Instructional Practice

Teachers' Use of Standards-based Instructional Materials

This study explores the ways middle school mathematics teachers implement standards-based curriculum materials in urban schools. It takes the view that instructional materials are cultural tools and examines how teachers use these tools to plan and implement the curriculum in their classrooms. The study is using a mixed methods approach that combines surveys of teachers in 30 schools in the Newark Public Schools district and closer observations of teachers in selected case schools.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0732184
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Ashaki Coleman

Enhanced Earth System Teaching Through Regional and Local (ReaL) Earth Inquiry

The ReaL Earth Inquiry project empowers teachers to employ real-world local and regional Earth system science in the classroom. Earth systems science teachers need the pedagogic background, the content, and the support that enables them to engage students in asking real questions about their own communities. The project is developing online "Teacher-Friendly Guides" (resources), professional development involving fieldwork, and inquiry-focused approaches using "virtual fieldwork experiences."  

Award Number: 
0733303
Funding Period: 
Wed, 08/15/2007 to Sat, 07/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
BridgeWater Education Consulting LLC
Full Description: 

This recruitment and informational video provides an overview of the ReaL Earth Inquiry Project. 

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

Radford Outdoor Augmented Reality (ROAR) Project: Immersive Participatory Augmented Reality Simulations for Teaching and Learning Science

This project anticipates the needs of learners in 10 years by developing and testing two learning simulations that are immersive, interactive, and participatory and use augmented reality in the outdoors. Students work in teams to investigate phenomena and solve problems in a gaming environment using wireless handheld GPS units. Using a design-based, mixed-methods approach, the researchers examine the relationships among augmented reality, learning in science, socio-emotional outcomes, and the demographic characteristics of rural, underserved students.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822302
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/15/2008 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Full Description: 

This project anticipates the needs of learners in 10 years by developing and testing two learning simulations that are immersive, interactive, and participatory and use augmented reality in the outdoors. Students work in teams to investigate phenomena and solve problems in a gaming environment using wireless handheld GPS units. Using a design-based, mixed-methods approach, the researchers examine the relationships among augmented reality, learning in science, socio-emotional outcomes, and the demographic characteristics of rural, underserved students.

Making Sense of Global Warming and Climate Change: Model of Student Learning via Collaborative Research

A major scientific issue of our time is global warming and climate change. Many facets of human life are and will continue to be influenced by this. However, an adequate understanding of the problem requires an understanding of various domains of science. There has been little research done on effects of intervention on student learning of these topics. This project shows an improvement in student knowledge of climate change and related issues.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822181
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/15/2008 to Wed, 07/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. Iris Johnson, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

Cyber-enabled Design Research to Enhance Teachers' Critical Thinking Using a Major Video Collection on Children's Mathematical Reasoning (Collaborative Research: Maher)

This project is working to create a cyber infrastructure that supports development and documentation of additional interventions for teacher professional development using the video collection, as well as other videos that might be added in the future by teacher educators or researchers, including those working in other STEM domains.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822204
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/15/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Video Mosaic Collaborative features  videos of student mathematics reasoning,  tools and services to encourage learning, research and practices fostering the development of student reasoning.  The VMC is a collection and service portal intended to support three primary audiences—teacher educators and their pre-service and in-service students, practicing teachers, and researchers.  The Video Mosaic Collaborative features a 22-year longitudinal study of students’ mathematical reasoning skills as they are developed from elementary through high school grades.  The VMC has been carefully designed to leverage the insights and strategies that can be mined in this extensive and unique video collection featuring observations, interventions and interviews with students solving mathematics problems in the classroom and in informal learning settings.  A careful metadata strategy was designed by the library and education research partners in collaboration to capture elements for searching that include forms of reasoning and heuristics, math strand, math problem, NCTM standards, grade level and type of educational environment.  Students and researchers are identified and can be individually tracked through the collection.  Transcripts, student work and dissertations resulting from the videos are linked in metadata.  Tools, such as the VMCAnalytic, a video annotation and analysis tool, are provided to enable registered participants to reuse the videos for instruction, study and research by creating personal clips and combining clips to accomplish research goals such as demonstrating changes in reasoning for an individual student studying probability over several video sessions.  Unlike other video annotation tool, the VMC analytic creates  XML-based independent resources that can be kept private in the researcher’s workspace but that can also be shared.  Shared analytics will be mined for keywords, which will retrieve the video(s) being analyzed, thus adding user tagging to the metadata for the videos.  The analytic resources created are not independently searched and displayed but will display as part of the context for the videos in the collection, along with student work, dissertations, and ultimately published articles, etc., all of which form the critical context of research and study surrounding each video.

Different search strategies, guidance in using videos and opportunities to consult or collaborate with others will be provided for each primary audience of the VMC.  The latest iteration of the portal, with collections and services available for immediate use, will be presented and demonstrated at the DRK12 Principal Investigators’ meeting poster session.  Visitors to the poster will be encouraged to search the portal and to create a small analytic, in a hands-on, interactive one on one demonstration.  We believe that the VMC makes a unique and significant contribution to the efforts of teacher educators, practicing teachers and researchers to discover insights and develop innovative strategies to support the development of student reasoning in mathematics education.

PUM (PhysicsUnionMathematics) Exploration

The PuM project develops and conducts research on a learning continuum for seamless instruction in middle school physical science and high school physics. The ultimate goal is to use physics as the context to develop mathematics literacy, particularly with students from underrepresented populations and special needs students. The research component analyzes the effects of the curriculum on students' learning while simultaneously investigating teachers' pedagogical content knowledge in a variety of forms.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733140
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Tue, 08/31/2010

A Longitudinal Randomized Trial Study of Middle School Science for English Language Learners (Project MSSELL) (Collaborative Research: Irby)

Project MSSELL will conduct a two-year randomized trial longitudinal evaluation of an enhanced standards-based science curriculum model. In Year 1, the project will refine and pilot the model based on learnings from its previous developmental phase and implementation with K-3 grade students. In Years 2 and 3, the enhanced model will be implemented and studied with fifth- and sixth-grade students.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822153
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Fri, 08/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Dr. David Frances

Learning Progressions for Scientific Inquiry: A Model Implementation in the Context of Energy

The project has had three major areas of focus:  (1) Offering professional development to help elementary and 6th grade teachers become more responsive teachers, attending and responding to their students' ideas and reasoning; (2)  Developing web-based resources (both curriculum and case studies) to promote responsive teaching in science; and (3) research how both teachers and students progress in their ability to engage in science inquiry. 

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0732233
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Mon, 12/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Lawrence Hall of Science

Bridging the Gap Between Content Knowledge and Practice: Improving Middle School Teachers' Content Knowledge and Classroom Practices

This project focuses on scaling up the SimCalc project and emphasizes bridging mathematical knowledge for teaching (MKT) on proportional reasoning and argumentation as part of teachers' classroom practices. This project will test the hypothesis that professional development that helps to bridge content knowledge and classroom practice can effect positive teacher change and seeks to understand how this is accomplished.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0455868
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2005 to Sat, 07/31/2010

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