The Art of Teaching Science Introduction and Welcome The Art of Teaching Science

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The Art of Teaching Science

  • Introduction and Welcome

The Art of Teaching Science

  • Welcome to The Art of Teaching Science. I hope you will find the book valuable to you, and help you in your quest as a science educator.
  • The Art of Teaching Science is a science teaching handbook/methods textbook designed for the professional development of middle and high school science teachers.
  • I have written the Art of Teaching Science to provide meaningful learning experiences and connections with the most recent research and understanding of science teaching for this new cadre of science teachers.
  • Jack Hassard

Chapter Slide Shows

  • There are 12 slide shows, one for each chapter. They are designed to be used by students and instructors. For students, the slides give a multimedia overview for each chapter. For the instructor, the slide shows can be used in whole or part to augment course syllabi, and online experiences for students.


  • The Art of Teaching Science is rooted in the philosophy that initial and continuing preparation of science teachers should develop professional artistry.
  • In this view, the learning to teach process involves encounters with peers, professional teachers, and science teacher educators.
  • A number of pedagogical learning tools have been integrated into the Art of Teaching Science.
  • These tools involve:
    • Inquiry and experimentation
    • Reflection through writing and discussions
    • Experiences with students, science curriculum and pedagogy
  • Becoming a science teacher is a creative process. In the view espoused here, you will be encouraged to "invent" and "construct" ideas about science teaching through your interaction with your peers, teachers and your instructors.

The Art of Science Teaching Inquiry and Innovation in Middle School and High School

  • Part
  • Chapters
  • Chapter 1 The Art of Science: A Reconnaissance
  • Chapter 2 Science for All
  • Part 2 The Goals and the Curriculum of School Science
  • Chapter 3 The Goals and History of Science Education
  • Chapter 4 Science in the School Curriculum
  • Part 3 Connecting Theory and Practice in Science Teaching
  • Chapter 5 How Students Learn Science
  • Chapter 6 Models of Science Teaching
  • Chapter 7 Designing Science Units and Courses of Study
  • Chapter 8 Assessing Active Science Learning
  • Part 4 Strategies of Science Teaching
  • Chapter 9 Strategies Fostering Thinking in the Science Classroom
  • Chapter 10 Facilitating Learning in the Science Classroom
  • Chapter 11 Science, Technology, and Society
  • Chapter 12: The Internet: Moving Toward Web-Based Learning Environments

Pedagogical Learning Tools in The Art of Teaching Science

  • Inquiry Activities
  • How to Read This Chapter
  • Invitations to Inquiry
  • Think Pieces
  • Case Studies
  • Science Teachers Talk
  • Research Matters Column
  • Science Teaching Literature
  • Problems and Extensions
  • Reflective Teaching
  • Microteaching
  • International Connections
  • On the Web
  • Readings

Conceptual Organization of Pedagogical Tools

Inquiry Activities

  • Inquiry Activities are designed to engage teachers in a wide variety of science education learning activities focusing of the processes of inquiry, problem solving, and reflection. Inquiry activities have been written using the format of cooperative and collaborative learning. Although inquiry activities are typically explored by teams of peers, they can be used for individual investigation as well.
  • The inquiry activities have been designed with the constructivist learning model as a referent and
    • enable students to use their existing schema or conception in a problem solving situation
    • enable students to design a plan to investigate a problem in a contextual situation
    • can be solved in many ways thereby resulting in multiple solutions
    • engage students in minds on strategies that include reflective and high level cognitive thinking
    • engage students in cooperative learning groups

Inquiry Activity 12.1: Designing Web-Based Science Activities

  • In this inquiry you will become familiar with 8 web-based tools, anyone of which you can use to design a web-based science activity.
  • Read through the tools that are listed in Table 12.1 (you’ll find details on each one on pages 443-447.
  • Identify an STS or science inquiry goal and design a web-based activity using one or more of the Web-based tools.
  • 442-443
  • Sample Inquiry Activity Slide from Chapter Powerpoints

How to Read This Chapter

  • This chapter is a reconnaissance of the profession of science teaching, and also a place to begin the learning-to-teach process. There are some activities that are designed to help you explore some of your prior conceptions about science teaching (Inquiry Activity 1.1), and other activities designed to have you investigate the ideas that experienced teachers hold about teaching, and students about science. All of these are here to help you build upon your prior knowledge and to help you in the construction of your ideas about teaching. You might get the most out of this chapter by skimming the main sections, and then coming back to deliberately move though the chapter.
  • 4
  • Designed to give the reader an overview of the chapter

