Middle School

Logging Opportunities in Online Programs for Science (LOOPS): Student and Teacher Learning

The project makes use of technology to create timely, valid, and actionable reports to teachers by analyzing assessments and logs of student actions generated in the course of using computer-based curriculum materials. The reports allow teachers to make data-based decisions about alternative teaching strategies. The technology supports student collaborations and the assignment of different learning activities to groups, an essential function needed for universal design for learning (UDL).

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733299
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Fri, 12/31/2010
Project Evaluator: 
David Reider, Education Design Inc.

High Adventure Science

The High Adventure Science project is bringing some of the big unanswered questions in Earth and space science to middle and high school science classrooms. Students will explore the mechanisms of climate change, consider the possibility of life on other planets, and devise solutions to the impending shortage of fresh water. Each curriculum module features interviews with scientists currently working on the same unanswered question.
Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0929774
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/15/2009 to Tue, 08/31/2010

Developing, Researching, and Scaling Up SmartGraphs

SmartGraphs activities run in a web browser; there is no software to download or install. SmartGraphs allows students to interact with on-screen graphs to learn about linear equations, the motion of objects, population dynamics, global warming, or other STEM topics that use scatter plots or line graphs. Teachers and students may also use and share existing activities, which are released under a Creative Commons license (see http://www.concord.org/projects/smartgraphs#curriculum).

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0918522
Funding Period: 
Sat, 08/15/2009 to Tue, 07/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Sigmund Abeles
Full Description: 

SmartGraphs is a project that studies the educational value of digital objects embedded in graphs that “know” about themselves and that provide scaffolding to students to help them learn about graphs and the concepts conveyed in graphs. As planned, digital Smart Graphs can be authored or customized by teachers and accept inputs from students’ responses, sketches, functions, models, and probes. The software analyzes the graphs for the kinds of features that experts recognize and then engages students in conversations that instruct and assess student knowledge.

The project is guided by collaboration between the Concord Consortium and the Pennsylvania State Department of Education Classrooms for the Future program, through which 140,000 laptop computers are deployed to serve 500,000 students. The development of Smart Graphs is based on extensive prior research about students’ use and understanding of graphs (TEEMSS II and Science Universal Design for Learning projects) at the Concord Consortium.

National Forum for Action on the Report of the National Math Panel

The Conference Board for the Mathematical Sciences (CBMS) is collaborating with the U.S. Department of Education to host a forum in Washington, DC designed to launch action for change in mathematics education based on the recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel. This forum will focus specifically on the following four areas: teachers and teacher education, learning processes, instructional material, and standards of evidence—research policies and mechanisms.

Award Number: 
0848681
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/15/2008 to Tue, 08/31/2010

Fossil Finders: Using Fossils to Teach About Evolution, Inquiry and Nature of Science

This project engages children in classrooms across the country in an authentic investigation of Devonian fossils. Goals include supporting children in the use of evidence in constructing explanations of natural phenomena, and motivating culturally and linguistically diverse groups of children to engage in learning science. Deliverables include development and testing of an interactive website where children learn how to identify the fossils they find and add their own data to an emerging database.

Award Number: 
1249157
Funding Period: 
Tue, 01/01/2008 to Mon, 12/31/2012
Project Evaluator: 
Ohio Research and Evaluation Center

Scaffolding Teacher Learning in Support of Student Inquiry

This project is developing, piloting, and implementing online professional development in support of inquiry, focusing on facilitation of student research. The goal is to determine what types of Web-based experiences and resources most effectively support middle school teachers in overcoming the substantial hurdles inherent in enabling students to design and conduct their own scientific experiments. The project creates and tests a series of Web-based professional development experiences for 7th and 8th grade teachers.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0733143
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2007 to Thu, 09/30/2010
Full Description: 

This project is exploring what types of web-based resources and experiences can most effectively support middle school science teachers in overcoming the substantial hurdles inherent in facilitating student research. The investigation focuses on 7th and 8th grade teachers using BirdSleuth inquiry-based science units developed with NSF funding by the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology. The BirdSleuth curriculum is designed to engage students in authentic scientific research – making observations, collecting data, asking their own questions, drawing conclusions through research and observation, and publishing their results. We have seen that implementing genuine, open-ended inquiry projects presents formidable challenges to teachers who are not accustomed to conducting scientific research. However, BirdSleuth piloting also indicates that inquiry experiences provide motivation and excitement to science students of all ability levels, even drawing in those who are not excelling in more traditional forms of learning. Through collaboration with teachers, we are evaluating the efficacy of a new online course and a variety of web-based tools and experiences in support of teachers’ implementation of BirdSleuth investigations. Evaluation of the effectiveness of these tools and experiences will enable us to assemble permanent web-based resources in support of optimal student learning through BirdSleuth. The findings, although specific to BirdSleuth, will provide valuable insights applicable to student inquiry in other fields.

