Article written by Mrs. Kempf
On May 7, 2021, students at Burton Street Elementary School shared their science learning with the world! Quite literally, over 100 people from around the world–13 states and 10 countries–tuned into a virtual live research lesson featuring the students in Mrs. Beth Ann Kempf’s first grade classroom. The observers included local school teachers, staff at the Smithsonian Science Education Center, who wrote the curriculum materials, and other members of the American Educational Research Association.
The research lesson was the culmination of a 4-month Lesson Study cycle that a team of teachers from Burton Street participated in with guidance from Dr. Sharon Dotger, an Associate Professor of Science Education at Syracuse University.
In Lesson Study, teams of teachers and administrators spend time studying the learning standards and their curriculum materials to develop a deeper understanding of the content and teaching methods they will use with their students. They write a very detailed research plan to anticipate how their research-informed teaching methods are expected to work with the students when the lesson is taught.
In this Lesson Study cycle, the group focused on ideas about teaching students how to improve their classroom discussions, write in their science notebooks, and use their peers’ ideas, which the teacher writes on the board, to improve their scientific thinking. They then applied what they learned to enhance a science lesson where students were challenged to analyze two models of the moon and determine which was more accurate. During a discussion following the lesson, expert comments were provided by Dr. Terrance Burgess of Michigan State University and Dr. Sarah Glassman of the Smithsonian Science Education Center.
In addition to Mrs. Kempf and Dr. Dotger, the Lesson Study team consisted of Mrs. Christy Allen (Kindergarten), Mrs. Julie Kielbasinski (2nd grade), Mrs. Stefanie Lints (4th grade) from Burton Street, Mrs. Elizabeth Shepard (1st grade) from Bolivar Road Elementary School in Chittenango, and Jennifer Heckathorn, a doctoral student at Syracuse University.