Invitations to Inquiry

  • How important is it to the secondary science teacher to know about learning theory?
  • What is constructivism, and why has it emerged as one of the most significant explanations of student learning?
  • How do cognitive psychologists explain student learning?
  • How do social psychologist explain student learning?
  • How do behavioral theories explain student learning in science?
  • What was the contribution of theorists like Skinner, Bruner, Piaget, Vygotsky, and von Glasersfeld to secondary science teaching?
  • What is meant by multiple intelligences and how does it impact student learning?
  • How do learning styles of students influence learning in the classroom?
  • What is metacognition, and how can metacognition help students learn science?
  • Questions to organize inquiry for the chapter
  • 168

Chapter 5 Map

  • Concept map for each chapter

Think Piece

  • A Think Piece is a question that is answered by means of a short essay (generally no more than two pages) or a poster (no more than one large poster board) that reflects a teacher's view on some topic or subject in science education Each volume of the Science Teaching Gazette contains several think piece topics. Think pieces can be assigned individually or can be used to stimulate problem solving in cooperative groups.

Think Piece

  • Write an essay on the topic “artistry of teaching.” Make use of your experiences as a student and teacher.
  • 29
  • A tool to focus on reflective thinking

Case Studies

  • Case studies are problem solving dilemmas based on actual and fictional events about science teaching. Case studies have been become a popular feature in the education of professionals in business, and medicine, and recently have become an innovation in the professional preparation of teachers. The case studies that are included in The Art of Teaching Science consist of a brief presentation of the case, followed by a problem or dilemma statement. Cases can be explored in a variety of ways: role playing, cooperative team problem solving, written responses followed by group discussions, and debates. Case enactments can also be video taped for replay and analysis. After some contextual work in schools, and experience with a few cases, teachers can suggest their own case study topics, create the scenarios and problems, and engage the class in their creations. Each chapter begins with a Case Study.

Case Study: A New Approach to Learning

  • The Case
  • Ruth Wilson, a second year high school biology teacher in a community that has only one high school, took a graduate course in the summer at the local university. In the course, she became extremely interested in a theory of learning, called "constructivism” proposed by several theorists. Constructivism, as she understood it, provided a framework to understand how students acquired knowledge. One of the basic notions underlying the theory was that students “constructed and made meaning” of their experiences. The theory provides more freedom for the students in terms of their own thinking processes. Ms. Wilson feels strongly that this “constructivist” framework supported her teaching philosophy better than the more structured approach she was using during her first year of teaching. Prior to the opening of school, Ms. Wilson changed her curriculum plans to reflect the constructivist theory. She spent the first two weeks of school helping the students become skilled and familiar with hands-on learning. For many of her students, this was a new venture. She planned activities where students had to make choices among objectives, or activities, or content. Knowing that students like to work together, she decided to place students in small teams. At the end of the two weeks, she instructed the teams to decide and select the activities and content in the first part of the text that would interest them. They should formulate a plan, and carry it out for the remainder of the grading period. A few weeks later, a rather irate parent called Mr.. Brady, the principal of the school, complaining that her son is wasting his time in Ms. Wilson's class. The parent complained that her son was not learning anything, and she demanded a conference with Ms. Wilson.
  • The Problem
  • How would you deal with this situation? What would you say to the parent? Is Ms. Wilson on sound footing regarding her theory of teaching? How do explain your teaching theory to your principal? What is your personal view on this approach to teaching and learning?
  • Each chapter contains 1-3 cases
  • 167

Reflective Teaching

  • The Art of Teaching Science provides teaching strategies that facilitate the development of reflective science teaching. Reflective science teaching is a concept that is open to a great deal of interpretation. On the one hand is the idea that reflective teachers possess the ability to collaborate with others, while on the other hand the ability to "reflect on" and think about one's teaching. Please refer to Inquiry Activity 6.1 Reflective Teaching for details on how to implement the approach. You will also find four Reflective Teaching lesson plans in Volume 6 of the Science Teaching Gazette which are to be used with Inquiry Activity 6.1:
    • Lesson 1: Creatures
    • Lesson 2: Shark's Teeth
    • Lesson 3: The Balloon Blower Upper
    • Lesson 4: Mission to Mars
  • One of the powerful aspects of Reflective Teaching is that it "teaches" teachers a metacognitve tool for thinking about their teaching, and once they understand the process, teachers can apply the approach in any teaching situation.

Inquiry 6.1: Reflective Teaching

  • In this inquiry you’ll teach a science lesson to a small group using any of the models in the chapter using a three stage experience:
    • Prepare
    • Teach
    • Reflect
  • You’ll use the experience to find out how successful you were. You will find a collection of lessons in the Gazette, pp. 248-250 which you can use. If you don’t use these, use the format shown, and create your own lesson.
  • Details of the Reflective Teaching experience are outlined in Inquiry 6.1.
  • 213-214
  • A tool to teach a method of reflection


  • Microteaching is a laboratory approach to teaching developed some years ago, and used quite effectively first by the Peace Corps, and then by colleges of education in initial and continuing teacher education programs. Although microteaching is used initially in Inquiry 1.2, it is formally introduced and developed in Chapter 9, and used in the context of helping teachers develop a model for practicing and receiving feedback about teaching strategies. Since microteaching is scaled down teaching, it works very well in small cooperative groups of peers, as well as with students in a school context. You will find the approach to microteaching detailed in Inquiry Activity 9.1. Students can prepare brief lessons, teach them to a small group of peers or students, meet with a peer coach, and then reteach the lesson based on suggestions made in the peer coaching conference.

