA.

3. Ten short readings on reserve under my name and this course number in the Curriculum Laboratory, O220 Benjamin.

B. Optional (consult with your class instructor)

1. American Association for the Advancement of Science. (1989). Science for all Americans. New York: Oxford University Press.

2. Ebenezer, J. V., & Lau, E. (1999). Science on the internet: A resource for K-12 teachers. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

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

4. National Research Council, (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: 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.

Performance Objectives

(Coded for the COE Theoretical Knowledge Base and the Elementary Education Program Assessment: Science Education [EEPA: SE])

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) EEPA:SE V-C

2. Recognize the diversity present in school populations and use that diversity to

enhance the instruction of science (Knowledge of learners) EEPA:SE V-A.1

3. Plan and teach inquiry based science content lessons that make connections across the curriculum and use a variety of media communication tools(Knowledge of pedagogy; Knowledge of content) EEPA: SE V-A.2,A.4, B.1, B.2, B.3

4. Demonstrate skills in planning appropriate science instruction for young children adjusted to accommodate individual differences in specific social contexts (Knowledge of curriculum; Knowledge of social contexts) EEPA: SEV-A.1, A-3

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 amenable to scientific inquiry (Knowledge of pedagogy; Knowledge of content) EEPA: SE V-B.1


I expect you to:

• be an active participant in class discussions and activities

• read and reflect critically on assigned readings

• collaborate with your cooperating teacher regarding teaching and learning

• share resources, readings, and thoughts

• complete assigned tasks to the best of your ability

• communicate expectations, frustrations, and ideas!


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 alternative 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. To assist you in this assignment, you will be given questions throughout the semester on which to comment. Additional entries are recommended but not required. This journal will be shared a minimum of once during the semester with a class "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 incorporates technology) 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 resource book.

2. Research, Instruction, and Assessment of Learning (RIA)

Early in the semester, consult with your cooperating teacher and select a science topic that your cooperating teacher will allow you to teach near the latter part of this semester (ideally with a small group of children but it can be with the whole class). Prepare yourself to do this through reflecting upon your own experiences in learning about this topic 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) in both text form and as a concept map you draw from this information.

b) describes the background of three students you interviewed (i.e., information you believe distinguishes them as individuals such as their academic level, gender, etc.)

c) includes the interview questions (the protocol) you used to interview the three students.

d) presents a concept map based on the interview responses that you draw of each student’s conception of the topic.

e) summarizes your interpretation of each of the student's initial thinking

according to the evidence obtained from the concept maps that you drew. Use the class handout "Concept Map Evaluation" to structure the terminology of your response.

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. The small group of three students you interviewed is preferable, but you may work with any other students at that grade level (including a large group) if upon negotiation with your cooperating teacher that is viewed 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 analysis of the concept maps you drew.

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 Inquiry Project

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. This investigation can target a consumer product or any other science concept amenable to a project-based approach. You will present a poster report on your investigation that describes its crucial aspects (driving question, procedures, findings, and your answer to the driving question with limitations identified). Ideally, your school placement will be supportive, and you will be able to work with children to accomplish this project. If that is not possible, please alert me so that alternative date collection strategies can be implemented. In all cases, you are ultimately responsible for the process and the product being carried out in an manner aligned with a scientific way of knowing.

4. Final EXAM

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 and class notes, and the ability to apply theory to the practice of teaching elementary school science.


I 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. I will also take into account your own assessment of your professional development in science teaching/learning. In addition, I will invite you to provide written feedback about the course at intervals throughout the semester. Also, please note that one third of each methods course is allocated to the field placement and is graded on a satisfactory/fail basis. The field placement requires 100% attendance. The intern must make up any missed field days. Failure to satisfactory complete the field placement will result in a 33.3% reduction of the course grade in each methods course.