Ecology Disrupted: Using Real Scientific Data about Daily Life to Link Environmental Issues to Ecological Processes in Secondary School Science Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Gano)

This project is refining and testing two case study units on contemporary issues in ecology for urban middle and high school students underserved in their connection to nature. The case studies are based on two Science Bulletins, digital media stories about current science produced by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), which use current scientific data to link ecological principles to real-world environmental issues, and to link issues to human daily life.

Award Number: 
0918583
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Sat, 08/31/2013

Examining Teacher Discourse and Whole-class Interaction: A Social Semiotics Model for Mathematics Lesson Study Groups

The project is an exploratory, qualitative case study of a mathematics Lesson Study group for 12 beginning mathematics teachers working in high-poverty middle schools in Brooklyn. The project's Lesson Study model employs social semiotics to examine the intersection between language and learning in mathematics classrooms. Additionally, on-site Lesson Study groups will also be launched in some participating schools.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
0822223
Funding Period: 
Mon, 09/01/2008 to Wed, 08/31/2011

Ecology Disrupted: Using Real Scientific Data About Daily Life to Link Environmental Issues to Ecological Processes in Secondary School Science Classrooms (Collaborative Research: Wyner)

We developed and tested two ecology case study units for urban high school students underserved in their connection to nature. The case studies, based on digital media stories about current science produced by the American Museum of Natural History, use current scientific data to link ecological principles to daily life and environmental issues. Preliminary testing results show that treatment students made significantly higher gains than the control students on the project's major learning goals.

Award Number: 
0918629
Funding Period: 
Tue, 09/01/2009 to Tue, 08/31/2010
Full Description: 

We have refined and tested wo case study units on contemporary issues in ecology for urban middle and high school students underserved in their connection to nature. The case studies are based on two Science Bulletins, digital media stories about current science produced by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), which use current scientific data to link ecological principles to real-world environmental issues, and to link issues to human daily life. One unit asks the question, ‘How might snowy and icy roads affect Baltimore’s water supply?’ The other asks the question, ’How might being able to drive between Los Angeles and Las Vegas in just four hours put local bighorn sheep at risk?’ The units provide source material and real data for students to investigate these questions, video profiles of scientists that engage students in the science and the research, and the Museum Science Bulletins media for students to analyze and connect the questions to broader ecological principles and issues. We are using these modules to research the question, “Can curricular units that link environmental issues to ecological principles through analysis of real data from published research on the environmental impacts of familiar everyday activities improve student learning of ecological principles, personal and human environmental impacts and the nature of scientific activity?” 

 

Randomized control trials in the classrooms of 40 ninth grade NYC public school teachers are being used to evaluate the efficacy of the modules.  Assessment items from New York State Regents exams were reviewed and new assessment items were developed, field tested, and analyzed for validity and reliability. Students in the experimental and control classrooms were pre- and post-tested using the assessments.  In addition, teachers completed pre-post surveys, and stratified samples of teachers were observed and interviewed. To evaluate the effects of the intervention on student achievement and on instructional practices, descriptive and inferential statistics, including analysis of variance (ANOVA) models are being employed to addressing the core research question about student achievement. ANOVA models are also being used to measure main effects and interactions between the intervention and other variables as they relate to student achievement. Preliminary analysis indicates that treatments students showed signficantly higher gains than control students on learning of three major project learning goals: 1. Understanding of ecological principles in the context of human impact 2. Understanding daily life in the context of human impact 3. Understanding the nature of scientific evidence.

 

Finally, we will apply our evaluation findings from testing the modules to develop a summative module on oyster fishing in the Chesapeake Bay. Also, in order to disseminate the materials online to a national audience, we will develop an online “kit of parts” of module components to enable teachers to create customized modules that target their students' specific instructional needs.

Connecting Science and Literacy Program: Professional Development Resources for Elementary Teachers

This project is developing multi-media professional development resources that will enhance PreK-8 teachers' understanding of how to employ instructional strategies from the field of literacy in developing students' scientific understanding. Four modules are resources on specific uses of science literacy; four are case studies offering examples of best practices, including video components. The 9th module provides an introduction to the theoretical underpinnings and research studies that support linking science and literacy.

Award Number: 
0353368
Funding Period: 
Thu, 07/01/2004 to Wed, 06/30/2010

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