1. Katherine McNeill
  2. http://www.katherinelmcneill.com
  3. Associate Professor of Science Education
  4. Instructional Leadership for Science Practices
  5. http://sciencepracticesleadership.com/
  6. Boston College
  1. Kyle Fagan
  2. Doctoral Student
  3. Instructional Leadership for Science Practices
  4. http://sciencepracticesleadership.com/
  5. Boston College
  1. Rebecca Katsh-singer
  2. Doctoral Candidate
  3. Instructional Leadership for Science Practices
  4. http://sciencepracticesleadership.com/
  5. Boston College
  1. Rebecca Lowenhaupt
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Instructional Leadership for Science Practices
  4. http://sciencepracticesleadership.com/
  5. Boston College
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Teresa Eastburn

    Teresa Eastburn

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 01:04 p.m.

    In my opinion we can’t improve STEM education for all without strong professional development programs to strengthen STEM teaching and engagement. How many schools (teachers there) are you working with presently and how many will you be working with over the period of your research? Is the project scalable? And, in terms of the resources from your website, how are the materials vetted across STEM subjects? Is the content based on NGSS skills and practices, and for elementary classrooms only? Thanks and congrats on your work and remembering that a teacher’s impact can be for a lifetime!

  • Icon for: Katherine McNeill

    Katherine McNeill

    Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 01:31 p.m.

    The focus of the work is on principals and assistant principals. This school year we are working closely with 4 principals, each in a different school, as we develop the resources. Next school year (2016-2017), we will be working with 25 principals from 25 different schools. The principals are from elementary, middle and k-8 schools.

    We are developing the resources so others can use them off the website, with the hope that they will be scaleable to a much larger audience. Recently, the resources were shared with the Council of State Science Supervisors, but we also want to reach more non-science focused audiences.

    The focus of the project is on the 8 science practices in NGSS for k-8. We are testing out the resources across the different science disciplines.

  • Icon for: Teresa Eastburn

    Teresa Eastburn

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2016 | 02:10 p.m.

    Thanks Katherine. Sorry that I didn’t catch that you’re not necessarily observing but that the principals are given tools so that they do so successfully. (I see that clear as day now!) And since this is a practice that is expected of principals, you are helping them be more effective with STEM observations. I will be interested in how the project is viewed by the principals and also the teachers. Are resources on your website accessible to them both? Thanks for your answers, Katherine, and good luck this week! This is an unique niche in STEM!

  • Icon for: Susan Kowalski

    Susan Kowalski

    Senior Research Scientist
    May 16, 2016 | 03:29 p.m.

    I love your focus on the larger system: supporting science teachers by supporting their principals. How difficult was it to recruit principals to participate?

  • Icon for: Rebecca Lowenhaupt

    Rebecca Lowenhaupt

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 04:41 p.m.

    Recruitment hasn’t been easy. Because of accountability pressures, many k-8 principals are very focused on mathematics and literacy, so it is a challenge for many of them to prioritize science. However, we have found several who are hungry for support with science. They value it and want to work on it, but don’t always know how.

  • Icon for: Sally Crissman

    Sally Crissman

    Senior Science Educator
    May 16, 2016 | 03:41 p.m.

    Principals are key! In our work with K-8 teachers over the years, those who make the most progress are likely found in schools with strong principal support for teacher professional learning and a robust science program. Principals are busy thus online tools to help them know what to look for and how to support teacher growth and change will be a boon!

  • Icon for: Rebecca Lowenhaupt

    Rebecca Lowenhaupt

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2016 | 04:42 p.m.

    Yes! We have found that many principals lack (and want) easy, adaptable tools that they can figure out quickly and integrate into what they are already doing.

  • Icon for: Deborah Hanuscin

    Deborah Hanuscin

    Associate Professor
    May 17, 2016 | 10:03 a.m.

    What an important piece of the reform process! I’m curious to know more about how you planned your scaling up from 4 principles to 25, and what you learned through that initial round that will impact future work.

  • Icon for: Katherine McNeill

    Katherine McNeill

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 09:02 a.m.

    Debi – We have been working closely with the 4 principals this year meeting regularly all together as a design group and “shadowing” their supervision of science. The focus on principals is definitely new to me and has been really interesting. None of the principals’ backgrounds is in science, which is typical of principals. So probably not surprisingly initially their feedback focused more on general pedagogy and student engagement. We have seen a shift to more of a focus on the science practices. Initially, the investigating practice (e.g. conducting investigations) seemed easier for them than some of the sensemaking practices (e.g. models, explanations). As we scale to more principals next year, we are going to try to use that as a leverage point to first get them to focus on investigating and then more into explanation, models, argument, etc.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Adams

    Jennifer Adams

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 08:09 p.m.

    I like the focus on school leadership and guidance on how to look and notice different aspects of science without having the content background. Having the app to support classroom observations and to give focused feedback is also a strong aspect of the project. I would like to hear a little more about the kinds of ongoing support that the principals (and their teachers) receive in applying the NGSS standards.

  • Icon for: Katherine McNeill

    Katherine McNeill

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 09:05 a.m.

    The 4 principals we are working with closely this year meet with us regularly to provide us feedback on the development of the tools. I have never developed an “app” before and that has definitely required multiple rounds of revision, but we really like the current version.

    Initially, the support the principals were providing their teachers was through the observation and feedback sessions using the Science Practices Continuum and accompanying instructional strategies from the website. Now that the principals are becoming more comfortable with the science practices, they are making plans for more formal professional development for their teachers using the tools. They requested that we develop sample PD agendas that highlight ways to use the resources on the website. So that is what we are working on now to add to the website.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Adams

    Jennifer Adams

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2016 | 12:17 p.m.

