Sensemaking in Elementary Science : Supporting Teacher Learning book cover
1st Edition

Sensemaking in Elementary Science
Supporting Teacher Learning

ISBN 9781138386952
Published November 1, 2019 by Routledge
292 Pages 25 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Grounded in empirical research, this book offers concrete pathways to direct attention towards elementary science teaching that privileges sensemaking, rather than isolated activities and vocabulary. Outlining a clear vision for this shift using research-backed tools, pedagogies, and practices to support teacher learning and development, this edited volume reveals how teachers can best engage in teaching that supports meaningful learning and understanding in elementary science classrooms.

Divided into three sections, this book demonstrates the skills, knowledge bases, and research-driven practices necessary to make a fundamental shift towards a focus on students’ ideas and reasoning, and covers topics such as:

  • An introduction to sensemaking in elementary science;
  • Positioning students at the center of sensemaking;
  • Planning and enacting investigation-based science discussions;
  • Designing a practice-based elementary teacher education program;
  • Reflections on science teacher education and professional development for reform-based elementary science.

In line with current reform efforts, including the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Sensemaking in Elementary Science is the perfect resource for graduate students and researchers in science education, elementary education, teacher education, and STEM education looking to explore effective practice, approaches, and development within the elementary science classroom.

Table of Contents

Working Toward a Vision of Sensemaking in Elementary Science: An Introduction to Sensemaking in Elementary Science: Supporting Teacher Learning, ELIZABETH A. DAVIS, CARLA ZEMBAL-SAUL, AND SYLVIE M. KADEMIAN

SECTION I: Images of the Possible

Chapter 1: Positioning Students at the Center of Sensemaking: Productive Grappling with Data, CARLA ZEMBAL-SAUL AND KIMBER HERSHBERGER

Chapter 2: Portrait of a First-Grade Teacher: Using Science Practices to Leverage Young Children’s Sensemaking in Science, AMBER S. BISMACK AND LEIGH ANN HAEFNER

Chapter 3: Science, Engineering, Literacy, and Place-Based Education: Powerful Practices for Integration, JENNIFER L. CODY AND MANDY BIGGERS

Chapter 4: Literacy Practices for Sensemaking in Science that Promote Epistemic Alignment, LEEANNA HOOPER AND CARLA ZEMBAL-SAUL

Chapter 5: Response: Making Sense of Sensemaking in Elementary Science—Perspectives from Identity and Implications for Equity, LUCY AVRAAMIDOU

Chapter 6: Response: Integrating and Supporting Science Practices in Elementary Classrooms, KATHERINE L. MCNEILL

SECTION II: Promising Practices, Tools, and Frameworks

Chapter 7: Approximations of Practice: Scaffolding for Preservice Teachers, ELIZABETH A. DAVIS

Chapter 8: Planning and Enacting Investigation-based Science Discussions: Designing Tools to Support Teacher Knowledge for Science Teaching, SYLVIE M. KADEMIAN AND ELIZABETH A. DAVIS

Chapter 9: Scaffolding Beginning Teaching Practices: An Analysis of the Roles Played by Tools Provided to Preservice Elementary Science Teachers, SARAH J. FICK AND ANNA MARIA ARIAS

Chapter 10: Using Tools to Notice Student Ideas and Support Student Sensemaking in Rehearsal and Classroom Lesson Reflections, AMANDA BENEDICT-CHAMBERS

Chapter 11: A Framework for the Teaching Practice of Supporting Students to Construct Evidence-Based Claims Through Data Analysis: A Lens for Considering Teacher Learning Opportunities, ANNA MARIA ARIAS

Chapter 12: Response: Scaffolds, Tools, and Transitions Toward Disciplined Improvisation, MATTHEW KLOSER AND MARK WINDSCHITL

SECTION III: Supportive Contexts for Professional Learning

Chapter 13: Designing a Practice-Based Elementary Teacher Education Program and Supporting Professional Learning in Science Teaching, ELIZABETH A. DAVIS, ANNEMARIE S. PALINCSAR, AND SYLVIE M. KADEMIAN

Chapter 14: Learning to Teach Science in an Elementary Professional Development School Partnership, CARLA ZEMBAL-SAUL, BERNARD BADIALI, BRITTANY MUELLER, AND ALICIA M. MCDYRE

Chapter 15: Starting Small: Creating a Supportive Context for Professional Learning that Fosters Emergent Bilingual Children’s Sensemaking in Elementary Science, MEGAN HOPKINS, CARLA ZEMBAL-SAUL, MAY H. LEE, AND JENNIFER L. CODY

Chapter 16: Response: Supporting Elementary Teacher Learning to Teach Science, JAN H. VAN DRIEL

Chapter 17: Response: Two Lenses for Looking at Supportive Contexts for Science Teacher Learning, KATHLEEN ROTH

Conclusion: Reflections on Science Teacher Education and Professional Development for Reform-Based Elementary Science, CORY T. FORBES

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Elizabeth A. Davis is Professor of Science Education at University of Michigan, USA.

Carla Zembal-Saul is the Kahn Professor of STEM Education at The Pennsylvania State University, USA.

Sylvie M. Kademian is Lecturer of Science Education at University of Michigan, USA.


Rigid school curricula emphasizing and assessing low-level skills perpetuate the wildly damaging assumption that elementary learners are incapable of engaging in substantive intellectual work. Sensemaking in Elementary Science offers an aspirational, yet achievable vision for science teaching and teacher education to guide bold changes in the landscape of elementary science. This book will become a well-worn, go-to resource for those working to make high-quality elementary science a reality.
Heidi Carlone, Ph.D., Hooks Distinguished Professor of STEM Education, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro