Middle School

Developing an Online Game to Teach Middle School Students Science Research Practices in the Life Sciences Collaborative Research: Metcalf)

This project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing STEM literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907398
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways. Learners will take on the role of a scientist working at an ocean-floor research station, cut off from the surface due to a catastrophe. They must identify problems, design experiments, create models, and argue from evidence to lead the station to survival. Learners will be challenged with highly relevant, contemporary issues such as waste management, energy use/production/storage, and ecological sustainability in the setting of a fantastical story. Designed for Grades 5-8, the game will be playable in 30-minute segments and will work on Chromebooks and tablet computers. The game will involve 40 educators in a yearlong fellowship where they will become co-designers, steer the project to serve the diverse students they represent, learn about games in education, facilitate playtests in their classrooms, and report their experiences to peers. The resulting game, in English and Spanish, will be utilized by at least 162,000 students by the end of the project and hundreds of thousands more after the project is completed. The project will broaden access through digital distribution and minimal technology requirements, which will create a low-cost opportunity for students to engage in science practices, even in schools where time, equipment, or expertise are not available.

Learning progressions are the steps that students go through when they are learning about a topic. The project will research how learning progressions can provide a framework for educational game design. These progressions will be empirically derived from large audience game play data. The game can thus be designed to create personalized interventions for students to improve learning outcomes. Project research will use an approach called stealth assessment, which analyzes data from students' game behavior without requiring a disruption or intervention in the game activities. This project will use this approach for developing empirically validated understandings of how different students develop their science practices. Based on this research, the game will be revised to improve student learning by providing individualized feedback to each student.

Developing an Online Game to Teach Middle School Students Science Research Practices in the Life Sciences (Collaborative Research: Baker)

This project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing STEM literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907437
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways. Learners will take on the role of a scientist working at an ocean-floor research station, cut off from the surface due to a catastrophe. They must identify problems, design experiments, create models, and argue from evidence to lead the station to survival. Learners will be challenged with highly relevant, contemporary issues such as waste management, energy use/production/storage, and ecological sustainability in the setting of a fantastical story. Designed for Grades 5-8, the game will be playable in 30-minute segments and will work on Chromebooks and tablet computers. The game will involve 40 educators in a yearlong fellowship where they will become co-designers, steer the project to serve the diverse students they represent, learn about games in education, facilitate playtests in their classrooms, and report their experiences to peers. The resulting game, in English and Spanish, will be utilized by at least 162,000 students by the end of the project and hundreds of thousands more after the project is completed. The project will broaden access through digital distribution and minimal technology requirements, which will create a low-cost opportunity for students to engage in science practices, even in schools where time, equipment, or expertise are not available.

Learning progressions are the steps that students go through when they are learning about a topic. The project will research how learning progressions can provide a framework for educational game design. These progressions will be empirically derived from large audience game play data. The game can thus be designed to create personalized interventions for students to improve learning outcomes. Project research will use an approach called stealth assessment, which analyzes data from students' game behavior without requiring a disruption or intervention in the game activities. This project will use this approach for developing empirically validated understandings of how different students develop their science practices. Based on this research, the game will be revised to improve student learning by providing individualized feedback to each student.

Developing an Online Game to Teach Middle School Students Science Research Practices in the Life Sciences (Collaborative Research: Gagnon)

This project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing STEM literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways.

Award Number: 
1907384
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The project will develop and research AquaLab 9, an online video game to engage middle school students in learning science research practices in life sciences content. By engaging in science research practices, students will develop intellectual skills that link directly to many state academic standards and are important for developing Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) literacy and pursuing STEM career pathways. Learners will take on the role of a scientist working at an ocean-floor research station, cut off from the surface due to a catastrophe. They must identify problems, design experiments, create models, and argue from evidence to lead the station to survival. Learners will be challenged with highly relevant, contemporary issues such as waste management, energy use/production/storage, and ecological sustainability in the setting of a fantastical story. Designed for Grades 5-8, the game will be playable in 30-minute segments and will work on Chromebooks and tablet computers. The game will involve 40 educators in a yearlong fellowship where they will become co-designers, steer the project to serve the diverse students they represent, learn about games in education, facilitate playtests in their classrooms, and report their experiences to peers. The resulting game, in English and Spanish, will be utilized by at least 162,000 students by the end of the project and hundreds of thousands more after the project is completed. The project will broaden access through digital distribution and minimal technology requirements, which will create a low-cost opportunity for students to engage in science practices, even in schools where time, equipment, or expertise are not available.