Inquiry 9.1: Microteaching

  • Microteaching is scaled down teaching. You will use it to explore the interactive teaching strategies that are presented, pp. 333-339.
  • Prepare a 5 minute lesson and use it to focus on one or more of the teaching strategies (advance organizers, questioning, using examples, etc.).
  • Teach the lesson to a small group of peers; use the video tape to reflect and make changes in the lesson for a re-teach episode.
  • How successful were you?
  • 339-340
  • A laboratory approach for learning teaching skills

Science Teachers Talk

  • Interviews with several practicing middle school and high school science teachers from several countries were conducted to create the Science Teachers Talk column in most of the volumes of the Science Teaching Gazette. The teachers were asked to respond to a questionnaire on science teaching. The questions corresponded to the major unifying themes of the text, and these were used to create the dialogs. The Science Teachers Talk feature can be used as a stimulus for discussion, and problem solving. Teachers can be asked to respond to the interview questions before reading the teachers' responses, and afterwards, compare their approaches and opinions. These craft-talk columns in the Science Teaching Gazette are rich with the wisdom-of-practice that is an integral part of the knowledge of science teaching.

Science Teachers Talk

  • How do you use technology (including the Internet) in your science lessons? Why do you, and what do you see as the benefits for your students?
  • Find out what the following teachers say about these questions. How does it compare with your thinking:
    • Rachel Zgonc (a first year teacher)
    • Ben Boza (Botzwana)
    • Carol Myronuk (Canada)
    • Barry Plant (Australia)
    • Tom Brown
    • Michael O’Brien (a first year teacher)
  • 459-461
  • A web-based activity in action
  • Craft-like talks with practicing teachers

Research Matters

  • There is a growing emphasis on the importance of involving practicing science teachers not only in being able to consume science education research, but being able to conduct research on teaching, as well. Many volumes of the Science Teaching Gazette include a column on research entitled Research Matters which focuses on a topic pertinent to the theme of the chapter. The columns, written by members of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST), appear from time-to-time in the NARST News, the newsletter of NARST.

Science Education Literature

  • Some of the volumes of the Science Teaching Gazette includes excerpts from the literature of science teaching. The literature pieces have been included to enrich the investigation of science teaching, to extend the context of learning to include the work of the science and science education community, and to introduce teachers to journals and books in the field.

Science is Not Words*

  • Read Dr. George Feynman’s article (pp. 30-32), “Science is not words.”
  • How does Feynman’s view of science stack up with your views? Is this a practical view that might be applied to teaching?
  • Follow-up with a visit to a Feynman Site:
  • 30
  • An example of literature

On the Web

  • A collection of websites that relate to the chapter. They are located in the Gazette, and they are also linked in this website for easy access to these resources


  • A collection of readings, for each chapter, including books and journal articles. The readings are designed to help you go further in your exploration of science teaching.

Problems and Extension

  • Prepare a Web-based lesson using one of the following Web-based tools: key pals, online discussions, chat, tele-mentoring, pooled data analysis, tale-field trip or social action project. Include the goals for the lesson, and how students would be active learners in the lesson.
  • Discuss the implications of using the Web to make your teaching environment a “global classroom.” What do you think will be the outcomes and benefits for your students, and colleagues?
  • Locate a science museum on the Web, and design a tele-field trip using the museum as the basis for your project.
  • Design a pooled data analysis project for a group of middle or high school students in any content area of science. Visit some of the examples of pooled data analysis projects identified in the chapter. After studying these projects, outline a new project by working with a group of peers. Share the project by putting it on the Web, and presenting it to a group of peers.
  • 462
  • Open-ended problems in each chapter

International Connections

  • I asked colleagues from other countries to write brief descriptions describing the curriculum and teaching issues in Australia, Chile, China, Ghana, Japan and Russia. As science educators, we are members of a community of practice that is worldwide. What the issues in other countries, and how do these help inform us about our own issues? The authors of these international pieces have based their writing on personal experiences with the culture. In most cases the authors were born, educated and taught in the country they described.
  • Teachers from several countries participated in the Science Teacher Talk sessions

Science in…

  • Australia
  • Chile
  • China
  • Ghana
  • Japan
  • Russia
  • 140-155
  • Interesting discusions about science teaching in these countries.

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