Pre-Kindergarten

An Investigation of Elementary Teachers' Learning, Understanding and Use of Research-based Knowledge about Students' Mathematical Thinking

This project uses classroom and individual teaching experiments, along with numerous and extensive interviews, to investigate: (a) the nature of teachers' understandings of students' mathematical thinking before and after instruction on that thinking, (b) the processes by which teachers learn about students' mathematical thinking while participating in instruction, (c) factors affecting teachers' learning of this material and (d) effects of learning this material on teachers' conceptualizations of mathematics learning, teaching and assessment .

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0838137
Funding Period: 
Sun, 06/01/2008 to Mon, 05/31/2010

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears: Integrating Literacy and IPY in the K-5 Classroom

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, an online professional development magazine for elementary teachers, focuses on preparing teachers to teach science concepts in an already congested curriculum by integrating inquiry-based science with literacy teaching. Launched in March 2008, each thematic issue relates elementary science topics and concepts to the real-world context of the polar regions and includes standards-based science and content-rich literacy learning.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733024
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Wed, 08/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Evaluation & Assessment Center, Miami University, Oxford, OH
Full Description: 

Blockbuster movies and even soft drink commercials have made our planet's polar regions and their inhabitants popular culture superstars. At the same time many people have either been confronted with what they believe to be climate change weather events, or find themselves wondering about how melting polar ice sheets and rising ocean temperatures might affect their lives in the future. Despite this onslaught of data, scientific discovery, drama, and speculation, misconceptions about the polar regions and their importance abound.

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, an online professional development magazine for elementary teachers, focuses on preparing teachers to teach science concepts in an already congested curriculum by integrating inquiry-based science with literacy teaching. Such an integrated approach can increase students' science knowledge, academic language, reading comprehension, and written and oral discourse abilities. Each issue reflects the four strands of science proficiency (as described in Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8) by providing scientific explanations and including lessons that ask students to generate scientific evidence and to reflect on and participate in the processes of science.

Launched in March 2008, each thematic issue relates elementary science topics and concepts to the real-world context of the polar regions and includes standards-based science and content-rich literacy learning across five departments (In the Field: Scientists at Work, Professional Learning, Science and Literacy, Across the Curriculum, and Polar News and Notes). The magazine has covered many common earth and space science topics (geography, seasons, rocks, minerals and fossils, the water cycle, energy, erosion) and is now turning to plants, animals, and other life science topics. The indigenous peoples of the Arctic, climate change, and polar research and explorers will round out twenty planned issues.

In addition to highlighting and contextualizing existing digital resources such as science and literacy lesson plans, the magazine also includes multimedia such as images, video clips, and podcasts. A monthly column, Featured Story, provides a nonfiction article written for students and available at three grade levels as text, printable books, and electronic books with narration. The Virtual Bookshelf, written by a children's librarian, recommends quality children's literature to complement and extend the science activities. A regular column details commonly held misconceptions and provides assessment tools for use classroom use. In addition to the online magazine, users can create and share knowledge and connect with colleagues through the blog and social network.

Early evaluation efforts for Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears have been positive. Science, literacy, and education experts asked to review cyberzine issues commented that it "provides a substantive dialogue regarding how integrating science-literacy instruction can enhance teaching and learning" and that articles and ancillary resources were accurate, developmentally appropriate, and easily accessible for teachers and students. Reviewers also described the web site as "beautifully designed, [containing] an enormous amount of helpful, practical information and...very well written." Preliminary pilot testing demonstrated that teachers felt they increased their own content knowledge about the polar regions as well as science in general, changed the science curriculum in their classroom and the ways in which they used educational technology, and gained confidence in teaching science to their students. Additionally, students whose teachers participated in pilot testing benefitted as well. Preliminary testing indicated statistically significant changes in third grade students' attitudes towards science. Following exposure to the Beyond Penguins materials and activities, they agreed less with the statement "Science is mostly memorizing facts" and more with the statement "Writing is important in science." Beyond Penguins also received an "A+" rating from the Education World web site in January 2009.

Beyond Penguins and Polar Bears, funded by the National Science Foundation, brings together a team of collaborators including an interdisciplinary team from Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology; the Ohio Resource Center for Mathematics, Science, and Reading; the Byrd Polar Research Center; The Columbus Center for Science and Industry (COSI); the Upper Arlington Public Library; and the National Science Digital Library (NSDL). The Evaluation and Assessment Center at Miami University in Oxford, OH is conducting ongoing project evaluation including teacher focus groups, pilot testing, and usability testing that informs the development process.

Contact Information:

Jessica Fries-Gaither
Project Director
The Ohio State University
College of Education and Human Ecology
School of Teaching and Learning
1929 Kenny Rd., Suite 400
Columbus, OH 43210
fries-gaither.1@osu.edu
614-247-7893

Multimodal Science: Supporting Elementary Science Education through Graphic-enhanced Communication

This project enhances elementary students' engagement in and learning of science through visual communication skills using student-generated graphics in science notebooks. The products include two professional development modules for each grade level 2–5 that explicitly teach specific forms of graphical representation used in science, how these representations complement written and numeric information, and how teachers can promote the thoughtful reflection and discussion of these representations in small-group and whole-class settings.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733217
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Wed, 06/30/2010
Project Evaluator: 
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Full Description: 

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Quality Cyber-enabled, Engineering Education Professional Development to Support Teacher Change and Student Achievement (E2PD)

In this project, a video and audio network links elementary school teachers with researchers and educators at Purdue to form a community of practice dedicated to implementing engineering education at the elementary grades. The research plan includes identifying the attributes of face-to-face and cyber-enabled teacher professional development and community building that can transform teachers into master users and designers of engineering education for elementary learners.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822261
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/15/2008 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
Rose Marra, University of Missouri-Columbia

Investigating the Needs of Elementary School Teachers of Mathematics at Different Points During Sustained Professional Development

This project seeks to map a trajectory for the evolution of elementary school mathematics teachers engaged in sustained professional development. The goal of the project is to identify and understand the evolution of elementary school mathematics teachers' changing perspectives and needs as they participate in professional development. Drawing from a pool of more than 500 teachers, the sample includes 120 elementary school mathematics teachers engaged in sustained professional development for different lengths of time.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0455785
Funding Period: 
Wed, 06/01/2005 to Mon, 05/31/2010

Designing Professional Development Resources that Lead to Effective Science and Expository Writing Instruction

This project is developing professional resources to help elementary teachers strengthen their students' writing skills, particularly writing in science notebooks. The proposed resources would include print and multi-media formats for teachers and handbooks for their professional development providers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0554651
Funding Period: 
Sat, 04/01/2006 to Sat, 03/31/2012

Temple University Science Math Assessment Research for Teachers (TU-SMART)

This project studies the impact of emphasizing formative assessment strategies in concurrent undergraduate methods courses and STEM content courses on the subsequent teaching practices of these pre-service teachers and their students. The study focuses on future middle school STEM teachers. The mixed methods research design will examine the impact of the treatment on teachers' practices during their practicum and induction years and on the STEM achievement of their middle school students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0455786
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2005 to Sat, 07/31/2010

Foundations of Algebra in the Elementary and Middle Grades: Supporting Students to Make, Represent and Justify General Claims about Operations

This project develops images, extended examples, and principles that illustrate how the articulation, representation and justification of general claims about operations evolve in the elementary grades and how this work supports the transition from arithmetic to algebra in the middle grades. An online course uses the Sourcebook as a text to engage teachers in considering the underlying pedagogical and mathematical aspects of the work and implementing these ideas in their instruction.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0550176
Funding Period: 
Sat, 07/01/2006 to Thu, 06/30/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Megan Franke

Assessing the Educational, Career, and Social Impacts of the XO Laptop Program in Birmingham, AL City Schools

The mayor of Birmingham is making a two year loan of XO laptops to middle school students in the Birmingham City Schools in Alabama. The educational and social changes that will occur in classrooms and the effects on several student outcomes are studied in this Small Grant for Exploratory Research. It is expected that access to technology will change the educational and social environment in classrooms and affect student outcomes.

Award Number: 
0819063
Funding Period: 
Tue, 04/15/2008 to Thu, 09/30/2010

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