Monday Dec 12, 2022
Monday Dec 12, 2022
Presented and produced by Seán Delaney
On this podcast I spoke to Professor Mark Windschitl from the University of Washington about teaching science and especially the science of climate change. As usual with these podcasts we covered a wide range of topics, including the following:
- What core practices are in teacher education (e.g. teachers need to elicit ideas students already have about the topic being taught).
- Why, although important, there is much more to teaching than core practices, such as developing respectful and trusting relationships with students.
- As teachers gain experience, they add nuance and flexibility to the core practices.
- What ambitious science teaching is: willingness to constantly improve one’s practice, to take risks to improve their practice and to base changes on students’ response to their teaching.
- The need for a teacher pursuing ambitious science teaching to understand topics (e.g. the greenhouse effect) in great depth, with flexibility, and connected to children’s everyday lives.
- The biggest ideas in biology that can be taught in a second-level school setting (e.g. how ecosystems function in the world).
- Trees extend their roots out to other trees and can cause chemical changes in other trees.
- Selecting candidates for teaching science and engaging in ambitious science teaching
- How the impact of testing in schools shapes the curriculum.
- The importance of academically productive discourse in the classroom about science ideas. Productive talk in a classroom is a process of sense-making and meaning making.
- The need for teachers to have models of ambitious science teaching that is relevant to the setting in which they teach.
- How to teach children the science of climate change without elevating eco-anxiety.
- Why solutions need to be threaded into the teaching of climate change
- The importance of understanding the greenhouse effect and why understanding that is not enough (the need to know about ecosystems, the oceans, the cryosphere – the frozen parts of the earth, and tipping points)
- The scale of climate change phenomena
- The idea of “carbon footprint” was introduced by a petroleum company (BP)
- What schools can do to mitigate the effects of climate change (e.g. making Prom night – the Debs – greener)
- Plastics pollution is different to climate change but both are connected in many students’ minds
- Students being exposed to sceptical points of view in some areas. Although such perspectives need to be managed carefully, sceptical views might not be as big a problem as we would expect. It may help to focus on the science of the greenhouse effect.
- The challenge of beef production as part of the climate change discussion
- The difficulty of conveying the scale of climate change
- Finding and evaluating climate change data – the challenge of media literacy. Among the known reputable outlets he identifies are: NASA, NOAA, WHO, and the UN.
- The importance of having a reason when sharing data about climate change.
- Assessing students’ knowledge of climate change
- How he became interested in education research
- How he conducts his research to find out how novice teachers become “well-started beginners”
- Helping novice teachers use agency to move beyond reproducing someone else’s teaching
- How he finds time to write – bringing a notebook with him when going out for a stroll and doing 14 versions of an article before it’s ready for publication
- Who research in education is for and how does it influence practice in education? Is it through instructional coaches? School leaders?
- Having children do well-structured work in small groups (that is equitable and rigorous) in class, at least part of the time, is hugely beneficial for their learning.
- Productive academic discourse in science is difficult to find in classrooms in the Unites States.
- Another research question is why technology failed to deliver for education during COVID
- Why schools and the communities around them should have porous boundaries
- The value of a teacher sharing (a) the kind of science they’re interested in (b) something about their family and (c) a hobby they have with their class in order to decrease the psychological difference between the teacher and their students.
- He refers to the book Teaching and its predicaments by David Cohen.
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