Jim Allison: Breakthrough


Forums / Professional Learning / Teaching Teachers

Professional Learning

Teaching Teachers

Author Post
Rhonda Adams Rhonda Adams 3481 Points

I am hoping to do a professional development with my school to get all teachers, no matter what subject, to incorporate the science more.  I am wondering if any of you have had experience with this, or perhaps share any strategies you have used to get people on board with this idea.  Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Pamela Dupre Pamela Dupre 92349 Points

I hear you Rhonda and if we do not do a better job of incorporating science into daily lessons, our students will not know any scientific fundamentals. Sadly, as a STEM Teacher and as a Lead Teacher, unless the administration pushes it, teachers will not participate. Like Mary said, they are already stressed. Even though I planned with them and helped to give them materials, co-taught, and gave them every kind of support I could, science wasn't addressed unless I was present during class. 

In my area, science is never presented at professional development unless it is rolled out with a new "materials" presentation. By materials, our district means books. When they say materials, I always look foolish because I'm craning my neck looking for actual science tools, and I'm always disappointed when it turns out to be a box of readers and a flash drive. 

Emily Faulconer Emily Faulconer 5245 Points

I had a lot of fun with this task in my college (College of Arts and Sciences), except my goal was to infuse other disciplines into my science course (though the activity can easily go both ways). We wanted to infuse more STEM and humanities concepts into the online Chemistry course. Some of the easiest steps we took were to

1) Change the module titles to be engaging and point to other disciplines. Instead of "solution chemistry", the module is now called "The Liquidation of Witches" and the introduction discusses whether or not the Wicked Witch of the West dissolved when doused with water. Instead of "introduction to chemistry", the module is now called "Bacon and Gunpowder", which points to Francis Bacon, who first reported the formulation for gunpowder. This module covers the basic math of chemistry (dimensional analysis, significant figures, etc.) and properties of matter. Gunpowder is a great substance for a discussion of properties. Bacon also has a great quote about math: "Mathematics is the door and key to the sciences.". 

2) Review the background information for discussions and other activities to ensure that crossover concepts are discussed. I am working on generating engaging demonstration videos for the online chemistry course. In discussing the chemical and physical properties of nitrocellulose, I am able to tie in Les Paul guitars, early 1900s cinema, Jules Verne, and so much more! 

I had a lot of fun with this activity and by my invitation for other disciplines to cross over into chemistry, I have since been invited to help others infuse chemistry into their courses (mathematics, engineering, literature, speech, etc.). 

Mary Bigelow Mary Bigelow 10180 Points

Hi Rhonda -- Teaching teachers is challenging. We have so much on our plates already! When we use the idea of incorporating science into subjects, it could imply that science is still an "extra." The attempts at integration could be hit-or-miss or sporadic, not planned and puposeful science instruction focusing on NGSS or local standards. If you're dealing with elementary teachers, perhaps another strategy could be to take a science lesson (such as one from NSTA's Science and Children) and have teachers identify the language arts and math concepts that are used and reinforced in the lesson. For example: creating and interpreting graphs, performing calculations, measuring, reading for information, analyzing text, vocabulary, summarizing, oral discussion, expository writing, creating infographics, explaining through diagrams, organizing information into charts or tables, etc. I knew a fourth-grade teacher who did action research using this approach and made science the focus of instruction. His students scored as well as, if not better, on the math and reading tests as students who didn't do science until the tests were over in the spring! --Mary

Kaylie Dahlgren Kaylie Dahlgren 2090 Points

Hello! I am a senior at University Northern Iowa studying early childhood education as well as elementary education with a minor in literacy education. I am part of a professional devleopment school in my school's area. What we do is we have partnered with a school in which they allow us to go on Thursday's and teach a science lesson to a class. For me, the first four weeks I was in a third grade classroom teaching science. Now, I am in a kindergarten classroom. It is a wonderful experience for me, a preservice teacher, and also for the students. 

Anne Lowry Anne Lowry 6890 Points

This is actually one of my main treaining areas!  I have yet to find a topic that did not have some relationship to science.  For example:  music - sound waves, materials, conduction, and hearing.  Then you add in the neuroscience layer (Guess what training I'm giving next week).  I agree with Emily:  find crossover concepts and use them; the more connections with information people make, the better the information is retained, and the better they can teach others

Another successful approach to teaching teachers is the same as teaching students:  give them things to do (almost everyone "thinks with their hands") that do not have a right / wrong answer and are within their expertise.  Stretching their expertise is usually one goal of trainings, but making too big of a leap is the same as making too big of a leap with your students.

Related to that is not giving too much information.  I know, we all want to learn everything.  But realistically, most peopel glaze over if they receive too much information at one time.  Break the information into related, logical chunks  (based on your group) and offer good follow up resources.  The NSTA Learning Center is a great choice.  if you have internet access, you can show them live, which is powerful!  If you can, break complicated trainings into different sessions.  i do that locally, but that can be difficult depending upon your logistics.

Finally, give the teachers options to move and talk in addition to using their hands.  Train the way you want to learn, and have fun with it!

Good luck


Brittany Alao Brittany Alao 580 Points

I and some of the teachers I work with receive weekly emails with problem-based learning activities. I believe it's called the PBL project.  These usually include a particular topic and gives activities and strategies that each content area can use. These are actually really great because they encourage interdisciplinary learning. Perhaps you and the other teachers could join it. 

Post Reply

Forum content is subject to the same rules as NSTA List Serves. Rules and disclaimers