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Peer Review

Physical Science - Essential Science for Teachers



Overall Rating:

5 stars
Content Quality: 5 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jul 01, 2008 by Teacher Education
Overview: One of a series of three courses for K-6 teachers providing a conceptual and pedagogical framework for physical science standards. There are three media options in which the eight one-hour sessions can be taken. Course includes a website and an online interactive community for participants (called Channel-Talk). Content of course is presented using a variety of strategies including demonstrations, animations, still graphics, interviews with scientists and school children, and a teacher teaching the physical science topic with exemplary curricula. These courses will help teachers better understand the science concepts that underlie the content that they teach.
Learning Goals: From the item description: The sessions include a video program addressing a topic area related to matter that is likely to be part of any elementary school science curriculum. Essential Science for Teachers: Physical Science also focuses on the ideas that children bring to the classroom about these topics. Children in a clinical setting are interviewed and observed to uncover their thinking. The research literature shows that their ideas are typical of students in the K-6 age group. Each session also features one or more elementary school classrooms where a teacher and her students explore the topic using exemplary curriculum materials. Physical Science strives to provide participants not only with enhanced content understandings, but also with understandings of how this content connects to the elementary school classroom.
Target Student Population: Teachers and teacher candidates. Parents who are providing home-school curricula for their children.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None. Anyone could benefit from the information in this collection.
Type of Material: Lecture/Presentation
Recommended Uses: Teacher inservice and professional development. Review for State exams for teacher candidates.
Technical Requirements: Web browser, media player.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: Annenberg PCB is at the forefront of science education materials for educators. The content of the website is of critical importance to all teachers of science regardless of grade level. The concepts are clearly outlined and portrayed in easy to understand language. The video coverage enhances each concept with examples that are relevant and valuable. Included are 8 topic sessions of critical importance in physical science. Each includes an introduction including the goals for the course, A closer look with an accompanying video of approximately an hour in length, Children's ideas, A featured class, and Interactive feedback pages for participants.
Concerns: Some material seems advanced for elementary teachers of primary grades. For example, topics such as “essential” versus “ accidental” properties of matter, application of the law of conservation of matter to atoms and molecules, and electrical properties of matter are challenging topics for students who are likely not cognitively “ready” for abstract concepts requiring use of the scientific thinking skill of “inferring.”

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: The strength of the Physical Science - Essential Science for Teachers is exhibited best through their exemplary videos. Each concept is presented with direct examples for implementation in the classroom. Teachers' knowledge and their ability to share that knowledge with their students will be greatly enhanced through this media. It is very refreshing to see that their label for one of the components is "Children's ideas", which is used instead of using the term "Children's misconceptions". It is a small point, but seems paramount as we peek into a child's world and seek to address their levels of understanding.
Concerns: Although a moving dial shows the amount of time that has lapsed in the video, it would have also been helpful if the website describing the outline of the video, had indicated specific time frames for segments. For example, rather than writing, “The video opens with a conversation….” and “The program continues with the Science Studio….”, why not show the opening conversation as running between 00:00—05:32 and the Science Studio interview running between 05:32—10:15? As a teaching tool, this would make the video even more “usable” in a college setting in which showing certain segments (e.g., only the Science Studio interviews) may meet the learning goals the best.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This site is exemplary in its use of color, picture and text. It has eye-catching appeal and ease of use. The labels are easy to understand, intuitive, and compelling. The videos are clear and have excellent sound quality.
Concerns: Satellite TV broadcast dates and times on the Annenberg Channel are only reported in Eastern daylight time. Would be helpful to also include other time zones.

Other Issues and Comments: Many teachers look for activities or lesson plans, without seeking to understand the science content for themselves. Seeking to understand scientific information is sometimes a really difficult leap for elementary teachers. Using this medium for overcoming those obstacles to science content mastery is an ideal way to overcome that challenge. The participating teachers will need to know that it will be necessary to block out at least an hour of time for each concept area. This will allow them to view the entire video without interruption. Media player allows the tape to be started and stopped, but viewing each video from beginning to end in one sitting will enhance the learning experience. Optional graduate credit can be earned for completion of these modules through Southern Oregon University. Link is posted on the Physical Science- Essential Science for Teachers site.