You are here

Launching Learners in Science, PreK-5

Launching Learners in Science, PreK-5
How to Design Standards-Based Experiences and Engage Students in Classroom Conversations

December 2006 | 240 pages | Corwin
Teaching science is as much about learning what it means to do science as it is about the pedagogy of teaching. Launching Learners in Science provides both theoretical and practical ideas surrounding the teaching and learning of science. Providing opportunities for teachers to observe, share, experiment, organize, and hypothesize about science content, this resource also focuses on the students and the kind of science instruction they receive.

Kerry C. Williams and George E. Veomett describe the principles of and requirements for the active learning of science and identify key ingredients for students and their development as young scientists. Educators will find examples, questions, and stories inviting them to construct meaning from the text. Based largely on the High/Scope preschool project as adapted for primary students, the book connects to research on cognitive and neural development and motivational theory from the work of Piaget and Vygotsky, and from the teaching experiences of the authors.

Based on the perspective that the teaching of science is about three things: knowing content, knowing children, and teachers knowing themselves as teachers and learners, this handbook invites educators to think about what it means to teach science in a way that will make a lasting difference in children's lives.

About the Authors
Part I. Welcome to 'Launching Learners in Science'
1. Origin of 'Launching Learners in Science'
Knowing Science

Knowing Children and How They Learn

Knowing Structures That Facilitate Learning and Teaching Science

Changing Emphases

Outline of the NSES Science Content Standards

I. Unifying Concepts and Processes

IIA. Science as Inquiry

IIIB. Physical Science Content Standards

IIIC. Life Science Standards

IVD. Earth and Space Science

VE. Science and Technology

VIF. Science in Personal and Social Perspective

Conversation Starters

2. The Nature of Science
What Is the Nature of Science?

Science as a Body of Knowledge

Sciences as Process

Elements of the Scientific Process

A Historical Example

Science as Process in Elementary School

Reviewing the Nature of Science in Elementary Education

Conversation Starters

3. Prior Beliefs, Efficacy, and Teaching Science
Influence of Experiences and Beliefs on Practice


Reflecting on the Walls of Teaching Science

Getting Around the Walls

Wall #1: I Do Not Know Enough Science Content

Wall #2: Students Need to Know the "Right Answers"

Wall #3: I Don't Have Time to Teach Science

@all #4: Active Science Lessons Disrupt My Classroom Management

Reflecting on Your Own Science Walls

Conversations Starters

Part II. Construction Ahead! Influences on Learning
4. Maturation and Learning
Constructing Knowledge

Piaget: The Interaction of Maturation and Experience

Assimilation and Accommodation

Equilibrium / Disequilibrium

Stages of Cogitive Development

Conversation Starters

5. Social Interaction and Learning
Vygotsky and Social Interaction



The Teacher's Role: Personal Educator

Optimum Learning: The Zone of Proximal Development

Identifying Students' Zones of Proximal Development

Scaffolding: Stretching Without Pulling

The Right Amount of Interaction

The Controlling Guide

The Dispassionate Guide

The Effective Guide

Social Interaction With Peers

Conversation Starters

6. Active Learning
Active Learning: Hands-On, Minds-On

The Emotional Side of Active Learning

The Ingredients for Active Learning





Adult Support

Conversation Starters

Part III. Classroom Experiences
7. Key Science Experiences
The Key Science Experiences

A Wheel of Key Science Experiences




Detecting Patterns and Questioning



Putting It All together

The Key Science Experiences and Maturation

Scaffolding for the Teacher

Conversation Starters

8. Thinking Routines
Getting "In To" the Learning in the Classroom

Staying Active in the Learning

Going Deeper Within the Learning

Why Use Thinking Routines?

Maturation and Thinking Routines

Scaffolding Within Thinking Routines

Scaffolding With Language

Scaffolding With Tools

Scaffolding With the Environment

Gathering Your Balloons

Conversation Starters

9. Planning Science Workshops
What Is a Science Workshop?

Whole-Group Instruction

Thinking About Creating Workshops

A Sample Workshop Unit

Scaffolding Within Workshops

Scaffolding Content

Scaffolding for Student Needs: Differentiation

Scaffolding the Key Science Experiences

Tips for Getting Started With Workshops

Why Workshops?

Creating Your Own Workshops -- A Checklist

Before a Unit

Before a Workshop

Conversation Starters

Part IV. Science Is a Community Affair
10. Assessment
Formative Assessment

Features of Formative Assessment

Formative Assessment and Motivation

Task Orientation and Ego Involment

Tools of Formative Assessment

Helping Students Self-Assess

Questioning as a Type of Formative Assessment

Anecdotal Note Taking

Student Journals



Summative Assessments

The Why of Assessing

Conversation Starters

11. Access to Science in a Classroom
Science Studios

Access to Science

Access to Materials

Types of Materials

Collecting and Organizing Materials

Why Is Access to Materials Important?

Supporting Students' Work With Materials

Access to Science Spaces

Physical Space

Emotional Safety

Adequate Time for Investigation

Celebrations of Accomplishments

Access to People

Support From Teachers

Collaboration With Peers

Family Involvement

Community Resources

Access to the World


Field Trips

The Great Outdoors

The Best of Both Worlds: Laboratories and Studios for Children

Conversation Starters

12. Connections to Curriculum
Your Foundation: The Science Curriculum

Study Your District Objectives

Plan Units Around the Objectives

The Next Layer: Integration

Making the Curriculum Your Own

Conversation Starters

Part V. Resources
Resource A: Safety
Safety in the Classroom

Safety and Active Learning

Some "Absolute Musts"

Resource B: Literature
Children's Literature


"Expertly describes how educators can plan a science curriculum that facilitates primary students’ understandings, skills, and affective development of science, preparing them for careers requiring any level of scientific knowledge and giving them science literacy to make decisions that benefit society and the world."

Robert D. Sweetland, Professor
Wayne State College

"Has a brilliantly effective, yet conversational style that engages the reader, offers content that is easy to grasp, and makes sense to all beginning and veteran teachers seeking to understand constructive pedagogy. Not a how to do book, rather a how to think book that provides solid information about thought processes and approaches to learning."

Rae Johnson Brown, Learning Community Facilitator, Secondary Education
Wayne State College

Kerry E. Curtiss Williams

George E. Veomett

Purchasing options

Please select a format:

ISBN: 9781412937030
ISBN: 9781412937023