Syllabus Ideas for a Teacher Education Course

Discussion about using materials from this site in a course for pre- and in-service teachers.

The purpose of this section is to provide some activities that can be used by teacher educators in a course unit on developing models in the science classroom. It contains suggestions for using this site as a resource for a graduate course. It includes ideas arising from experience in teaching aspects of this material in courses for pre- and in-service teachers. A teacher might also wish to utilize it as a set of self-teaching experiences.

This section is best read after the following pages: Landing Page, Core of this Approach, and Educator's Tour, and after examining the structure of the Strategy Catalog.

Note for Teacher Educators

Overall Plan

We suggest that students learn Whole Class Discussion practices in the following order:

Part I

   A.  Learn to lead Idea Eliciting Discussions using Participation Strategies

Participation Strategies are very general strategies for eliciting students' ideas about observations, models, or anything else. They are important skills for leading any discussion.

Part 2

   B.  Learn to select a Target Model or "Big Idea" for a Set of Lessons

   C.  Learn to select a Pattern to be Explained

Find an engaging demonstration, lab, problem, or story of event that allows students to perceive an Observation Pattern. Some will need practice in distinguishing empirical observation patterns from theoretical models used to explain them.


Select a previously-learned model for modeling at a deeper level, as another kind of pattern to be explained. (E.g., "We already know that the digestive system produces glucose that is used by all the cells in the body. But how does glucose get from the intestine into the bloodstream?")

   D. Learn about Generating Initial Models via Model Eliciting Discussions

   E.  Learn about leading Guided Model Construction Discussions

(Scaffolding the evolution of student models toward the target model.) This is a more sophisticated skill than just eliciting ideas, and many strategies can be involved.

Part 3

   F.  Learn about other modes of discussion such as Model Competition, Consolidation, or Application

Step A can be learned first, then B and C. It will usually take some time to become proficient with these. Step A is dealt with in Part 1 while Steps B through E are in Part 2. All the preceding steps are prerequisites to learning Step E, the most sophisticated practice.

Additional steps are dealt with in Part 3.


NEXT ->   Part 1: Participation Strategies