Doing Good Science:

Inquiry in the Middle School Classroom!
web seminar player window The second of two Web Seminars on Doing Good Science was held on Wednesday, February 8, 2006, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time. The session was presented by Olaf Jorgenson, co-author of the NSTA Press publication Doing Good Science in Middle School. Among the participants were some teachers who had attended the face-to- face symposium at the NSTA Area Convention in Hartford, CT.

The session started with a general overview of the NSTA Web Seminar tools and how they can be used to facilitate interaction between the participants and the presenters. Eighty-two participants were present in addition to the presenter and the NSTA staff. Participating educators represented the states of Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Four participants joined the group from Canada, Bulgaria, Thailand, and Great Britain.

Dr. Jorgenson first talked about the obstacles that teachers have in implementing inquiry in the science classroom. Some of these obstacles are resources (or lack of them), habits, teacher training, administrative support. Participants shared some of their obstacles as well. The presenter then talked about some of the potential solutions to these obstacles, like taking advantage of every opportunity available to showcase inquiry to administrators, parents, and other teachers to demonstrate its value.

web seminar player window with poll results

The evening's second focus question was related to No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Is NCLB affecting the way science teachers teach? Over 50% of the participants answer YES to this question. Participants shared some of their experiences in this area. Some indicated that they were told to stop teaching science altogether. Dr. Jorgenson proposed the idea of using science notebooks in the classroom to increase students' knowledge of science and at the same time to enhance their literacy skills. The discussion about science notebooks was very interesting, and included ideas on how to assess the students' work on the notebooks. Throughout the presentation there were several opportunities for the participants to interact with each other and with the presenter by answering poll questions, chatting, stamping, and marking.

Here are some comments provided by the participants at the end of the Web Seminar:

  • "Great way to interact with colleagues from all around the world and share viewpoints on important topics."
  • "Nice to see others have the same issues. I am a new teacher at age 52 but
    love making it exciting for the kids. This gave me ideas and links to
    use. I need to read the book."
  • "Good seminar. I found the discussion on science notebooks valuable. I learned how inquiry impacts testing (in the study)."
  • "Research concerning science inquiry - increases student literacy and test
    scores! I am bringing this data to my districts science curriculum office to
    try and jump start some changes in the current curriculum."

Thanks to the participants and Olaf for the learning opportunity, the interactions, and a job well done!

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Underwritten in part by NSTA Press