Middle School

Identifying and Evaluating Adaptive Expertise in Teachers

This project examines the nature of adaptive expertise in mathematics education, exploring relationships between this concept from cognitive psychology and effective middle school mathematics instruction. One goal of the project is to operationalize adaptive expertise in mathematics classroom using three dimensions: cognitive models of professional competence, instructional practices, and professional learning. Then, researchers seek to determine whether teachers who are more effective at raising student achievement are more or less adaptive.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0732074
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2007 to Tue, 08/31/2010

SAVE Science: Situated Assessment Using Virtual Environments for Science Content and Inquiry

The SAVE Science project is creating an innovative system using immersive virtual environments for evaluating learning in science, consistent with research- and policy-based recommendations for science learning focused around the big ideas of science content and inquiry for middle school years. Motivation for this comes not only from best practices as outlined in the National Science Education Standards and AAAS' Project 2061, but also from the declining interest and confidence of today's student in science.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1157534
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Sat, 08/31/2013
Project Evaluator: 
Anthony Lutkus

Temple University Science Math Assessment Research for Teachers (TU-SMART)

This project studies the impact of emphasizing formative assessment strategies in concurrent undergraduate methods courses and STEM content courses on the subsequent teaching practices of these pre-service teachers and their students. The study focuses on future middle school STEM teachers. The mixed methods research design will examine the impact of the treatment on teachers' practices during their practicum and induction years and on the STEM achievement of their middle school students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0455786
Funding Period: 
Mon, 08/01/2005 to Sat, 07/31/2010

Accessing Science Ideas: Enhancing Curriculum to Support Scientific Reasoning of Students with Learning Disabilities

The Accessing Science Ideas (ASI) project is developing and researching content enhancements that support science learning of middle school students with executive function and related learning disabilities.  The goal of ASI research is to measure the extent to which curricular units with content enhancements lead to increased student understanding of science concepts, improved reasoning, and greater confidence.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822039
Funding Period: 
Fri, 08/15/2008 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Full Description: 

The Accessing Science Ideas (ASI) project is developing and researching content enhancements that support science learning of middle school students with executive function and related learning disabilities. These content enhancements are being designed for and integrated into two Full Option Science System (FOSS) curriculum units, Diversity of Life and Populations and Ecosystems. The goal of ASI research is to measure the extent to which curricular units with content enhancements lead to increased student understanding of science concepts, improved reasoning, and greater confidence for all students in an inclusive science classroom.  However, we anticipate that the students with executive function challenges who find it particularly difficult to organize and remember information, shift between concrete phenomena and abstract concepts and see relationships among ideas will benefit most.

Content enhancements are instructional strategies and materials that do not change content but rather ‘enhance’ it by making it accessible to all learners. They make ideas more explicit, prompt elaboration, involve students in transforming the information, and make concepts, ideas, and their relationships more concrete.  In this project, we design, pilot, and revise our content enhancements for each unit prior to the field test. 

The study employs an experimental design with randomization at the teacher level.  Teachers in the intervention are provided with training and then use content enhancements while those in the control group teach the FOSS unit as they typically would.  The control group receives training and the content enhancements at the conclusion of the research phase.

The Inquiry Project

This project is developing a learning progression in scientific inquiry about the nature of matter. The effort will result in a research-guided system of curriculum, assessment and professional development focusing on the transition from a macroscopic to a microscopic understanding of matter that occurs in upper elementary and middle school. The project has a close collaboration with scientists and urban schools.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0628245
Funding Period: 
Sun, 10/01/2006 to Thu, 03/31/2011
Project Evaluator: 
John Zuman
Full Description: 

The Inquiry Project is a partnership between teachers, TERC and Tufts University. The project builds an understanding of science in grades 3–5 that lays a foundation for students’ later understanding of matter in terms of molecules and atoms. The Inquiry Project focuses on material, weight, volume, density and related ideas that we know are important and challenging for today’s students. Unique characteristics of this work are the integration of mathematics and science content, and the focus on inquiry through investigation.

The Inquiry Project brings research, curriculum, assessment, and professional development together in one coherent system with each components vital to preparing learners for this challenging learning progression.

