Perfect World Science
Posted Thursday, March 3, 2016
What happens when you invite the science specialists from Kindergarten through high school to come together to talk about science instruction in Loveland? Well, you get some super nerdy jokes - and a ton of positive energy!
As part of the instructional cycle in Loveland, K-12 science teachers participated in a series of work sessions to review our science instruction and resources in the district. Teachers from all grade levels rarely have the opportunity to meet and learn together so it was hard to know exactly what might happen. The team was given the opportunity to talk about what science instruction would look like if there were no limits. What would Loveland science look like in a perfect world? Through this exercise the team was able to develop key ideas that became the constant threads from Kindergarten through high school. What happened was inspiring. Loveland teachers developed their vision for science instruction that not only informed their choices for resources, but now serves as the foundation for their work and professional growth over the next four years.
Science instruction should be active and inquiry-driven. We should plan our learning to be student-centered and differentiated to meet students where they are in their current understandings. Students should be asked to read and write about science. They should be expected to collaborate with others. Technology should be used to help students understand challenging concepts or increase access to other scientists. Student assessment should be performance-based and should include teacher observations. Assessment of student understanding should be used to inform the teacher’s planning. Our resources should help us make connections to our community. Our school culture should include ongoing teacher development in science. We should increase student access to STEM lessons. We should encourage curiosity.
The newly-developed instructional cycle empowers teachers to focus on how to engage students in their understanding and application of the content standards. Our teachers have identified several “non-negotiables” that will guide their work. Science teachers will collaborate with their grade level colleagues to develop instructional units, common assessments, and a pacing calendar to ensure that all students receive the same high expectations for achievement regardless of which teacher they are fortunate enough to encounter. They will set aside time annually to ensure a vertical progression through our school system that provides a variety of experiences. Teachers will then use their individual creativity to deliver lessons that are inquiry-based and differentiated to the interests and understanding of their students. Lessons will be developed to use technology when appropriate and provide opportunities for students to “do” science as well as read and write about science.
The Loveland science planning team has selected the resources that they feel are best-suited to meet their needs in the classroom. More importantly, however, our teachers are focused on their own professional growth around providing “Perfect World Science” to our Tigers. So, how do you organize for the best science instruction? You “planet.”
In service to our Tigers,
Dr. Amy Crouse
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning