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Do They Really Get it? Building K-8 Student Conceptual Understanding in Math and Science

Course Description:

Feel like you are providing engaging activities in math and science but students are still struggling with the concepts?  Think they “get it,” then give the summative assessment only to find out that many of them don’t? In this course we’ll review research on how students learn, and consider how to best support increased student understanding. We’ll practice, dissect, and refine our skills in supporting students to process, talk, and write about their experiences in order to make sense of them. Specific strategies that will be addressed include small and large group discussions, formative assessment techniques (e.g., probes, exit tickets, etc.), and using writing as a thinking tool.

During the summer course days, participants will experience the power of these strategies as they engage in and reflect on math and science learning activities.  Participants will then choose a math or science unit and intentionally plan opportunities within each learning activity for students to make meaning and provide evidence of understanding. During the fall, teachers will try out the planned unit and strategies in their classrooms, and receive feedback and support at the follow-up sessions.

Readings/resources for the course will include:

• Uncovering Student Ideas in Science:  Science Assessment Probes (Keeley)
• Math Assessment Probes
• DIMS math and science probes (ETS)
• Science and Literacy: A Natural Fit (Worth, et al)
• Science and Writing (Fulwiler)
• Elementary and Middle School Mathematics (Van De Walle)


About the Instructors:

Renee Affolter, is a Program Co-Director for Vermont Science Initiative, teaching courses and mentoring teachers throughout the state since 2003. She has been able to apply her Masters in Science Education from UC Berkeley and her high school and middle school teaching experience to helping teachers improve science instruction in their classrooms. Renee is also responsible for teaching Best Practice in Science Education, Action Research, and Science Assessment courses for VSI.  In addition, Renee works in schools and districts throughout the state providing professional development, science coaching, and curriculum development support.

Karen Reinhardt is currently K-8 math/science coordinator in Chittenden
East Supervisory Union. She has been involved in math/science curriculum
work and professional development for the past 15 years, working in
districts, as a consultant, and on national projects. She is an instructor
for the Vermont Science Initiatives Best Practices course, and  has taught
graduate courses in Science and Writing, Math Problem Solving, and Science