Paper No. 33-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-5:30 PM
INNOVATION, COLLABORATION, AND THE ART OF TEACHING
Teaching may seem straightforward at face value, however, in practice, the story changes drastically. Teacher preparation generally includes theory and content, but classroom experience usually comes in the form of student teaching at the end of the four-year major. For the past two summers, Fresno State’s Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences has partnered with the Math and Science Teacher Initiative (MSTI) in Fresno State’s Kremen School of Education, and After School University (ASU) to create a unique summer program for future K-8 teachers. The experience included a one-week pedagogy-intensive workshop with a culminating field trip. Pedagogy was taught in the form of active learning with participants engaging in the activities rather than just being shown activities. Content was centered on Earth, and four major spheres (geosphere, atmosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere) and their interactions. Each lesson was intended to build upon the previous lesson, allowing for scaffolding throughout the week. In addition, Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were employed and explained throughout the workshop. The field trip was to Yosemite National Park where many of the lessons from the classroom were seen on a real-world scale. In the subsequent weeks, participants developed lesson plans and delivered the material to 5th grade ASU students. Each lesson was given twice with a break between for feedback. This opportunity gave the future teachers lesson planning and classroom experience. In the end, the participants gained perspective on teaching children, delivering lesson plans, and classroom management. The students received lesson plan ideas as well as pedagogy in teaching Earth Sciences. Pre- and post-tests were given with the average grade increasing from 23% to 73% on free response questions. Participant response was overwhelmingly positive and, when asked if they would take the course again, it was a unanimous vote of yes. Given the positive feedback and score increases, it seems that this type of workshop is more valuable than the standard lecture-based course, and the experience with the children is invaluable. Of the 22 participants, all partook in the activities with contagious enthusiasm. This type of experience is instrumental in instilling confidence and excitement into teaching science.