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Brian's Class Materials- FALL 2009 - SEYS 362

SEYS 362 Home

Queens College/CUNY
Education Unit
Fall 2009


SEYS 362 

Section:  E4R3

Methods of Teaching Science in Middle School and High School

 Thursday 4:30 pm to 7:00 pm

 Kiely Hall Room 115

Please complete the course evaluation before the last week

Week 1 Week
Week 9 Week 10 Week 11 Week 12 Week 13 Week 14 Week 15 Week 16
Week 17


Brian Murfin, Ph.D.,
Office:  Powdermaker Hall Room 150P,

Office Hours: 

Wednesday 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
Thursday 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
And by appointment

Please send me email to to arrange an online appointment using either:

Phone:  (631) 223-8311



 SEYS 362.  Methods of Teaching Science in Middle School and High School. 3 hr.; 20 hr. of field experience; 3 cr. Prereq. or coreq.: SEYS 350. Open only to students in science teacher education programs. Focuses on the development of students’ pedagogical content knowledge in their specific science subject areas. Secondary school science curriculum, along with research-based learning, instructional and assessment strategies, will be examined.

Education Unit Conceptual Framework:

This course is being offered by the Secondary Education department which is part of the Education Unit at Queens College. The Education Unit seeks to promote equity, excellence, and ethics in urban education and is committed to preparing teachers and other education professionals who will:

  •  Build inclusive communities that nurture and challenge all learners (Equity)
  • Demonstrate professionalism, scholarship, efficacy, and evidence-based and reflective practice (Excellence)
  • Diversity, democracy, and social justice (Ethics)

This course is aligned with the Education Unit’s commitment to preparing educational professionals to work in diverse urban and suburban communities. Specifically, the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that candidates will development/demonstrate at the successful completion of this course are directly linked to the Education Unit’s seven principles: 1) discipline specific competencies, 2) learning and development, 3) families and urban communities, 4) diversity, inclusion, democracy and social justice, 5) language and literacy, 6) curriculum, instruction, and assessment, and 7) technology.


The course objectives for this course are closely aligned with the NCATE and NSTA science teaching standards and these standards have been adapted for this course. Obviously you may not be able to accomplish every objective listed in the NSTA Standards in this one course.  However, by the end of your Science Teacher Education Program you should have met all of the NSTA Standards for Science Teacher Preparation.   You should save this list of Standards, and check off each one as you feel you have accomplished it.  If you have questions about a particular standard, please feel free to ask the instructor.

GOALS: By the end of the course, participants will be able to do the following:

1)      Be able to ensure that all students receive an equal opportunity to learn science, regardless of gender, ethnic group, sexual orientation or socioeconomic status. (Equity), (Ethics)

2)      Identify strategies that will help all students learn such as the use of a variety of teaching styles, learning modalities, multiple intelligences, anti-racist teaching, and gender-friendly techniques.  (Equity), (Ethics)

3)      Become familiar with learning theories and be able to apply this knowledge to develop more appropriate and effective science learning experiences. (Excellence)

4)      Locate useful science education resources such as lesson plans, unit plans, ideas for activities, science education organizations, etc. (Excellence)

5)      Determine the appropriate content to be taught according to national and state science standards, district and school requirements, the level, experience and background of the students, and an understanding of science teaching philosophy and learning theories.  This includes:

a.       Recognizing what should be included and what should not be included in a curriculum.  (Excellence)

b.      Recognizing the most important content, i.e. making sure content is age-appropriate and prioritizing content.  (Excellence)

c.       Being able to recognize one’s own areas of science content weakness and how to improve them.  (Excellence)

d.      Understanding how to design and teach lessons to different grade levels.  (Excellence)

6)      Understanding the nature of science and how it is different from other areas of knowledge (Excellence)

7)       Developing a personal philosophy of science education that explains why science should be taught (Excellence), (Ethics)

8)      Design and teach a variety of science lessons that incorporate (inquiry, the learning cycle, cooperative learning, laboratories, demonstrations, analogies, models, recitation, guided discussion, questioning, inquiry, simulations, technology, etc.) that demonstrate a knowledge of learner differences, abilities, students’ prior knowledge, and misconceptions. (Excellence)

