Understanding Science: Improving the Science Achievement and Literacy Skills Through Proven Professional Development and Collaboration.

January 20, 2011  • Education Innovation Forum and Expo

Understanding Science is transformative professional development. It brings teachers face to face with their own misconceptions, challenges them to make sense of the science for themselves, and grapple with instructional choices. Understanding Science supports teachers as they:

  • Learn major concepts of K-8 science
  • Examine how children make sense of those concepts
  • Analyze and improve their teaching practice
  • Support student reading, writing, and discussion in science

This innovation offers schools the unique and much needed access to professional development designed and implemented as a coordinated system, to support high standards and quality assessments, as called for by the National Research Council’s seminal report, “”Taking Science to Schools”” (Duschl, Schweingruber, & Shouse, 2007). A series of national studies show a link between Understanding Science and improved student achievement — especially for English language learners and students with poor literacy skills.

Technology is a critical component of the model. An online forum supports professional learning communities allowing teachers to share and analyze student work. This builds on the face-to-face professional development and helps teachers connect their learning to the classroom and their students.vThe model builds local infrastructure and expertise to support regional, rural, and district-wide implementation. It allows for a lean infrastructure with a broad reach from administration to classroom teachers and students. As regional networks mature, they extend their services to rural partners, resulting in horizontal scale-up and sustainability.

To learn more, contact Kirsten Daehler.