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Perspectives on Deepening Teachers' Science Content Knowledge: The Case of the Michigan Teaching Excellence Program

Abstract

"The Michigan Teaching Excellence Program (MiTEP) is a partnership between Michigan Technological University, Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Area Pre-College Engineering Program, and the Grand Rapids Public School District, targeting 15 teachers of middle grades earth sciences in its first year. Teachers engage in two weeks of summer field studies with supporting lectures; the primary goals are to deepen teacher disciplinary content knowledge beyond the level expected of their students, and to enhance teacher understanding of the nature of scientific inquiry. To facilitate teacher application of their enhanced content knowledge in their classrooms, the project selected experiences that relate to both the state's content expectations for earth science education and to geology features encountered locally by the district's students. Project team members are expected to model appropriate pedagogical practices throughout the professional development, including requiring learners to provide evidence to support their claims, and encouraging them to reflect on their emerging understanding of earth science concepts in daily journals. In addition, one day during the first week and two days during the second week are designated as pedagogy days, where teachers adapt the learned content to district adopted pedagogical norms and models, including the Disciplinary Literacy framework developed by the Institute for Learning at the University of Pittsburgh. Finally, in response to participants' requests, project staff are developing classroom activities similar to those the teachers experienced, but at a level appropriate for middle grades students."

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