9)      Identify the legal, ethical and safety responsibilities of the teacher in the science classroom (Excellence), (Ethics)

10)  Know how to identify and implement safety procedures in the science classroom and laboratory.  (Excellence)

11)  Be able to adapt a science lesson in order to meet the needs of one of the following examples of student special needs: visually impaired, hear impaired, LEP or ESL students, learning disabled, behavior problem, gifted.  (Excellence), (Ethics)

12)  Demonstrate reflective teaching, including:

a.       Reflecting upon the reason for a specific lesson and for the choice of methodology  (Excellence)

b.      Reflecting upon the effectiveness of various teaching strategies in order to develop a sense of their appropriateness relative to the situation  (Excellence)

13)  Developing a sense of what science is and a philosophy regarding why it should be taught (Excellence), (Ethics)

14)  Construct clear and appropriate assessment tools (both traditional and alternative assessment) specific to the science lesson and linked to state and national standards and lesson objectives.  (Excellence)

15)  Design and teach a laboratory activity.  This includes:

a.       Managing a laboratory activity in a secondary school environment that is safe and efficient  (Excellence)

b.      Creating a laboratory activity that incorporates technology  (Excellence)

c.       Setting up clear directions and goals  (Excellence)

d.      Carry out an inquiry-based lesson.  (Excellence)

16)  Identify supporting materials used in science teaching, including the most popular student texts being used, and the cost and availability of science equipment in different school districts.  This includes recognizing the need for alternative resources for schools that do not have good equipment or funding.  (Equity), (Excellence)

17)  Be able to determine the reading level of a science textbook. (Excellence)

18)  Be able to evaluate textbooks and software for bias, and educational value.  (Equity)(Excellence)

19)  Be able to use technology effectively and appropriately in a science lesson.  (Excellence)

20)  Be familiar with important teaching techniques in your area of science. (Excellence)

NSTA Standards for Science Teacher Preparation
Standard 1:  Content

To show that they are prepared in content, teachers of science must demonstrate that they:

  • Understand and can successfully convey to students the major concepts, principles, theories, laws, and interrelationships of their fields of licensure and supporting fields as recommended by the National Science Teachers Association. 
  • Understand and can successfully convey to students the unifying concepts of science delineated by the National Science Education Standards.
  • Understand and can successfully convey to students important personal and technological applications of science in their fields of licensure.
  • Understand research and can successfully design, conduct, report and evaluate investigations in science.
  • Understand and can successfully use mathematics to process and report data, and solve problems, in their field(s) of licensure.

Secondary teachers are generally prepared with more depth in the content of a given field than are teachers of younger students.  The major divisions of the natural sciences are biology, chemistry, the Earth and space sciences, and physics.  All teachers licensed in a given discipline should know, understand, and teach with the breadth of understanding reflected in the core competencies for that discipline.  Specialists in a discipline should also have achieved the advanced competencies for that discipline.  All secondary teachers should also be prepared to lead students to understand the unifying concepts of science including:

  • Multiple ways we organize our perceptions of the world and how systems organize the studies and knowledge of science.
  • Nature of scientific evidence and the use of models for explanation.
  • Measurement as a way of knowing and organizing observations of constancy and change.
  • Evolution of natural systems and factors that result in evolution or equilibrium.
  • Interrelationships of form, function, and behaviors in living and nonliving systems.
Standard 2: Nature of Science

Teachers of science engage students effectively in studies of the history, philosophy, and practice of science.  They enable students to distinguish science from nonscience, understand the evolution and practice of science as a human endeavor, and critically analyze assertions made in the name of science.  To show they are prepared to teach the nature of science, teachers of science must demonstrate that they:

  1. Understand the historical and cultural development of science and the evolution of knowledge in their discipline.
  2. Understand the philosophical tenets, assumptions, goals, and values that distinguish science from technology and from other ways of knowing the world.
  3. Engage students successfully in studies of the nature of science including, when possible, the critical analysis of false or doubtful assertions made in the name of science.

Standard 3:  Inquiry

Teachers of science engage students both in studies of various methods of scientific inquiry and in active learning through scientific inquiry.  They encourage students, individually and collaboratively, to observe, ask questions, design inquiries, and collect and interpret data in order to develop concepts and relationships from empirical experiences.  To show that they are prepared to teach through inquiry, teachers of science must demonstrate that they:

  1. Understand the processes, tenets, and assumptions of multiple methods of inquiry leading to scientific knowledge.
  2. Engage students successfully in developmentally appropriate inquiries that require them to develop concepts and relationships from their observations, data, and inferences in a scientific manner.

Standard 4: Issues

Teachers of science recognize that informed citizens must be prepared to make decisions and take action on contemporary science- and technology-related issues of interest to the general society.  They require students to conduct inquiries into the factual basis of such issues and to assess possible actions and outcomes based upon their goals and values. To show that they are prepared to engage students in studies of issues related to science, teachers of science must demonstrate that they:

  1. Understand socially important issues related to science and technology in their field of licensure, as well as processes used to analyze and make decisions on such issues.
  2. Engage students successfully in the analysis of problems, including considerations of risks, costs, and benefits of alternative solutions; relating these to the knowledge, goals and values of the students.

Standard 5: General Skills of Teaching

Teachers of science create a community of diverse learners who construct meaning from their science experiences and possess a disposition for further exploration and learning.  They use, and can justify, a variety of classroom arrangements, groupings, actions, strategies, and methodologies. To show that they are prepared to create a community of diverse learners, teachers of science must demonstrate that they:

  1. Vary their teaching actions, strategies, and methods to promote the development of multiple student skills and levels of understanding.
  2. Successfully promote the learning of science by students with different abilities, needs, interests, and backgrounds.
  3. Successfully organize and engage students in collaborative learning using different student group learning strategies.
  4. Successfully use technological tools, including but not limited to computer technology, to access resources, collect and process data, and facilitate the learning of science.
  5. Understand and build effectively upon the prior beliefs, knowledge, experiences, and interests of students.
  6. Create and maintain a psychologically and socially safe and supportive learning environment. 

Standard 6: Curriculum

Teachers of science plan and implement an active, coherent, and effective curriculum that is consistent with the goals and recommendations of the National Science Education Standards.  They begin with the end in mind and effectively incorporate contemporary practices and resources into their planning and teaching. To show that they are prepared to plan and implement an effective science curriculum, teachers of science must demonstrate that they:
  1. Understand the curricular recommendations of the National Science Education Standards, and can identify, access, and/or create resources and activities for science education that are consistent with the standards.
  2. Plan and implement internally consistent units of study that address the diverse goals of the National Science Education Standards and the needs and abilities of students.
Standards 7:  Science in the Community
Teachers of science relate their discipline to their local and regional communities, involving stakeholders and using the individual, institutional, and natural resources of the community in their teaching.  They actively engage students in science-related studies or activities related to locally important issues.  To show that they are prepared to relate science to the community, teachers of science must demonstrate that they:
  1. Identify ways to relate science to the community, involve stakeholders, and use community resources to promote the learning of science.
  2. Involve students successfully in activities that relate science to resources and stakeholders in the community or to the resolution of issues important to the community.

Standards 8:  Assessment

Teachers of science construct and use effective assessment strategies to determine the backgrounds and achievements of learners and facilitate their intellectual, social, and personal development.  They assess students fairly and equitably, and require that students engage in ongoing self-assessment.  To show that they are prepared to use assessment effectively, teachers of science must demonstrate that they:
  1. Use multiple assessment tools and strategies to achieve important goals for instruction that are aligned with methods of instruction and the needs of students.
  2. Use the results of multiple assessments to guide and modify instruction, the classroom environment, or the assessment process.
  3. Use the results of assessments as vehicles for students to analyze their own learning, engaging students in reflective self-analysis of their own work. 

