Understanding Teacher Change and Teachers as Learners in K-12 Classrooms
An important aspect of science literacy is the ability to represent challenging concepts using drawings, pictures, graphs, or other representational forms. However, students find these representations challenging, and often interpret them rather superficially. At the same time, teachers don’t always recognize which representations will be the most productive for their current lessons. Furthermore, teachers may not know how to engage students in productive classroom conversations that make use of, critique, or refine representations. In short, there are two key inter-related dimensions to teachers’ knowledge of representations in science: 1) an understanding of representations and their value in learning concepts, and 2) the ability to support productive use of representations within classroom conversations, and facilitate discussions which help students see representations as part of their scientific practices.
To help address these inter-related dimensions of teacher knowledge, our project aims to work with practicing teachers to identify their existing practices and challenges they face in incorporating representations in their science classrooms. We will work with teachers to iteratively explore new ideas from the cognitive and learning sciences, introduce those ideas in their own classrooms, document their teaching practices, reflect upon their practices and those of their peers, and develop new practices. As we work collaboratively with teachers, we will document the processes through which teachers engage with new ideas about representations to better understand their cognition around how to work with representations, and how to engage with students in productive classroom interactions that leverage representations within science inquiry.