Curricula/Activities

Developing Formative Assessment Tools and Routines for Additive Reasoning

This design and development project is an expansion of the Ongoing Assessment Project (OGAP), an established model for research-based formative assessment in grades 3-8, to the early elementary grades. The project will translate findings from research on student learning of early number, addition, and subtraction into tools and routines that teachers can use to formatively assess their students' understanding on a regular basis and develop targeted instructional responses.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1620888
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2016 to Thu, 02/28/2019
Full Description: 

This design and development project is an expansion of the Ongoing Assessment Project (OGAP), an established model for research-based formative assessment in grades 3-8, to the early elementary grades. OGAP brings together two powerful ideas in mathematics education - formative assessment and research based learning trajectories - to enhance teacher knowledge, instructional practices, and student learning. Building on a proven track record of success with this model, the current project will translate findings from research on student learning of early number, addition, and subtraction into tools and routines that teachers can use to formatively assess their students' understanding on a regular basis and develop targeted instructional responses. The project involves a development component focused on producing and field testing new resources (including frameworks, item banks, pre-assessments and professional development materials) and a research component designed to improve the implementation of these resources in school settings. The materials that are developed from this project will help teachers be able to more precisely assess student understanding in the major mathematical work of grades K-2 in order to better meet the needs of diverse learners. With the addition of these new early elementary materials, OGAP formative assessment resources will be available for use from kindergarten through grade 8.

Although much attention has been paid to the improvement of early literacy, building strong mathematical foundations and early computational fluency is equally critical for later success in school and preparation for STEM careers. This project will develop and field test tools, resources, and routines that teachers can employ to help young students develop deeper conceptual understandings and more powerful and efficient strategies in the early grades. The project emerged from the needs of school-based practitioners looking for instructional support in the primary grades and uses design-based research methodology. The new materials will be developed, tested, and revised through multiple iterations of implementation in schools. Research-based learning trajectories will be consolidated into simplified frameworks that illustrate the overall progression of major levels of student thinking in the domains of counting, addition, and subtraction. A bank of formative assessment items will be developed, field tested, and refined through a three-phase validation process. Professional development modules will be designed and field tested to support teacher knowledge and effective use of the formative assessment tools and routines. Data collected on key activities in the formative assessment process (including teacher selection of items, analysis of student work, instructional implications, and enacted instructional response) will be used to continually inform development as well as illuminate the conditions under which formative assessment leads to productive changes in instruction and student learning in the classroom. The project will yield a set of field tested tools and resources ready for both broader dissemination and further research on the promise of the intervention, as well as an understanding of how to support effective implementation.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Scholars Teacher Academy Resident System

This project will investigate the effectiveness of a teacher academy resident model to recruit, license, induct, employ, and retain middle school and secondary teachers for high-need schools in the South. It will prepare new, highly-qualified science and mathematics teachers from historically Black universities in high-needs urban and rural schools with the goal of increasing teacher retention and diversity rates.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621325
Funding Period: 
Fri, 07/15/2016 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

This project at Jackson State University will investigate the effectiveness of a teacher academy resident model to recruit, license, induct, employ, and retain middle school and secondary science and mathematics teachers for high-need schools in the South. It will prepare new, highly-qualified science and mathematics teachers from historically Black universities in high-needs urban and rural schools. The project involves a partnership among three historically Black universities (Jackson, State University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff), and diverse urban and rural school districts in Jackson, Mississippi; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Pine Bluff Arkansas region that serve more than 175,000 students.

Participants will include 150 middle and secondary school teacher residents who will gain clinical mentored experience and develop familiarity with local schools. The 150 teacher residents supported by the program to National Board certification will obtain: state licensure/certification in science teaching, a master's degree, and initiation. The goal is to increase teacher retention and diversity rates. The research question guiding this focus is: Will training STEM graduates have a significant effect on the quality of K-12 instruction, teacher efficacy and satisfaction, STEM teacher retention, and students? Science and mathematics achievement? A quasi-experimental design will be used to evaluate project's effectiveness.

Supporting Teacher Practice to Facilitate and Assess Oral Scientific Argumentation: Embedding a Real-Time Assessment of Speaking and Listening into an Argumentation-Rich Curriculum (Collaborative Research: Henderson)

The fundamental purpose of this project is to support teacher practice and professional learning around oral scientific argumentation in order to improve the quality of this practice in classrooms. The key outcome of this work will be a research-informed and field-tested prototype to improve the quality of teaching and learning argumentation in middle school science classrooms usable in different learning environments.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621496
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2016 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

This is an early-stage design and development collaborative study submitted to the assessment strand of the Discovery Research PreK-12 (DRK-12) program, in response to Program Solicitation NSF 15-592. The fundamental purpose of this project is to support teacher practice and professional learning around oral scientific argumentation in order to improve the quality of this practice in classrooms. To achieve this purpose, the project will examine the validity of a new technology-based formative assessment tool for classroom argumentation--"Diagnosing the Argumentation Levels of Groups" (DiALoG)--for which psychometric validation work has been conducted in a laboratory setting. The DiALoG assessment tool allows teachers to document classroom talk and display scores across multiple dimensions--both intrapersonal and interpersonal--for formative assessment purposes. The project will work with 6th-8th grade science teachers to monitor and support argumentation through real-time formative assessment data generated by the DiALoG instrument. DiALoG will be used in conjunction with "Amplify Science", a Lawrence Hall of Science-developed curriculum that incorporates the science practice of engaging in argument from evidence, and a suite of newly developed Responsive Mini-Lessons (RMLs), which consist of 20-30 minute instructional strategies designed to assist teachers to provide feedback to students' thinking and follow-up to argumentation episodes that the DiALoG tool identifies in need of further support. The study will allow the refinement and expansion of DiALoG and evaluation of its impact on teacher pedagogical content knowledge and formative assessment practices in widespread classroom use.

The project will address two specific research questions: (1) How can DiALoG be refined to provide a formative assessment tool for oral argumentation that is reliable, practical, and useful in middle school classrooms?; and (2) How does the use of DiALoG affect teacher formative assessment practices around evidence-based argumentation, when implementing science units designed to support oral argumentation? In order to answer these questions, the project will conduct a randomized control trial with 100 teachers: 50 will teach argumentation-focused curriculum with DiALoG, 50 will teach the same curriculum without DiALoG. Both control and treatment teachers will receive all digital and physical materials needed to teach three Amplify Science curriculum units. Treatment teachers will be provided also with the most recent version of DiALoG, including the linked RMLs, as well as support materials for using DiALoG with the Amplify curriculum. A subgroup of focus teachers (5 from the treatment group, and 5 from the control group) will be the subject of additional data collection and analysis. Three focus lessons, in which students are engaging in small-group or whole-class oral argumentation, will be selected from each of the three Amplify Science curricular units. Teacher measures for the randomized control trial will include validated instruments, such as (a) a pre- and post-assessment of teacher pedagogical content knowledge; (b) post-lesson and post-unit surveys in which teachers will self-report on their formative assessment practices; and (c) video recordings of selected lessons in the focus classrooms. In order to observe potential differences in formative assessment practices between treatment and control, protocols will be used to analyze the video recordings of focus classrooms, including (a) Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol; (b) Assessment of Scientific Argumentation inside the Classroom; and (c) Formative Assessment for Teachers and Students. The key outcome of this work will be a research-informed and field-tested prototype to improve the quality of teaching and learning argumentation in middle school science classrooms usable in different learning environments.

Systemic Transformation of Inquiry Learning Environments for STEM (STILE 2.0)

The project is a four-year, early-stage design and development project aimed to refine a state-of-the-art professional development model to prepare K-8 teachers and instructional leaders in urban schools to facilitate and support successful K-8 STEM Education. The project will specifically explore which components of the program promote teacher change, which aspects of the program support structural changes for STEM teaching in schools, and what holds promise for interdisciplinary STEM teacher development.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1621387
Funding Period: 
Thu, 09/01/2016 to Mon, 08/31/2020
Full Description: 

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

The project at The Center for Technology and School Change (CTSC) at Teachers College, Columbia University, is a four-year, early-stage design and development project aimed to refine a state-of-the-art professional development model to prepare K-8 teachers and instructional leaders in urban schools to facilitate and support successful K-8 STEM Education. This project will explore the most effective features for preparing teachers to design and implement authentic STEM learning experiences in twelve high need elementary and middle urban schools across New York City and Yorkers. The project will specifically explore which components of the program promote teacher change, which aspects of the program support structural changes for STEM teaching in schools, and what holds promise for interdisciplinary STEM teacher development.