Learning progressions are the steps that students go through when they are learning about a topic. The project will research how learning progressions can provide a framework for educational game design. These progressions will be empirically derived from large audience game play data. The game can thus be designed to create personalized interventions for students to improve learning outcomes. Project research will use an approach called stealth assessment, which analyzes data from students' game behavior without requiring a disruption or intervention in the game activities. This project will use this approach for developing empirically validated understandings of how different students develop their science practices. Based on this research, the game will be revised to improve student learning by providing individualized feedback to each student.

Aligning the Science Teacher Education Pathway: A Networked Improvement Community

This project will study the activities of a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) as a vehicle to bridge gaps across four identified steps along the science teacher training and development pathways within local contexts of 8 participating universities. The overarching goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of universities and school districts to reliably produce teachers of science who are knowledgeable about and can effectively enact the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), although prepared in varied organizational contexts.

Award Number: 
1908900
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

California State University will study the activities of a Networked Improvement Community (NIC) as a vehicle to bridge gaps across four identified steps along the science teacher training and development pathways within local contexts of 8 participating universities (NIC sites). Networked Improvement Community (NIC) will co-create a shared vision and co-defined research agenda between university researchers, science educators and school district practitioners working together to reform teacher education across a variety of local contexts. By studying outcomes of shared supports and teacher tools for use in multiple steps along the science teacher education pathway, researchers will map variation existing in the system and align efforts across the science teacher education pathway. This process will integrate an iterative nature of educational change in local contexts impacting enactment of the NGSS in both university teacher preparation programs and in school district professional training activities and classrooms.

The overarching goal of the project is to strengthen the capacity of universities and school districts to reliably produce teachers of science who are knowledgeable about and can effectively enact the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), although prepared in varied organizational contexts. The project will accomplish this goal 1) leveraging the use of an established Networked Improvement Community, composed of science education faculty from eight university campuses and by 2) improving and studying coherence in the steps along the science teacher education pathway within and across these universities and school districts. The project will use a mixed methods approach to data collection and analysis. Consistent with Improvement Science Theory, research questions will be co-defined by all stakeholders.

Reasoning Language for Teaching Secondary Algebra

This project proposes to study the teaching and learning of algebra in grades 7-9, with a specific focus on the ways in which classroom language explicitly describes properties of and relationships among algebraic objects. The project seeks to investigate the bi-directional relationship between reasoning-rich algebraic discourse and the mathematical meanings students hold for core algebraic concepts such as equations, the equation-solving process, and functions.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1908825
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

Decades of research have demonstrated that stronger mathematics classroom discourse, along with the use and connection of multiple mathematical representations, correlates positively with gains in student learning. This relationship is particularly salient in algebra, where diversifying the representations available to students can provide important supports for the development of conceptual understanding. The Reasoning Language for Teaching Secondary Algebra (ReLaTe-SA) project proposes to study the teaching and learning of algebra in grades 7-9, with a specific focus on the ways in which classroom language explicitly describes properties of and relationships among algebraic objects. The project seeks to investigate the bi-directional relationship between reasoning-rich algebraic discourse and the mathematical meanings students hold for core algebraic concepts such as equations, the equation-solving process, and functions. With a focus on the teacher, ReLaTe-SA will analyze classroom narratives about algebraic concepts and procedures and provide an 80-hour professional development program designed to support teachers in developing stronger explanations of algebraic objects, their properties, and their relationships.

The ReLaTe-SA project will investigate three aspects of teacher discourse practice related to algebra. First, the project will study the discourse and discourse routines that teachers use to explain algebraic objects, their properties, and their relationships. This will be accomplished through the development and deployment of an assessment called the Survey of Algebraic Language and Reasoning to identify teachers' discursive routines and narratives in the context of algebra. The instrument asks teachers to interpret student work and explanations by describing the student's mathematical reasoning and underlying mathematical understandings. Second, the project will support potential growth in teachers' algebraic discourse practices through an 80-hour professional development intervention focused on discourse in algebra. The impact of this intervention will be measured by changes to teachers' response patterns on the Survey of Algebraic Language and Reasoning, analyses of teachers' work within the professional development, and the analysis of classroom observations after the professional development has concluded. Third, the project will seek to understand the ways in which teachers develop lessons that explicitly focus on the development of students' algebraic reasoning and discourse. This goal will be realized through analyses of the tasks, plans, and implementations of mathematics lessons in participating teachers' classrooms. Three cohorts of 12 teachers each will be recruited for the project. Based on the results of this exploratory project, the team intends to follow up with a larger-scale study of the professional development and its impact on the teaching and learning of algebra.

