Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Physical Science: Session 5

Tina Grotzer; Arlington, MA

Tina Grotzer

“You can't understand the nature of density without understanding matter. You can't understand air pressure, and all of the weather-related phenomena around air pressure, without understanding matter. There's just so much that builds upon it, I would call it one of the most fundamental and generative concepts that we can teach students.”

School at a Glance:
Thompson Elementary School
Arlington, MA

  • Grades: K-5
  • Enrollment: 323
  • Students per Teacher: 20
  • Ethnicity:
    76% White
    12% Asian
    7% African American
    5% Hispanic
  • Percentage of students receiving free or reduced-price lunch: 23% versus a state average of 29%

Nestled in the heart of East Arlington, Massachusetts, the Thompson School is one of seven elementary schools in the district that science specialist Nadine Solomon visits on a regular basis. In addition to working with the students and modeling lessons for teachers, she occasionally invites science education researchers like Tina Grotzer into classrooms.

Tina has had a long-term relationship with the Arlington Public Schools. She was a teacher in the system for many years, the coordinator of an elementary academic enrichment program, a teacher professional developer, and is now a researcher. As a researcher, Tina developed the Understandings of Consequences Project at Project Zero, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The Understandings of Consequences Project addresses the difficulties that students have in understanding cause and effect and how that influences their learning of scientific concepts. The curriculum that grew out of the project focuses particularly on the “non-obvious” causes of macroscopic phenomena, like rising and sinking, by making concepts like density more obvious.

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