Participants in this project will design and implement transdisciplinary STEM projects and learn to develop and support STEM learning environments for their schools. As part of this overall process, researchers will refine a situated professional development curriculum, including a suite of digital case studies that will assist schools. The project will: 1) build a vision for trans-disciplinary STEM schooling; 2) design and implement STEM learning experiences; and 3) take capacity-building steps to sustain STEM practices. A mixed method design approach will be used to explore both the implementation of the project and the effect of implementation on participants.

CAREER: Making Science Visible: Using Visualization Technology to Support Linguistically Diverse Middle School Students' Learning in Physical and Life Sciences

Award Number: 
1552114
Funding Period: 
Wed, 06/01/2016 to Mon, 05/31/2021
Full Description: 

The growing diversity in public schools requires science educators to address the specific needs of English language learners (ELLs), students who speak a language other than English at home. Although ELLs are the fastest-growing demographic group in classrooms, many are historically underserved in mainstream science classrooms, particularly those from underrepresented minority groups. The significant increase of ELLs at public schools poses a challenge to science teachers in linguistically diverse classrooms as they try to support and engage all students in learning science. The proposed project will respond to this urgent need by investigating the potential benefits of interactive, dynamic visualization technologies, including simulations, animations, and visual models, in supporting science learning for all middle school students, including ELLs. This project will also identify design principles for developing such technology, develop additional ways to support student learning, and provide new guidelines for effective science teachers' professional development that can assist them to better serve students from diverse language backgrounds. The project has the potential to transform traditional science instruction for all students, including underserved ELLs, and to broaden their participation in science.

In collaboration with eighth grade science teachers from two low-income middle schools in North Carolina, the project will focus on three objectives: (1) develop, test, and refine four open-source, web-based inquiry units featuring dynamic visualizations on energy and matter concepts in physical and life sciences, aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS); (2) investigate how dynamic visualizations can engage eighth-grade ELLs and native-English-speaking students in science practices and improve their understanding of energy and matter concepts; and (3) investigate which scaffolding approaches can help maximize ELLs' learning with visualizations. Research questions include: (1) Which kinds of dynamic visualizations (simulations, animations, visual models) lead to the best learning outcomes for all students within the four instructional science units?; (2) Do ELLs benefit more from visualizations (or particular kinds of visualizations) than do native-English-speaking students?; and (3) What kinds of additional scaffolding activities (e.g., critiquing arguments vs. generating arguments) are needed by ELLs in order to achieve the greatest benefit? The project will use design-based research and mixed-methods approaches to accomplish its research objectives and address these questions. Furthermore, it will help science teachers develop effective strategies to support students' learning with visualizations. Products from this project, including four NGSS-aligned web-based inquiry units, the visualizations created for the project, professional development materials, and scaffolding approaches for teachers to use with ELLs, will be freely available through a project website and multiple professional development networks. The PI will collaborate with an advisory board of experts to develop the four instructional units, visualizations, and scaffolds, as well as with the participating teachers to refine these materials in an iterative fashion. Evaluation of the materials and workshops will be provided each year by the advisory board members, and their feedback will be used to improve design and implementation for the next year. The advisory board will also provide summative evaluation of student learning outcomes and will assess the success of the teachers' professional development workshops.

CAREER: Designing Learning Environments to Foster Productive and Powerful Discussions Among Linguistically Diverse Students in Secondary Mathematics

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1553708
Funding Period: 
Mon, 02/01/2016 to Sun, 01/31/2021
Full Description: 

The project will design and investigate learning environments in secondary mathematics classrooms focused on meeting the needs of English language learners. An ongoing challenge for mathematics teachers is promoting deep mathematics learning among linguistically diverse groups of students while taking into consideration how students' language background influences their classroom experiences and the mathematical understandings they develop. In response to this challenge, this project will design and develop specialized instructional materials and guidelines for teaching fundamental topics in secondary algebra in linguistically diverse classrooms. The materials will incorporate insights from current research on student learning in mathematics as well as insights from research on the role of language in students' mathematical thinking and learning. A significant contribution of the work will be connecting research on mathematics learning generally with research on the mathematics learning of English language learners. In addition to advancing theoretical understandings, the research will also contribute practical resources and guidance for mathematics teachers who teach English language learners. The Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program is a National Science Foundation (NSF)-wide activity that offers awards in support of junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

The project is focused on the design of specialized hypothetical learning trajectories that incorporate considerations for linguistically diverse students. One goal for the specialized trajectories is to foster productive and powerful mathematics discussions about linear and exponential rates in linguistically diverse classrooms. The specialized learning trajectories will include both mathematical and language development learning goals. While this project focuses on concepts related to reasoning with linear and exponential functions, the resulting framework should inform the design of specialized hypothetical learning trajectories in other topic areas. Additionally, the project will add to the field's understanding of how linguistically diverse students develop mathematical understandings of a key conceptual domain. The project uses a design-based research framework gathering classroom-based data, assessment data, and interviews with teachers and students to design and refine the learning trajectories. Consistent with a design-based approach, the project results will include development of theory about linguistically diverse students' mathematics learning and development of guidance and resources for secondary mathematics teachers. This research involves sustained collaboration with secondary mathematics teachers and the impacts will include developing capacity of teachers locally, and propagating the results of this work in professional development activities.


Project Videos

2019 STEM for All Video Showcase

Title: Fostering Math Discussions among English Learners

Presenter(s): William Zahner


A Task Force on Conceptualizing Elementary Mathematical Writing: Implications for Mathematics Education Stakeholders

The Elementary Mathematical Writing (EMW) Task Force was made up of educators with unique perspectives about elementary mathematical writing and with the goal to reach a consensus about and priorities for the types of and purposes for elementary mathematical writing. The EMW Task Force met in October 2015, analyzed elementary writing prompts and samples, standards documents, and recommendations, and identified four types of mathematical writing and their associated purposes: Exploratory, Informative/Explanatory, Argumentative, and Mathematically Creative.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1545908
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2015 to Wed, 08/31/2016
Full Description: 

Communicating about mathematical ideas by talking and writing is central to the teaching and learning of mathematics as it can help students learn concepts at a deeper level. More specifically, according to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), students should develop their ability to construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others in mathematics and write across content areas. However, there is limited guidance about how to teach students to write mathematically, how to evaluate students' mathematical writing, and the kinds of mathematical writing tasks to include in curriculum resources. This may mean that students do not experience the benefits from writing about their mathematical ideas.

The Elementary Mathematical Writing (EMW) Task Force was made up of educators who bring unique perspectives about elementary mathematical writing. It included practitioners and academics from the fields of mathematics education, mathematics, and writing education and who are knowledgeable about students who have special needs, are English language learners, and have been identified as gifted. With the ultimate goal of reaching consensus about and priorities for the types of and purposes for elementary mathematical writing, the task force reviewed student work, writing prompts, curriculum standards, and other items. They also suggested recommendations for future work in this area.

The EMW Task Force meth the goals of identifying, describing, and recommending productive types of and purposes for mathematical writing by elementary students. The four types of mathematical writing are:

  • Exploratory – with the purpose of personally making sense of a problem, situation, or one’s own ideas.
  • Informative/Explanatory – with the purposes of describing or explaining mathematical ideas.
  • Argumentative – with the purposes of constructing viable arguments and/or critiquing the reasoning of others.
  • Mathematically Creative – with the purposes of documenting original ideas, problems, and/or solutions; conveying fluency and flexibility in thinking; and elaborating on ideas.

The work and recommendations of the EMW Task force highlights the necessity of a comprehensive line of work related to mathematical writing at a critical juncture in the history of the field of mathematics education. The intellectual merit of this project, therefore, is in its potential to transform the field of mathematics education. The broader impacts include the facilitation of collaboration among and across disciplines and stakeholders.

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

Three-Dimensional Teaching and Learning: Rebuilding and Researching an Online Middle School Curriculum

This project will develop an online curriculum-based supported by a teacher professional development (PD) program by rebuilding an existing life science unit of Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) Middle School Science. The project is designed to be an exemplar of fully digital Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned resources for teachers and students, creating an NGSS-aligned learning environment combining disciplinary core ideas with science and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1502571
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2015 to Sat, 08/31/2019
Full Description: 

This project was funded by the Discovery Research K-12 (DRK-12) program that seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models, and tools. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects. The project, in collaboration with Oregon Public Broadcasting, will develop an online curriculum-based supported by a teacher professional development (PD) program by rebuilding an existing life science unit of Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS) Middle School Science. The materials will include strategically integrated multimedia elements including animations, interactive learning experiences, and enhanced readings for students, as well as classroom videos for teachers that will help all users gain a deeper understanding of three-dimensional learning. The project is designed to be an exemplar of fully digital Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned resources for teachers and students, creating an NGSS-aligned learning environment combining disciplinary core ideas with science and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts. Using the powerful affordances of a digital environment, the project will invigorate and inspire learners and support teachers as only a media-rich environment can do.