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Getting Unstuck: Designing and Evaluating Teacher Resources to Support Conceptual and Creative Fluency with Programming

The project will create opportunities for teachers to develop programming content knowledge and new understandings of the creative possibilities in computer science education, thereby increasing opportunities for students to develop conceptual and creative fluency with programming.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908110
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The project will create opportunities for teachers to develop programming content knowledge and new understandings of the creative possibilities in computer science education, thereby increasing opportunities for students to develop conceptual and creative fluency with programming. K-12 introductory programming experiences are often highly scaffolded, and it can be challenging for students to transition from constrained exercises to open-ended programming activities encountered later in-and out of-school. Teachers can provide critical support to help students solve problems and develop the cognitive, social, and emotional capacities required for conceptually and creatively complex programming challenges. Teachers - particularly elementary and middle school teachers, especially in rural and Title I schools - often lack the programming content knowledge, skills, and practices needed to support deeper and more meaningful programming experiences for students. Professional development opportunities can cultivate teacher expertise, especially when supported by curricular materials that bridge teachers' professional learning and students' classroom learning. This research responds to these needs, addressing key national priorities for increasing access to high-quality K-12 computer science education for all students through teacher professional development.

The project will involve the design and evaluation of (1) an online learning experience for teachers to develop conceptual and creative fluency through short, daily programming prompts (featuring the Scratch programming environment), and (2) educative curricular materials for the classroom (based on the online experience). The online experience and curricular materials will be developed in collaboration with three 4th through 6th-grade rural or Title I teachers. The project will evaluate teacher learning in the online experience using mixed-methods analyses of pre/post-survey data of teachers' perceived expertise and quantitative analyses of teachers' programs and evolving conceptual knowledge. Three additional 4th through 6th-grade teachers will pilot the curricular materials in their classrooms. The six pilot teachers will maintain field journals about their experiences and will participate in interviews, evaluating use of the resources in practice. An ethnography of one teacher's classroom will be developed to further contribute to understandings of the classroom-level resources in action, including students' experiences and learning. Student learning will be evaluated through student interviews and analyses of student projects. Project outcomes will inform how computer science conceptual knowledge and creative fluency can be developed both for teachers and their students' knowledge and fluency that will be critical for students' future success in work and life.

Building Students' Data Literacy through the Co-design of Curriculum by Mathematics and Art Teachers (Collaborative Research: Matuk)

This project aims to enact and study the co-design of classroom activities by mathematics and visual arts teachers to promote middle school students' data literacy.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908557
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The aim of this project is to enact and study a process in which middle school teachers of mathematics and visual arts co-design and teach activities that combine math and art to teach data science. Many existing efforts to promote data literacy are grounded in mathematical concepts of central tendency and variation, and typically are narrowly focused in single subject domains. Taking an art-based perspective on data science has the potential to promote student relevance, accessibility, engagement, reasoning, and meaning-making with data science. Moreover, visualization technology has advanced to a degree that the relation between the information in data and visual aesthetic can be leveraged easily. To explore the opportunity this offers, research on this project will examine how to equip teachers to develop such interdisciplinary pedagogical approaches to cultivate their students' data literacy. This exploratory project will provide support for 12 teachers during summer workshops and during the school year as these teachers implement their co-designed units in their classrooms. The work addresses the following questions: (1) How do we support effective co-design of data literacy units among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers? (2) How are teachers able to use the unit materials in their classrooms to engage students in data literacy? And (3) How does an art-based approach support students' data literacy? Answers to these questions will build an understanding of how to support interdisciplinary curriculum design collaborations among researchers and teachers. They will also show how art-integrated, maker-oriented activities can support middle school learners' data literacy development; and how to design technologies that are accessible and powerful to teachers and learners in these interdisciplinary environments.

