Teacher Helping Teachers Teach Science Inquiry: The "Just ASK" Project

This project forms communities of practice among K-6 teachers using Web-based resources that allow audio and video connections in real time (http://justaskateacher.com) and conducts research that examines the impact of these communities of practice on school programs, teaching practices, and student achievement. We invite K-6 teachers and teacher educators to join us at http://justaskateacher.com.

Project Email: 
Project Evaluator: 
Sandra Enger
Full Description: 

Teacher Helping Teachers Teach Science Inquiry: The “Just ASK” Project

A Project Funded by the National Science Foundation

University of Missouri at St. Louis

K-6 Teachers:

We invite you to join us at http://justaskateacher.com. As a start, we have posted more than 100 lesson notes and more than 50 lesson videos to share with you—all for free.   Based on our ASK team’s success with lessons developed since 1986 in Science Co-op and PALs projects, we started in 2007 to help our local teachers (in elementary schools of rural and small-town districts in Missouri and Iowa )teach more than science by teaching inquiry science.Since 2007, we have been getting ready for you, wherever you are, to join us.

Like “Science Co-op” and “PALs” projects, “Just ASK:  Teachers Helping Teachers” is funded by the National Science Foundation to (1) study the effects of adapting science lessons for students to learn more than science while learning science through hands-on inquiry and (2) make it possible for teachers to help each other by sharing ideas. To share our “Just ASK” ideas we have opened our http://justaskateacher.com website so that teachers nationwide can read our lesson notes and view our lesson videos.

You may wish to merely chat with us via Email or in online (Elluminate) Community of Practice sessions or you may wish to share your own notes and videos for lessons you have adapted to "teach more than science.”  If you "just ask," we can help you create the notes as well as the videos--and perhaps offer you graduate credit for your participation with us. (Learn more about optional graduate credit on http://justaskateacher.com).

When we wrote our “Just ASK” proposal to the National Science Foundation, we were responding to the “Discovery Research K-12 (B2)” call for “full scale projects that provide resources and tools for use with K-12 teachers that (1) are grounded in research on teaching and learning, (2) incorporate appropriate technologies, (3) provide ubiquitous access to resources, tools and methods, and (4) show their potential to impact student and teacher learning nation-wide.” Our submission proposed to build on more than 25 years of our team’s NSF-funded work. Our teams of researchers and teachers had been adapting science lessons as a professional development strategy and developing distance technologies to allow small, rural school districts to develop and share ideas among themselves and then with teachers nationwide.

What is a Just Ask Lesson? We create ASK lessons whether the lesson is from a science kit, some other source, or a lesson created from scratch. “ASK” means “Adapting Science for Kids.” When we start to adapt a lesson, we ask ourselves, “How can I use this inquiry science so that it helps students learn something from my curriculum that is beyond science?  We like to add something to which the science contributes easily and which also contributes naturally to the science. Because K-6 teachers are always under time pressure, we try to make sure that the ASK lesson does not extend the time for the lesson.  Rather, we like the lesson to pull together the science with the other subject(s) into one effective and fun lesson. The students like it, we like it, and we get more done in the time that we have.

So, we invite you to check out some of our ASK lessons under “Shared Resources,” at http://justaskateacher.com. Here you can see our ideas in our lesson notes and in our lesson videos. We also hope you will join us by sharing your ideas in the “Contact Us” option and by live online “Community of Practice” (COP) sessions via Elluminate.   Try your hand with adaptation, and then share some of your ASK lessons. Check out our COP offerings by selecting "Schedule for live interactive sessions with teachers" on http://justaskateacher.com.

We are available by Email at matthewscc@umsl.edu.

Project Materials