Percentage breakdown:


1. Participation

Ongoing reflection through journal writing (5%)

Peer Conversations (5% each; 15% total)

2. RIA

Part A (25%)

Part B (25%)

3. Science Inquiry Project (20%)

4. Final Exam (10%)


A 90%-100%

B 80%-89%

C 70%-79%

D 60%-69%

F Below 60%

Notes: In compliance with and in the spirit of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), I would like to work with you if you have a documented disability that is relevant to your work in this course. If you wish to discuss academic accommodations, please contact me as soon as possible.

Also, I would like to underscore that this course is founded on academic integrity. The University’s Code of Academic Integrity ( details what this entails. To maintain a "community of trust" on the College Park campus, allegations of academic dishonesty can be reported to the Student Honor Council (314-8206) by any member of the campus community.

Dr. R. McGinnis

EDCI 372 A

Tentative Schedule

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

Date Topic

9/1 Concept mapping/ Standards Movement

9/8 Strategies for Scientific Teaching Practice (Part One):

The nature of science and science teaching

The fair test/ the learning cycle/ 5 "E" model of teaching

Reading: NSTA Pathways, pp. 102-110.

Barba: Chapter 1, also pp. 145-146, and pp. 194 -196.

Reading #1: Science Teaching Yesterday

Reading #2: A Concept Map

Reading #3: The Learning Cycle

Reading #4: Science in the elementary school

9/15 Strategies for Scientific Teaching Practice (Part Two):

Science process skills (basic and integrated)

Discrepant events/ safety

Barba: Chapter 9

Reading #5: Early adolescence: Using consumer science to develop experimental techniques

Reading #6: The collapsing aluminum can

9/22 First Hour: Elementary sciencing: physical science

Reading: NSTA Pathways, pp. 45-58.

Reading # 9: Magnetic fields and conceptual change

Second Hour: Conceptual Change Teaching Model

9/29 First Hour: Social Contextual Factors in Science Teaching

Barba: Chapter 5, (portion), pp. 111-113.

Second Hour: Alternative conceptions Reading #7: The Earth is round? You've got to be kidding?

10/6 First Hour: Elementary sciencing: Life science

Reading: NSTA Pathways, pp. 59-70.

Second Hour: Inclusive Science Education

Reading #9: A Collaborative Model for Science teachers and special educators

10/13 Making connections between science and reading/

language arts

Reading #8: Leafing it to your imagination

Barba: Chapter 12

10/20 First Hour: Elementary sciencing: earth/space science

Reading: NSTA Pathways, pp. 71-79.

Second Hour: Science talks

Optional: Gallas: Chapter 2 (pp. 17-31);

Chapter 7 (pp. 62-68); Appendix B (pp. 106-112).

10/27 First Hour: Science-Technology-Society (STS)

Barba: Chapter 13

Reading: NSTA Pathways, pp. 80-101.

Second Hour: Project-based science teaching model

11/3 Making Connections Between Science and Mathematics on the Middle Level: (Part One)

Barba: Chapter 11, (portion), pp. 294-301.

11/10 Making Connections Between Science And

Mathematics on the Middle Level: (Part Two)

Barba: Chapter 11, (portion), pp. 301-304, Chapter 10

Reading #10: Methods lesson, An "earful" investigation

11/17 Outdoor elementary science education

11/24 Credit for Authentic Assessment Workshop (MSPAP)

(no class)

Reading: NSTA Pathways, pp. 20-27.

Reading: Barba, Chapter 6

12/1 Science as a inquiry (poster displays)

Reading: NSTA Pathways, pp. 35-43.

End of the semester debriefing

12/8 Week in the schools, no class

12/16 Final exam


Dr. R. McGinnis

EDCI 372 A

Assignment Due Dates


Peer Conversations Performances: 9/22;10/6;10/20 Written products: 9/29; 10/13/ 10/27


Part One 10/13

Part Two 11/17

Science Investigation 12/1

Final 12/16 (Take home, due 3:00pm)