    That is a good idea to develop sample agendas. Also, have you done any modeling—doing an actual PD with principals that they could then reflect on and facilitate with their teachers?

  • Icon for: Katherine McNeill

    Katherine McNeill

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 12:43 p.m.

    Yes! We modeled PD with the principals last week when we meet to get their feedback on the format that they think would work best with their teachers. It was a really interesting conversation afterwards.

  • Icon for: Jennifer Adams

    Jennifer Adams

    Facilitator
    May 19, 2016 | 03:20 p.m.

    What were some of the interesting points that came up?

  • Icon for: Roger Taylor

    Roger Taylor

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 09:07 p.m.

    Could you talk more the knowledge and skills that principals are lacking.

  • Icon for: Katherine McNeill

    Katherine McNeill

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 09:10 a.m.

    In the first year of the project, we started by interviewing 26 principals to develop an understanding of their perspectives on science and what they “noticed” when observing science. 23 of the 26 did NOT have a background in either science or math. Rather the majority of the principals had backgrounds in ELA, social studies or general elementary education. In describing “good” science instruction the majority of them talked about hands on science, but that had a range of meanings. Some of those meanings aligned with the investigating elements of the science practices, while others were more arts or crafts projects. When observing video of science instruction, the majority included a focus on general pedagogy and student engagement with few comments about the science content or science practices. When they did bring up the science practices, again it tended to be around investigating.

    Moving forwards, we are trying to support the principals in “noticing” the science practices and specifically supporting their understanding of some of the Sensemaking (e.g. explanation, models) and Critiquing (e.g. argument) practices.

  • Icon for: Lauren Allen

    Lauren Allen

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 10:18 p.m.

    I agree, this is such an important niche and not one that we hear about often! I am really interested in the different school cultures that you have observed by working with principles from four different schools. How are the principals’ relationships with their teachers different and similar to one another? Is there any opportunity for principals to get together and share their reflections, struggles, and/or discoveries through the website or in person as part of this project?

  • Icon for: Lauren Allen

    Lauren Allen

    Facilitator
    May 17, 2016 | 10:18 p.m.

    I agree, this is such an important niche and not one that we hear about often! I am really interested in the different school cultures that you have observed by working with principles from four different schools. How are the principals’ relationships with their teachers different and similar to one another? Is there any opportunity for principals to get together and share their reflections, struggles, and/or discoveries through the website or in person as part of this project?

  • Icon for: Katherine McNeill

    Katherine McNeill

    Presenter
    May 18, 2016 | 09:25 a.m.

    Great question about the different school cultures! The principals are definitely in 4 schools with very different cultures. Two of the principals are even in the same urban district, but their schools are very different – one at the risk of being a turn around school. The level of trust varies in the school in terms of whether the feedback is seen as more “supportive” or “evaluative”.

    We do meet as a group in person exactly so the principals’ can share their reflections with each other as well as provide us with feedback and future direction. When we met last week, one of the things they asked for were sample agendas and resources to help them run PD with their teachers around the ILSP resources. We had an interesting discussion on where they would start in the PD and they had different perspectives in part because of their different school cultures. One principal talked about how she would starting with the Investigating Practices, because she was seeing some of that and she needed to first show the teachers that she valued and saw some strengths in their current instruction. Another principal talked about how he would start with the Sensemaking practices, because this was an area of need and the school is trying to identify areas for change for next school year.

  • Icon for: Rebecca Lowenhaupt

    Rebecca Lowenhaupt

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2016 | 10:35 a.m.

    One aspect of context that we’ve been working to understand is the intersection of reform in other subjects with science reform. Some of our participants see this as an opportunity to link ideas (e.g. more critical thinking) across the subject areas, but we worry that this might lead to a watered-down implementation that neglects the science-specific aspects of the NGSS.

  • Icon for: Veronica Cassone McGowan

    Veronica Cassone McGowan

    May 19, 2016 | 02:54 p.m.

    Excellent point that one major challenge to improving science instruction and learning is the that few educational leaders have backgrounds in science or STEM-relalted fields more broadly. I’m curious, how does this tool frame the science and engineering practices- does it allow for heterogenous interpretation of the practice depending on how they show up in the local community and students everyday lives?

  • Icon for: Katherine McNeill

    Katherine McNeill

    Presenter
    May 22, 2016 | 09:08 p.m.

    For each of the 8 science practices, we have focused on 1 or 2 key levers that can help support students in that practice. We talk a lot to the 4 principals we are working with closely this year about the importance of school context and the backgrounds of their students. But you make a great point in that I am not sure how clearly that has been conveyed in the actual tools.

  • Icon for: Jacqueline Barber

    Jacqueline Barber

    Director of the Learning Design Group
    May 20, 2016 | 12:09 p.m.

    Super interesting project, Kate! I’m curious—has the inclusion of “literacy” practices (e.g. Practices 6, 7, 8 around explanation, argumentation, obtaining and communicating information) increased the confidence, interest, and/or perceived importance of the NGSS by the principals with whom you are working?

  • Icon for: Katherine McNeill

    Katherine McNeill

    Presenter
    May 22, 2016 | 09:07 p.m.

    The connections to literacy are definitely seen as a benefit. And for some principals I think it does help them with confidence. They actually tend to feel the most comfortable with the Practice 1 Questioning, though I think they overmap what I see as counting as that practice beyond experimental questions to any questions related to science.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.