Teaching Science at Jordan Middle School: Joint Planning and Technology Integration
Team planning can be mandated by a principal or can happen naturally between like-minded teachers. At Jordan Middle School*, two science teachers in rooms adjacent to one another began slowly but steadily a few years ago to plan units of instruction for their 8th graders. A generation apart in age, these two teachers, one in her sixth year at Jordan, and Sue Pound, a New Zealand native and late-comer to teaching–she is in her 18th year of teaching–have planned units together. The team has planned many units together including the lessons I observed two consecutive days. In connecting rooms, I saw both teachers, come and go into each other’s rooms, checking on students and materials for their jointly prepared lessons.
The state-approved physical science text they have for their students is outdated and soon to be obsolete with the state-approved Next Generation Science Standards for grades 5-8. These new standards concentrate on integrating concepts across science disciplines rather than content of each subject as in physical science, a course that both teachers have been teaching for years. The jointly-planned unit project is on Phase Changes and what I describe here is consistent with these new standards.
These two teachers, then, have managed over time to cobble together readings, worksheets, exercises, and examples gotten from many sources including colleagues and the Internet, an alternative text that would be consistent with the new science standards,
The hour-long lesson I observed Sue Pound teach on October 15, 2016 was on the jointly-planned project about Phase Changes of solids, liquids and gases.
The spacious room is furnished like her team-mate’s: tables seating 3-5 students facing one another with containers of rulers, colored pencils, and markers distributed on counter tops in front and back of room.