Standard 9:  Safety and Welfare

Teachers of science organize safe and effective learning environments that promote the success of students and the welfare of all living things.  They require and promote knowledge and respect for safety, and oversee the welfare of all living things used in the classroom or found in the field.  To show that they are prepared, teachers of science must demonstrate that they:
  1. Understand the legal and ethical responsibilities of science teachers for the welfare of their students, the proper treatment of animals, and the maintenance and disposal of materials.
  2. Know and practice safe and proper techniques for the preparation, storage, dispensing, supervision, and disposal of all materials used in science instruction.
  3. Know and follow emergency procedures, maintain safety equipment, and ensure safety procedures appropriate for the activities and the abilities of students.
  4. Treat all living organisms used in the classroom or found in the field in a safe, humane, and ethical manner and respect legal restrictions on their collection, keeping, and use.

Standard 10:  Professional Growth

 Teachers of science strive continuously to grow and change, personally and professionally, to meet the diverse needs of their students, school, community, and profession.  They have a desire and disposition for growth and betterment.  To show their disposition for growth, teachers of science must demonstrate that they:

  1. Engage actively and continuously in opportunities for professional learning and leadership that reach beyond minimum job requirements.
  2. Reflect constantly upon their teaching and identify ways and means through which they may grow professionally.
  3. Use information from students, supervisors, colleagues and others to improve their teaching and facilitate their professional growth.
  4. Interact effectively with colleagues, parents, and students; mentor new colleagues; and foster positive relationships with the community.


     1.  Textbook (required): 

     2.  Textbook (recommended).  (These should be available in the library): 

  • Teaching Secondary School Science : Strategies for Developing Scientific Literacy (8th Edition) by Leslie W. Trowbridge , Rodger W. Bybee , Janet Carlson-Powell
  • Invitations to Science Inquiry by Tik Liem
  • Last Child in the Woods Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (2005).  by Richard Louv.
  • A Sourcebook for the Biological Sciences (Teaching Science)
    by Evelyn Morholt , Paul F. Brandwein
  • Inquiring and Problem-Solving in the Physical Sciences: A Sourcebook by Vincent N. Lunetta

     3.  Supplies and/or tools: None


Week 1 – 9/3/2009 -  Overview of course, goals, requirements, field experience and field experience journal


Useful web sites:

Assigned readings:

  1. Read Chapter 1 of "Behold the Ostrich"  The link is in the Course documents folder in BlackBoard.  
    You can use the comment form to submit feedback.
  2. Read the National Academies of Science release and report: America's Lab Report: Investigations in High School Science (2005)
  3. Read one of the following papers on the "Nature of Science" and post brief comments on the discussion board in BlackBoard.

Week 2 – 9/10/2009 – Gender, Ethnicity, Racism and Science Teaching and Learning/The Nature of Science



  • "Are Women Stronger Than Men?"  (Liem, 1992, p. 326)
  • Women in Science - Gender and the Science Classroom Quiz (discuss in small groups) f
  • Visit to the QC library (We will leave by 5:30pm) to locate useful science education books and journals.  Everyone should check out a science education book and a science book from the Juvenile Pre-K-12 science section.   You might also want to check out a science textbook, or a science reference book in your field of science.   
  • Library visit schedule:
    • We will walk over together to the library from Kiely 115 .  Please note:  Take all your belongings as we won't be returning today.
    • We will enter at the Main Floor (3rd floor).  You will need to have a picture ID to enter (preferably your Queens College ID).  After entering we will meet Professor Suzanne Li, who is also an education librarian.  Our first stop will be to look at some Science Education Reference Materials (located in the aisle between Q1 and QA36) .  Examples of reference books are  handbooks of research on science education,  National Science Education Standards, science education statistics, etc.  (You can look at these in the library but you cannot check them out.)
    • Next we will go up to the 5th floor where you can find circulating science education books and Peterson Field Guides.  You can pick out a science education book here.  
    • On the 4th floor just beyond the juvenile (Pre-K-12) collection, we will look at science textbooks and teacher editions, and assorted science books.  The books in the Juvenile section are arranged by topic.
    • Finally we will go down to the first floor to see the educational curriculum center  in Room 109B.  Most of the materials here are older or for elementary education.  You will notice many metal filing cabinets.  These contain microfiche of ERIC documents.  You probably can find most of these documents online but it is here, just in case.
    • After visiting the center, you can browse the science education journals that are located online and also  at the following locations  on the first floor
    • Remember, do not hesitate to ask the reference librarians for help if you can't find something.