Through summer workshops and year-round design collaborations, the project will iteratively design, test and refine four units for middle school classrooms, including activities, tools, and assessments, to promote students' data literacy. Data will be collected from co-design sessions as well as classroom-enactments, and will include observations, video/audio recordings, student- and teacher-generated artifacts, and pre and post assessments of students' knowledge and self-efficacy. Mixed methods analyses of these data, and syntheses of findings across participants, classroom enactments, and project years, will explore effective ways to support co-design among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers; and the impact of art-integrated activities on students' data literacy. This project will reach 12 teachers and their students across 6 New York city schools. By building capacity and knowledge about how to initiate and sustain teachers' interdisciplinary curriculum collaborations, the project will have broader impact. Refined project materials, including pedagogical approaches, toolkits and adaptable classroom activities, will be disseminated to facilitate classroom adoption by other educators who wish to undertake similar art-integrated data literacy curriculum design collaborations, and will thus ultimately broaden participation in data science among diverse youth within and beyond New York City.

Building Students' Data Literacy through the Co-design of Curriculum by Mathematics and Art Teachers (Collaborative Research: Vacca)

The aim of this project is to enact and study a process in which middle school teachers of mathematics and visual arts co-design and teach activities that combine math and art to teach data science.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908142
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The aim of this project is to enact and study a process in which middle school teachers of mathematics and visual arts co-design and teach activities that combine math and art to teach data science. Many existing efforts to promote data literacy are grounded in mathematical concepts of central tendency and variation, and typically are narrowly focused in single subject domains. Taking an art-based perspective on data science has the potential to promote student relevance, accessibility, engagement, reasoning, and meaning-making with data science. Moreover, visualization technology has advanced to a degree that the relation between the information in data and visual aesthetic can be leveraged easily. To explore the opportunity this offers, research on this project will examine how to equip teachers to develop such interdisciplinary pedagogical approaches to cultivate their students' data literacy. This exploratory project will provide support for 12 teachers during summer workshops and during the school year as these teachers implement their co-designed units in their classrooms. The work addresses the following questions: (1) How do we support effective co-design of data literacy units among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers? (2) How are teachers able to use the unit materials in their classrooms to engage students in data literacy? And (3) How does an art-based approach support students' data literacy? Answers to these questions will build an understanding of how to support interdisciplinary curriculum design collaborations among researchers and teachers. They will also show how art-integrated, maker-oriented activities can support middle school learners' data literacy development; and how to design technologies that are accessible and powerful to teachers and learners in these interdisciplinary environments.

Through summer workshops and year-round design collaborations, the project will iteratively design, test and refine four units for middle school classrooms, including activities, tools, and assessments, to promote students' data literacy. Data will be collected from co-design sessions as well as classroom-enactments, and will include observations, video/audio recordings, student- and teacher-generated artifacts, and pre and post assessments of students' knowledge and self-efficacy. Mixed methods analyses of these data, and syntheses of findings across participants, classroom enactments, and project years, will explore effective ways to support co-design among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers; and the impact of art-integrated activities on students' data literacy. This project will reach 12 teachers and their students across 6 New York city schools. By building capacity and knowledge about how to initiate and sustain teachers' interdisciplinary curriculum collaborations, the project will have broader impact. Refined project materials, including pedagogical approaches, toolkits and adaptable classroom activities, will be disseminated to facilitate classroom adoption by other educators who wish to undertake similar art-integrated data literacy curriculum design collaborations, and will thus ultimately broaden participation in data science among diverse youth within and beyond New York City.

Building Students' Data Literacy through the Co-design of Curriculum by Mathematics and Art Teachers (Collaborative Research: Silander)

The aim of this project is to enact and study a process in which middle school teachers of mathematics and visual arts co-design and teach activities that combine math and art to teach data science.

Award Number: 
1908030
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Full Description: 

The aim of this project is to enact and study a process in which middle school teachers of mathematics and visual arts co-design and teach activities that combine math and art to teach data science. Many existing efforts to promote data literacy are grounded in mathematical concepts of central tendency and variation, and typically are narrowly focused in single subject domains. Taking an art-based perspective on data science has the potential to promote student relevance, accessibility, engagement, reasoning, and meaning-making with data science. Moreover, visualization technology has advanced to a degree that the relation between the information in data and visual aesthetic can be leveraged easily. To explore the opportunity this offers, research on this project will examine how to equip teachers to develop such interdisciplinary pedagogical approaches to cultivate their students' data literacy. This exploratory project will provide support for 12 teachers during summer workshops and during the school year as these teachers implement their co-designed units in their classrooms. The work addresses the following questions: (1) How do we support effective co-design of data literacy units among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers? (2) How are teachers able to use the unit materials in their classrooms to engage students in data literacy? And (3) How does an art-based approach support students' data literacy? Answers to these questions will build an understanding of how to support interdisciplinary curriculum design collaborations among researchers and teachers. They will also show how art-integrated, maker-oriented activities can support middle school learners' data literacy development; and how to design technologies that are accessible and powerful to teachers and learners in these interdisciplinary environments.

