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FALL 2011 - SEYS 362

SEYS 362 Home

Queens College/CUNY
Education Unit
Fall 2011


SEYS 362 


Methods of Teaching Science in Middle School and High School

 Wednesday 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 135C,

Office Hours: 

Wednesday 2:00 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:

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, ELL 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:

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:

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 and you can order used copies online also.): 

     3.  Supplies and/or tools: None


Please note:  We will visit the American Museum of Natural History on a Saturday (date to de determined) from 10am to Noon to see an exhibit. 

Week 1 – 8/31/2011 -  Overview of course, goals, requirements, field experience and field experience journal ( Class will be online this week due to Hurricane Irene)

Useful web sites:

Assigned readings:

  1. Read Chapter 1 of "Behold the Ostrich"  The link is in the Course documents folder in BlackBoard.  (Don't worry, you can do this week 2 if you have a problem accessing BlackBoard during week 1)
    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 – 9/7/2011 – Gender, Ethnicity, Racism and Science Teaching and Learning/The Nature of Science - Exploring the "Invisible Web"
  • Activities and discussion related to gender, ethnicity, and racism and how they affect science teaching and learning.
  • Diversity, multiculturalism and science teaching and learning

Useful websites:

Gender and Science

Diversity, Multicultural Science

Disabilities and Science Teaching and Learning

Nature of Science

Assigned reading and viewing:

Week 3 – 9/14/2011 –  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: (NY State standards in pdf format)
    4. Review: National Science Education Standards
    5. Bloom's Taxonomy
    6. Bloom's digital taxonomy
    7. How to prepare a lesson plan
    8. Suggested lesson plan format for science lessons
    9. Designing a Unit Plan
    10. Other tools for planning lessons:  uBd, The 5E learning cycle model
    11. Differentiated instruction in Science
    12. Differentiated instruction for science

Class Activities: 

Useful websites:

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

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 - Assignment #1 - Review of a science education article from an NSTA journal

Week 4 – 9/21/2011 –  Assignment #2 - Minilesson 1 - Group microteaching (2 to 4 students teach a ten minute lesson to the class)


The Mystery Object ! More info on the "Mystery Object "

Assigned reading and viewing:

Assignment 1 due - Assignment #1 - Review of a science education article from an NSTA journalView "Investigating Crickets " from "Teaching High School Science"

Assignment 2 due - Minilesson 1 - Group microteaching

Week 5 – 9/28/2011 – No Class

Week 6 – 10/5/2011 - How do students learn science?

Science news:

Tonight's visitor
More info

Learning Theories, Philosophy of Science, Nature of Science

Discussion of Learning theories and science teaching and learning (Please view the screencasts and read the accompanying notes outside of class)


Activity 1: Problem-Based Learning
Activity 2:  Discrepant events, misconceptions, inquiry
Activity 3 - Battery and bulb - Hands-on science inquiry activity to be completed in small groups (write up a lesson plan for the activity using the lesson plan template)

Activity 4 - Login to Science Moodle and complete the learning theory activity

Activity 5 - Construct a concept map
(Pick a topic in the curriculum in your area of certification and draw a concept map.  Exchange concept maps with your colleagues and compare.)  

There are many online tools that can be used to make concept maps.  General purpose tools like sumopaint and flockdraw can be used.  More tools that might be useful are listed below.
Activity 6 - Try the Learning Modalities questionnaire and

Activity 7 - Student learning strengths inventory

Activity 8 - Watch The Learning Classroom: Theory Into Practice

Activity 9 - View the Private Universe video and The Private Universe Project in 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 7 – 10/12/2011 – Traditional and Alternative Assessment in Science

1) Science news, reminders, questions and answers
Finish last week's activities:
2) View the screencasts
3) View the slide presentation

4) Skim the following:
5) Complete Traditional Assessment in Science Activities - Click here for Instructions for Tonight's Activity on Assessment in Science 

Assigned reading/viewing:

Assessment in Math and Science: What's the point?

Read Chapter 9 Assessment of Student Learning

6) PART 2 - Alternative Assessment - (You probably will not have time to finish this in class, so please complete it outside of class by next week and post your results on the Discussion Board in BlackBoard).

Pick a topic  from the Regents Science curriculum in the area you will be teaching.  You could use the same topic that you used last week when constructing a traditional objective test.  Make sure that you pick a topic that you might be teaching next semester.  You could also include this assessment in your unit plan if it is related to your unit plan topic.  
Come up with an idea for an alternative assessment for your topic and post it on the discussion board in BlackBoard.  Make sure to include scoring guidelines or a rubric.  
Visit the "Creating Portfolios with Web 2.0 Tools" web site
Browse through the various tools available.  
After looking at sample electronic portfolios, create an account and start a portolio by adding the assignments you have completed so far in this course.   I strongly recommend that you use Google sites,  to develop your ePortfolio. 
alternative assessment, e.g. developing porfolios
electronic portfolios
Creating meaningful performance assessment
Introduction to scoring rubrics

Assigned reading and viewing:

Week 8 – 10/19/2011 –  Safety in the Science lab, ethical and legal issues in science education, care of organisms


Review Main Points of Traditional assessment
Discuss alternative assessment
What not to do in the lab ..
Useful Links:
Other Useful Science Safety Resources

Assigned reading and viewing:

                                           Assignment #3 due - Science Kit Review(This assignment has been removed)

Week 9 – 10/26/2011 –   Use of Technology in Science Teaching and Learning

Links to explore:

How NOT to learn how to use technology

Assignment #5a due

Week 10 – 11/2/2011 –  Unifying concepts, ways of knowing, methods of inquiry, and important Science, Technology, Society issues. examples from the different science disciplines

Assignment #4 due

Week 11 – 11/9/2011 – Minilesson 2 - Individual Microteaching

Assignment 6 due:  Lesson plan for Individual Minilesson 2 due (for those teaching tonight)

Week 12 – 11/16/2011 - NO CLASS

Assignment 8 due
Assignment 6 due:  Lesson plan for Individual Minilesson 2 due

Field trip site:  American Museum of Natural History

Tentative date for field trip:  Saturday December 3rd  from 10am to Noon.  (Combined)

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 Beyond Planet Earth:  The Future of Space Exploration
Classroom management during science lessons/Reading in science and NSTA Student Chapter/Club meeting 6:30 to 7pm
Useful websites:
Useful Links:

Professional organizations and journals, Science Education Organizations on the Internet
Science fairs


Assignment 7 due
Discuss Controversial Issues in Science and Science Education


Small group activity: List and discuss some important controversies in both science and science education. How would you handle these topics in the classroom?

View the Flock of Dodos video

Big Bang activities (free graph paper! Printable paper rulers)

Evolution related activities

Useful websites:

Week 17 – 12/21/2011 Classroom management, controversial issues in science, and making science learning fun.

(Class will meet from 4pm to 4pm)

We will meet ONLINE.

Click here for instructions for our online class. 

Attendance is mandatory.

Please complete the course evaluation before the last week