 

The Inquiry Project is Asking:

  • What do young children think about matter, material kinds, and their properties?
  • What understandings at the macroscopic level are pivotal for helping children to move towards a microscopic understanding of matter?
  • What kinds of mathematical knowledge and representations are important to their understanding of matter?
  • What kinds of metaconceptual knowledge are needed to support inquiry and theory building about matter?

What understanding do students develop and why is this important?

Inquiry is central to science learning. As described in the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996), a classroom having the essential features of inquiry is one in which learners:

  • engage in scientifically oriented questions
  • give priority to evidence in responding to questions
  • formulate explanations from evidence
  • connect explanations to established scientific knowledge
  • justify and communicate explanations.

The Inquiry Project curriculum is designed with these features in mind, and with three content-specific dimensions of inquiry: measurement of matter, change and conservation, and scale.

Measurement of matter

Students with balance

Many middle school students can calculate density as the ratio of mass to volume, but lack a deeper intuitive sense that density is related to number of particles within a specific volume and the mass of those particles. In The Inquiry Project, students learn to measure weight and volume using a variety of methods and use their measurements as evidence to support explanations. They begin to understand that all matter (in solid, liquid, or gaseous form) has weight and volume. With a firm grasp of the measurement of weight and volume, students are able to build mental models of matter and density that will help them understand the particulate nature of matter later on.

Conservation and Transformation

The Inquiry Project helps students deepen their understanding of matter and materials through investigations of what changes and what stays the same when matter changes state, is reshaped, divided, heated, and mixed. In these investigations students need to isolate variables that are important to their investigations and control their experimentation to measure these variables. They use their measurements and their emerging models of matter to understand that some quantities, such as the total mass of a system, do not change.

Scale

Students build an intuitive sense of scale of space (volume), weight, and density that will later assist them in developing a particulate model of matter. Moving from macroscopic to microscopic thinking requires the ability to construct mental models about things and processes we cannot observe. Students who gain a strong understanding of quantities of volume, weight, and density through observation, measurement, and modeling are poised to understand quantities and phenomena at a scale that they cannot observe.

Foundations of Algebra in the Elementary and Middle Grades: Supporting Students to Make, Represent and Justify General Claims about Operations

This project develops images, extended examples, and principles that illustrate how the articulation, representation and justification of general claims about operations evolve in the elementary grades and how this work supports the transition from arithmetic to algebra in the middle grades. An online course uses the Sourcebook as a text to engage teachers in considering the underlying pedagogical and mathematical aspects of the work and implementing these ideas in their instruction.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0550176
Funding Period: 
Sat, 07/01/2006 to Thu, 06/30/2011
Project Evaluator: 
Megan Franke

Interactive Ink Inscriptions in K-12 (INK-12) (Collaborative Research: Koile)

This exploratory project seeks to understand the role that a network of tablet computers may play in elementary and middle school math and science classrooms. The study will use classroom observations, student interviews, teacher interviews and student artifacts to identify the advantages and disadvantages of these resources, understand what challenges and benefits they offer to teachers, and offer recommendations for future hardware, software, and curriculum development.

Award Number: 
0822278
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
David Reider, Education Design Inc.
Full Description: 

Mathematicians Writing for Teachers Conference

The goal of this conference was to bring together classroom teachers, mathematics educators, mathematicians, and community college faculty to consider critical questions about content and pedagogy in the mathematics education of K-8 teachers. These discussions were grounded by co-teaching actual professional development sessions, through observing each other teaching, and through debriefing teaching sessions based on observations and videotape. The participants developed an emerging set of principles and approaches to professional development for K-8 teachers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0736305
Funding Period: 
Sat, 12/15/2007 to Sun, 05/31/2009

Engaging Middle School Students in Student-directed Inquiry through Virtual Environments for Learning

This project is developing five web-based modules for middle school science that engage students in student-directed inquiry and provide teachers with professional development in facilitating this inquiry. These modules immerse students in virtual environments for learning (VELs) where they take on the role of scientists engaged in a complex task. The virtual settings presented in the VELs support students in designing and carrying out their own investigations.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0628264
Funding Period: 
Fri, 09/01/2006 to Tue, 08/31/2010

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