Through summer workshops and year-round design collaborations, the project will iteratively design, test and refine four units for middle school classrooms, including activities, tools, and assessments, to promote students' data literacy. Data will be collected from co-design sessions as well as classroom-enactments, and will include observations, video/audio recordings, student- and teacher-generated artifacts, and pre and post assessments of students' knowledge and self-efficacy. Mixed methods analyses of these data, and syntheses of findings across participants, classroom enactments, and project years, will explore effective ways to support co-design among art teachers, mathematics teachers, and researchers; and the impact of art-integrated activities on students' data literacy. This project will reach 12 teachers and their students across 6 New York city schools. By building capacity and knowledge about how to initiate and sustain teachers' interdisciplinary curriculum collaborations, the project will have broader impact. Refined project materials, including pedagogical approaches, toolkits and adaptable classroom activities, will be disseminated to facilitate classroom adoption by other educators who wish to undertake similar art-integrated data literacy curriculum design collaborations, and will thus ultimately broaden participation in data science among diverse youth within and beyond New York City.

Improving Grades 6-8 Students' Mathematics Achievement in Modeling and Problem Solving through Effective Sequencing of Instructional Practices

This project will provide structured and meaningful scaffolds for teachers in examining two research-based teaching strategies hypothesized to positively impact mathematics achievement in the areas of mathematical modeling and problem solving. The project investigates whether the order in which teachers apply these practices within the teaching of mathematics content has an impact on student learning.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907840
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

The Researching Order of Teaching project will provide structured and meaningful scaffolds for teachers in examining two research-based teaching strategies hypothesized to positively impact mathematics achievement in the areas of mathematical modeling and problem solving. The first strategy, Explicit Attention to Concepts (EAC), is a set of practices that draw students' attention specifically to mathematical concepts in ways that extend beyond memorization, procedures, or application of skills. This strategy may include teachers asking students to connect multiple mathematical representations, compare solution strategies, discuss mathematical reasoning underlying procedures, or to identify a main mathematical idea in a lesson and how it fits into the broader mathematical landscape. The second strategy, Student Opportunities to Struggle (SOS), entails providing students with time and space to make sense of graspable content, overcoming confusion points, stimulating personal sense-making, building perseverance, and promoting openness to challenge. This strategy may include teachers assigning problems with multiple solution strategies, asking students to look for patterns and make conjectures, encouraging and promoting discourse around confusing or challenging ideas, and asking students for extended mathematical responses. This project investigates whether the order in which teachers apply these practices within the teaching of mathematics content has an impact on student learning. This study builds on previous work that had identified an interaction between the EAC and SOS instructional strategies, and associated teacher reporting of stronger use of the practices with higher student mathematics achievement.

The project will have four key design features. First, the project will adopt and extend the research-based EAC/SOS conceptual framework, and explicitly responds to the call for further research on the interactions. Second, the project will focus on the mathematical areas of modeling and problem solving, two complex and critical competencies for all students in the middle grades. Third, the project will position teachers as collaborators in the research with needed expertise. Finally, the project will make use of research methods from crossover clinical trials to implementation in classrooms. The project aims to identify the affordances and constraints of the EAC/SOS framework in the design and development of instructional practices, to identify student- and teacher-level factors associated with changes in modeling and problem solving outcomes, to analyze teachers' implementations EAC and SOS in teaching modeling and problem solving and to associate those implementation factors with student achievement changes, and to determine whether the ordering of these two strategies correlates with differences in achievement. The project will collect classroom observation data and make use of existing tools to obtain reliable and valid ratings of the EAC and SOS strategies in action.The design of the study features a randomized 2 x 2 cluster crossover trial with a sample of teachers for 80% power. The project builds on existing state infrastructure and relationships with a wide array of school districts in the context of professional development, and aims to create a formal Teacher-Researcher Alliance for Investigating Learning as a part of the project work.

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