the classroom → the details → what teachers say

What do teachers say?

How it has changed their teaching…

"My teaching has totally changed from one where I was directing what was going on. I would lecture mostly with some labs. With the UC Project, it has been more about understanding, finding out what the students understand, the causal structure behind it, and hearing from them. Getting at their ideas and their misconceptions has totally changed the way the climate of the classroom."

teachers sitting at a conference around a table

"…before this project, my teaching was a lot of just touching the surface, covering information—very, very quickly in many cases without students really understanding after they supposedly learned the material. Now, I am finding out at the beginning what students know and don't know, and that has been a tremendous asset to me as a teacher—to have these misconceptions in many cases sort of unearthed or unpacked in the classroom. I get a deeper understanding of these concepts with a variety of methods."

"The hardest thing about incorporating the UC work was letting go…I am a control person as it were, letting myself not have as much control over every single thing that goes on in class. For example, when a student interjects an idea that wasn't part of your plan for that day, letting yourself say okay, maybe he has an idea that we should discuss or follow through with."

Teaching one more thing…

"I think that the UC Program is not an added, extra, lessons, activities, ideas. I see it as incorporating what we teach but just in a different way. To see the students really understanding in a much deeper and more meaningful way, I don't see it as an extra, I see it as just a vital, important way of teaching."

How it has affected students…

teachers at a table

"I think students think differently after being part of this program in that they can take a situation or a concept and really, really think about it, not just learn vocabulary, not just learn formulas, not just learn mixing of chemicals for reactions. Why do things happen? They take that with them throughout life. Why does something occur? I think this program allows them to think on a deeper level, on a more abstract level."

"I think the program has affected all kinds of learners. I understand how your very brightest might get into deep discussions, probing questioning and so on, but I have found, to my surprise, that the students that seem to have a little more difficulty with abstract concepts, really seem to take to the modeling, the activities, the RECAST activities, which are appealing and interesting to them. So, I have been surprised at the complete job that the students have done. I also see a change from the beginning of the year to the end of the year with a lot of the students where they are making connections from one unit to the next, which tells me that they are really understanding what they just learned."

"It has actually made the higher level students listen more to the other segment of the science population in the classroom. It allows students of all different levels to give their ideas, to be respected in the classroom. I find that the higher achieving students have learned from the students who don’t necessarily write the best or do the math the best, but because of this project have been able to tease out some phenomenal ideas. The two groups in classrooms as well as the middle groups have been able to learn in a different way than I have ever seen as a teacher."

"On Friday, I was previewing next week's material with my tutoring kids. We were playing with cards of different animals, plants and decomposers. I drew the sun at the top of a poster board and they were able to correctly identify that the plants should go near the sun because they get energy from the sun. Next they put a row of primary consumers, a row of secondary consumers and then a row of decomposers. Then one of my girls who really struggles with anything academic says, "Look its domino causality." Another girl said, "Yeah, it's not cyclic because it doesn't go back to the beginning." I hadn't even asked them about causality. It was so amazing that these struggling students could really grasp what was going on because of the causality concepts that they have learned. I am so grateful for the work that you have done."

Reactions of students, parents, and colleagues…

"A ninth grader who came back to my class one afternoon and said, "what you taught us last year and how you taught this and the material that the Understandings of Consequence project taught us was hard for me when I went to ninth grade." And I said why, and she said "well, you know, you made us think and ask questions and go deeper and deeper into these meanings of the concepts in science and we are not doing it this year. All we are doing is just straight bookwork and lecturing and taking tests. I really miss thinking like that." And she said, "I feel kind of cheated this year" she said "but I just want to thank you for that particular experience in the eighth grade."

male teacher answering questions

"The reactions that I received from parents are very positive. …those parents who have new students in my classroom come up to me and say I have heard about this program. I really like the idea that you get the kids doing hands on things, discussing things. And those parents who have been part of the program, who come in for open house, are really excited about some of the things that their students have found out. They are amazed that their kids understand what is going on and are very happy that their kids are now understanding scientific concepts, not just learning them."

"The reaction of colleagues has been extremely positive. I know that many times we have conversations with other science teachers and other colleagues in other subject areas. They like what we do. They understand what we do. They would like to do it in their classrooms."