The project will develop and research the project innovation, the combination of digital instructional materials for students and online teacher PD using a proven lesson-analysis framework. Although prior research has demonstrated the efficacy of the lesson analysis PD and curriculum elements independently, there has been little investigation of their joint ability to transform teaching and learning. The project will merge research and development in this project by incorporating a complex array of multi-component assessment activities, including classroom-based assessments, in a quasi-experimental study. Assessment activities will be designed using an evidence-centered design process that will involve the careful selection and development of assessment tasks, scoring rubrics, and criteria for scoring based on the performance expectations (PEs) and the best ways to elicit evidence about student proficiency with those PEs. The research, carried out by SRI International, will use multi-component tasks that will support inferences about student learning and advance understanding of how to assess NGSS learning. Project research and resources, which will include a digital, middle school life sciences unit, teacher PD and online digital resources, and related assessment tools, which will be widely disseminated to policy makers, researchers, and practitioners.

Exploring Ways to Transform Teaching Practices to Increase Native Hawaiian Students' Interest in STEM

This project will integrate Native Hawaiian cross-cultural practices to explore ways to help teachers know about and know how to connect resources of students' familiar worlds to their science teaching. This project will transform the ways teachers orient their teaching at the upper elementary and middle grades through professional development courses offered at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1551502
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2015 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

This project will integrate Native Hawaiian cross-cultural practices to explore ways to help teachers know about and know how to connect resources of students' familiar worlds to their science teaching. This research is needed since Native Hawaiians are often stereotyped as poor learners; the available STEM workforce falls short of meeting the demands of STEM employers in the state; and as the largest group of public school enrollees, data show a greater decline in percent of students meeting or exceeding proficiency in science at higher grade levels. This project will address these issues by transforming the ways teachers orient their teaching at the upper elementary and middle grades through professional development courses offered at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

The professional development model for teachers will be situated in the larger national and global contexts of an increasingly technology oriented, urbanized society with associated marginalization of indigenous people whose traditional ecological knowledge and indigenous languages are often overlooked. Guided by the cultural mental model theory and a mixed methods approach, data will be collected through document analysis, surveys, individual and focus group interviews, and pre-post assessments. This approach will capture initials findings about the influence of the professional development model on teaching and learning in science. The end products from this project will be an improved professional development model that is more sensitive to contexts that promote learning by Native Hawaiian students. It will also produce a survey instrument to assess student interest and engagement in science learning whose teachers will have participated in the professional development model being explored. Both outcomes will potentially be instrumental in changing the way approximately 2000 Native Hawaiian students learn about and become more interested in STEM fields through their natural world.

Developing Integrated Elementary Science, Engineering, and Language Arts Curricula Aligned with Next Generation Science Standards

This project will conduct a study to develop and field-test curricula integrating science, engineering, and language arts at the elementary level which is aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Award Number: 
1551143
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2015 to Thu, 08/31/2017
Full Description: 

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers, through research and development of innovative resources, models and tools (RMTs). Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects.

Developing Integrated Elementary Science, Engineering, and Language Arts Curricula Aligned with Next Generation Science Standards is an exploratory project to conduct a study to develop and field-test curricula integrating science, engineering, and language arts at the elementary level. Research and Curriculum Development team consisting of master elementary science teachers, university professors including science, engineering, and science teacher education faculty, and a science education post doc or graduate student will engage in developing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned curricula integrating science, engineering, and language arts, and publishing STEM education research. The importance of this project will be the development of curricula integrating science, engineering, and language arts at the elementary level. Lesson plans or teaching activities in the integrated curricula will be written in practitioner article format. In the NGSS the engineering design is raised to the same level as scientific inquiry and included as a vital element of science education. This integrated approach aims to provide three-dimensional learning experience as specified in the NGSS to elementary students while meaningfully integrating engineering, science, reading, and writing through real life engineering design problems. The NGSS aligned curricula that will be developed in this project can also be used in other states that adopted the NGSS.

An Integrated curriculum for grades 1-2 will be developed in year 1. In year 2, the project will develop a curriculum for grades 3-5. Each year, the project will develop and field-test a new curriculum, and provide professional development organized around the integrated curriculum to 20 elementary teachers at the Clark County School District in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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