Useful websites:

Gender and Science

Diversity, Multicultural Science

Disabilities and Science Teaching and Learning

Nature of Science

Assigned reading and viewing:

Week 3 – 9/17/2009 – Planning of science lessons and units

Introduction to Planning - Units of Instruction

    1. Review: Science Content standards: elementary generalist, elementary/middle, all secondary, secondary biology, secondary chemistry, secondary earth/space, secondary physics
    2. Review: Science Teacher Preparation Standards
    3. Review: New York State Science Standards (standards in pdf format)
    4. Review: National Science Education Standards
    5. Bloom's Taxonomy, charts , verbs for writing science objectives
    6. How to prepare a lesson plan
    7. Suggested lesson plan format for science lessons
    8. Designing a Unit Plan

Class Activities: 

    • Case Studies , Ethics case
    • Today's activity: The Mystery Object ! More info on the "Mystery Object "
    • Form groups of 2 to 4 people for Assignment #2 (Minilesson).  Each group should pick a topic and possible activities.  Post the names of your group, your topic, and possible activities on the Discussion Board in BlackBoard.  Your group should post a lesson plan using the lesson plan format for your minilesson on the Discussion Board in BlackBoard by 9/17/2008
    • Form groups for the Science Kit Review.  One person in each group should post the names of the group members and the kit chosen.  You can sign out the kit from my office before or after class.  

Useful websites:

Safety and liability - Lesson planning , Suggested lesson plan format , The "Aweseome Library" of science lesson plans , Bloom's taxonomy , motivation, Rogers and Maslow

Animals in the classroom , Laboratory science , Safety and School Science Instruction ,

Materials Safety Data Sheets

A good outdoor activity "Height Sites"

Assigned reading and viewing:

Assignment 1 due - Professional Science Education Organization Review

Week 4 – 9/24/2009 – Minilesson 1 - Group microteaching (2 to 4 students teach a ten minute lesson to the class)


Minilesson 1 - Group microteaching

Assigned reading and viewing:

Assignment 2 due - Minilesson 1 - Group microteaching

 Week 5 – 10/1/2009 – Learning Theories, Philosophy of Science, Nature of Science


Useful Websites:

 Listing of learning theories (Ausubel , Bruner , Piaget , Gagne , Vygotsky , Bandura ) guildfordConcept mapping , advance organizers Wait time , questioning techniques

Assigned reading and viewing:

Week 6 – 10/8/2009 –  Safety in the Science lab, ethical and legal issues in science education


Assigned reading and viewing:

Week 7 – 10/15/2009 – Reviews of Science Kits - Please post your review on the discussion board on BlackBoard.

  • Group 1 - Review of a Science Kit - "A baker's dozen of chemistry demos"
  • Group 2 - Review of a Science Kit - "Washington School rock and mineral collection"
  • Group 3 - Review of a Science Kit - "Sherlock Bones: Identification  of skeletal remains"
  • Group 4 - Review of a Science Kit - "DNA Fingerprinting Diagnostics Kit (replication, PCR, and RFLP)"

Week 8 – 10/22/2009 –  Use of Technology in Science Teaching and Learning  

  • The Smartboard - an example of a potentially powerful technology tool - Demonstration of Smartboard use in Science Teaching and learning
  • Discussion of the use and misuse of technology in science teaching and learning.  Good and bad examples of technology use.  
  • Group Activities: : 
    • develop a science activity that uses data obtained from the web.  Please post a short description of your activity on the Discussion Board in BlackBoard
    • List creative ways of using a Smartboard to teach science 
Useful websites:

Links to explore:

Field trip site:  American Museum of Natural History

Tentative date for field trip:  Saturday 11/14  from 10am to Noon.  

We will meet at the main entrance,  (79th St. at Central Park West) and then view the following exhibits:

One of the permanent exhibitions and one of the current exhibitions.

Week 9 – 10/29/2009 –  NO CLASS - Field Trip TBA

Field trip site:  American Museum of Natural History

Tentative date for field trip:  Saturday 11/14  from 10am to Noon.  

We will meet at the main entrance,  (79th St. at Central Park West) and then view the following exhibits:

One of the permanent exhibitions and one of the current exhibitions.