This project seeks to better understand how teachers' capacity and willingness to customize instructional approaches to meet standards and the needs of diverse student populations develops through initial practice and successive enactments of curriculum materials. This work will address current gaps in the literature and contribute to an overall understanding of how teachers develop the capacity to use curricula in ways that advance the goal of equitable science instruction.
Culturally Responsive Elementary Science Teaching
Curriculum materials are not a script for teachers to follow, but a tool over which they exert agency as they make decisions about how to adapt the materials for use in their specific context with their particular students. Indeed, adaptation is necessary in order to ensure that teachers can provide equitable learning experiences for all students, particularly those from marginalized groups. Teachers' adaptations make a significant impact on both instruction and on students, and can have a considerable effect on curriculum-driven and equity-focused education reform interventions. While researchers have begun to identify patterns in teachers' curriculum adaptations, little is known about which kinds of adaptations support student learning or how teachers' capacity to adapt materials develops over time. Most current studies provide only a snapshot of teachers' curriculum implementation--often their first use of the materials--as opposed to successive curricular enactments. Because research indicates teachers need at least two iterations with curriculum materials in order to use them purposefully and skillfully, further research is needed to understand how teachers' adaptations change with experience using curriculum materials. This project will contribute valuable knowledge about how teachers' capacity to adapt curriculum materials develops over time, and has implications for the development of curriculum, professional development, and teacher education efforts to promote culturally-responsive instruction.
This Level II Exploratory Project in the Teaching Strand of the DRK-12 program seeks to better understand how teachers' capacity and willingness to customize instructional approaches to meet standards and the needs of diverse student populations develops through initial practice and successive enactments of curriculum materials. This work will address current gaps in the literature and contribute to an overall understanding of how teachers develop the capacity to use curricula in ways that advance the goal of equitable science instruction. The overarching goals of the project include: 1) implementing a high-quality practicum-based professional development model for K-6 teachers; 2) conducting a comprehensive and rigorous program of research to examine associations between teachers' learned adaptations of curriculum over successive enactments of materials and pedagogical design capacity for culturally responsive instruction; and 3) disseminating project outcomes to a variety of stakeholders to produce broader impacts. Over three years, this project will work with a cohort of 30 elementary teachers, 30 preservice teachers, and approximately 1700 students. Professional development will be provided to introduce teachers to the Explore the Salish Sea (ESS) curriculum, which utilizes marine phenomena in the local environment to help students meet the Next Generation Science Standards. By examining four successive enactments of curriculum materials, the project will provide insight into the process by which teachers develop curricular context knowledge (CCK), but also how the curriculum functions to engage students with science ideas and practices in particular contexts, which has implications for how teachers connect their CCK to culturally responsive instruction (CRI). Through collective case study methods, the researchers will document and examine the ways in which elementary teachers develop the capacity to adapt curriculum materials to be culturally responsive to their students, and the role that developing CCK plays in this process. This work will help develop a more robust understanding of what it means to be 'culturally responsive' in elementary science, and to advance practice by developing context-rich representations of culturally responsive curriculum adaptation to share with stakeholders with similar contexts and goals.