Teaching and Learning Activities

The Teaching and Learning activities are designed to help students make explicit connections between their own learning, the teaching and learning of children, and the three NGSS strands—all intended to promote growth in the prospective teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge necessary for successful teaching. 

The set of activities is organized into clusters of coherent in-class and out-of-class activities aligned with each of the five content modules.

Each content cluster includes video analysis of teachers engaging children in instruction aligned with the NGSS and related to the corresponding content module, focused exploration of one practice and one crosscutting concept, and an extended out-of-class activity to interview children about their ideas regarding the content area or lead them through a small learning activity. See the Table of Contents for a list of all the teaching and learning activities (grouped together in the teaching and learning module). 

Many of the classroom videos come from the Engineering is Elementary curriculum, introducing students to this excellent set of curricula modules developed at the Boston Museum of Science and engaging them in analyzing both the children’s ideas and the teacher’s strategies.

The extended out-of-class activities are scaffolded so that the students’ experiences become more complex over the curriculum. The first extended teaching and learning activity in the Developing Models of Magnetism and Static Electricity module is a guided interview. The future teachers elicit children’s ideas about magnetism through provided interview questions. Later in the curriculum, the activity associated with the Interactions and Forces module guides future teachers through leading a small investigation related to forces, providing them with experience facilitating NGSS-aligned instruction.  

Below are some examples of the teaching and learning activities from two of the curriculum modules.

Teaching and Learning Activities in Developing a Model of Magnetism

TL Activity 1 is an in-class activity where students share their initial ideas about how children should learn science, consider their own experiences learning science and connections to the NGSS, and read about how three hypothetical elementary teachers describe what they did to help their students learn about magnetism.  Finally, the students analyze the teachers’ descriptions with respect to specific NGSS scientific practices and decide which teacher’s description best reflects the NGSS goals. [This version includes two clicker questions, and so it is appropriate for large, lecture style classes.  There is also a small class version of this where the only difference is that the clicker questions are replaced with discussion questions.]

TL Extension D is a homework activity where students begin preparing to interview elementary aged children about their ideas about magnetism with the goal of describing the children’s initial magnetism models.  Although students carry out interviews individually, they collaborate with other members of their group and turn in a group report summarizing their findings.  There is also a follow-up in class activity (TL Act2) where students reflect on their interviews and discuss children’s models of magnetism.

Teaching and Learning Activities in Forces and Interactions

TL Extension H is a homework activity where students view a video from the Engineering is Elementary unit called “A Long Way Down: Designing Parachutes.” As they watch the video, students make notes about what kinds of activities the children are doing and what the teacher is doing to facilitate the students’ investigations.  Their notations are informed by having read the NGSS Practice Expectations for planning and carrying out investigations.

TL Activity 5 is a short in-class activity where students discuss the NGSS practice of planning and carrying out investigations and the video clips they had viewed in TL Extension H (see above).  There are follow-up extensions where students work with elementary children as they carry out an investigation involving dropping parachutes (TL Extension I), a reading on children’s ideas about force and motion (TL Extension J) and an in-class activity where students discuss how elementary teachers can facilitate investigations in the spirit of the NGSS (TL Activity 6).