This project brings together teams of teachers, teacher educators, administrators, and researchers to inquire into the development of ambitious and equitable practices that support learning the scientific practices and creating scaffolds for the special language demands of the scientific practices, particularly for English Language Learners.
The college and career readiness standards in science represent both a challenge and an opportunity for educators. The opportunity lies in the vision that new standards set for the creation of a STEM ready workforce and scientifically literate citizens. Specifically, the standards clarify important content and science practices that students should be proficient in by the time they graduate. The bar is set higher for students, not only in terms of the content and practices but also in terms of the inherent linguistic demands of participating in the practices. Consequently, more will be required of teachers, teacher educators and the broader education community.
This project brings together teams of teachers, teacher educators, administrators, and researchers to inquire into the development of ambitious and equitable practices that support learning the scientific practices (such as developing and using scientific models, and building evidence-based scientific explanations and arguments, communicating findings, etc.) and creating scaffolds for the special language demands of the scientific practices, particularly for English Language Learners (Lee, Quinn & Valdés, 2013). The researchers are implementing a model for change referred to as a Networked Improvement Community, or NIC (Bryk, Gomez & Grunow, 2011). This community will link Local Improvement Networks (LINs are groups of teachers, teacher educators, administrators and researchers) through a web-based technological infrastructure to support the continual improvement of rigorous and equitable forms of classroom instruction. The LINs are all working with high English Language Learner populations and are committed to improving science instruction for all students. The investigators are helping LINs define a problem space using the standards, performance progressions for ambitious teaching practices, and data on students' performance on assessments. As a community, the investigators use these resources to ask: What works? For whom? And under what conditions? More than just sharing tools or training teacher developers, the NIC is engaged in rapid prototyping of tools and practices with a specific focus on improving instruction for English Language Learners. The Networked Improvement Community affords the opportunity for members to share and empirically test tools and other curricular resources so that productive variations of practices and tools can be generated. The system will accelerate the development of both teaching practices and professional learning models aligned with the college and career ready standards in science and understanding how to develop and sustain NICs that are oriented specifically around the improvement of instruction.