Unique Because of MCTP
EDCI 372: Elementary Science Methods
Dr. J. Randy McGinnis
UM College Park
The following are activities/circumstances that were unique to this section of the course and were facilitated by participation in/connection with MCTP:
An Emphasis on Mathematics and Science
1. I was able to recruit students with an area of emphasis in mathematics (4 teacher candidates) or science (8 teacher candidates) in addition to 9 MCTP teacher candidates. Twenty-one of the 31 students had either math or science as an area of emphasis.
2.. I used one demonstration lesson derived from work done by the MCTP faculty (McGinnis & Graeber: "The Island of Earf"]. This module makes links between mathematics and science as the teacher candidates participates as members of health clinics charged with determining what causes ear infections on an island.
Emphasis on Cognitive/ Constructivist Points of View
3. I focused on the cognitive/constructivist major view of teaching. I began the semester modeling how the teacher candidates could teach young learners the phases of the moon in a problem-based, interdisciplinary (mathematics and science), cooperative learning and technology rich manner. I continued modeling exemplary pedagogical practices throughout the semester in many other learning activities. The direction of innovation in this class was certainly set by MCTP.
4. I used the text The young child as a scientist: a constructivist approach to science methods as one text to support the constructivist perspective of the MCTP; I also used Multicultural Elementary Science Methods to support the MCTP perspective on diversity.
5. Reflection on key ideas and conceptual change was emphasized. The past reports of the value of journaling, by both students and MCTP instructors as well as our own experiences in more routine courses the previous semester led us to implement journaling. Students wrote journal entries. On the final exam students were asked to reflect on how their major concepts (big ideas) that they held about teaching science have been challenged or viewed in a different light.
6. I made more effort than usual to have performance based evaluation activities. I used a modified version of Peer Coaching (an MCTP mentor teacher advocated method) to guide the teacher candidates' three peer conversation experiences (on physical science, life science, and earth science). The majority of the class assignments were based on activities and data collected in the teacher candidate's field-based placements in elementary/middle schools. They all were evaluated (first by the teacher candidates themselves then by me) using rubrics that the teacher candidates assisted in developing.