15 Pages


Reflections on Science Teacher Education and Professional Development for Reform-Based Elementary Science
WithCory T. Forbes

Sensemaking in Elementary Science: Supporting Teacher Learning draws from expertise and cutting-edge work spanning the fields of science education and teacher education to collectively articulate a vision for elementary science teacher education and professional development that supports contemporary science education reform efforts. The Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) have ushered in a new era of science education that, while building upon the past (e.g., NRC, 1996; 2000), presents novel opportunities and foundations for science teaching and learning in K-12 classrooms. This is no less the case for elementary (K-5) settings, where the emphasis on three-dimensional learning (disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts) demand a reconceptualization of elementary science that foregrounds student sensemaking. And, as noted in the volume’s introduction, illustrated in contributed chapters, and supported by an ever-growing body of research, early learners are capable of productively engaging with the natural world and science in this way (e.g., Baumfalk et al., 2019; Beyer and Davis, 2008; Manz, 2012; McNeill, 2011). Opportunities for them to do so help ensure that “all students are provided with equitable opportunities to learn science and become engaged in science and engineering practices” (NRC, 2012, p. 28), building a solid foundation for lifelong science learning not influenced by gender, socioeconomic status, and other similar factors. While achieving this vision requires comprehensive reform of all aspects of elementary science (e.g., instruction, curriculum, and assessment), teachers will remain the critical linchpin in science learning environments. And while NGSS presents new opportunities for both teachers and students, they will undoubtedly also present teachers with new questions and challenges related to elementary science. As such, ongoing efforts to support elementary teachers—both preservice and inservice—to cultivate elementary science learning environments that reflect contemporary science education reform priorities are more important than ever.