GSA Connects 2021 in Portland, Oregon

Paper No. 3-1
Presentation Time: 8:05 AM


CHEEK, Kim, Teaching, Learning, and Curriculum, University of North Florida, 1 UNF Drive, Jacksonville, FL 32224

Project-based learning (PBL) is one way to help elementary teachers effectively implement NGSS-ESS. PBL encourages sense-making, is collaborative, question- and solution-driven, and emphasizes usable, relevant knowledge. It mirrors the work of STEM professionals, including geoscientists. Widespread use of NGSS-aligned PBL can positively impact elementary ESS instruction; however, its implementation can be challenging. Three-dimensional instruction is neither easy nor intuitive as it represents a departure from common teacher practice and their own learning experiences. Developing facility with the components of PBL requires time and significant effort (Miller & Krajcik, 2019). Teacher concerns with maintaining student engagement, lack of time and material resources, and a school culture that prioritizes coverage over deeper learning (Hasni et al., 2016) all impact whether teachers exposed to PBL professional learning will persevere in its implementation. Teacher conceptualization of the components of PBL, such as driving questions and creating a coherent storyline, as well as their connected science knowledge and concerns about assessing student learning can also affect teacher persistence with PBL science instruction. Positive exemplars exist, but it is difficult to achieve scale, especially in high-needs districts.

Professional learning offerings that address these challenges can increase the likelihood of sustainable change in teacher practice. This session describes in-progress PBL professional learning for elementary teachers, many of whom work in high-needs schools. Some of the professional learning described took place remotely during Covid-19 while some is currently being delivered in-person. Examples of PBL components that elementary teachers find challenging and the types of questions and concerns they express will be shared. Promising strategies for addressing issues that impact teacher perseverance with PBL in NGSS-ESS are discussed, along with challenges that remain.