Dana Center Presents at CAST 2016 in San Antonio, Texas

What We Do

The Dana Center supports educators in strengthening instructional practices to improve student achievement in mathematics and science. We offer practical, research-driven solutions to meet your needs.

Great to See You at CAST 2016

We’re all back safely from CAST 2016, held November 10–12 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Dana Center professional learning facilitators Shelly LeDoux, Tracey Ramirez, and Barbara Taylor presented on topics ranging from innovation configuration maps, scientific argumentation, and performance tasks to systems approaches in elementary science education.

We were happy to connect with so many of you at these sessions. Since there was so much interest in our formative assessment books, we’re posting a sample activity from each, along with links to purchase the resource in print or DVD format.

If you’re interested in purchasing 30 books or more, contact Brian Newsom to learn about a special Dana Center offer that also includes a full day of professional development. This offer expires March 1, 2017.

Visit our Webstore for Textbooks and DVDs

Formative Assessment Activities for Middle School Science
Book Sample
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Life Science Textbook for Middle School
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Earth and Space Science Textbook for Middle School

 

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Activities for High School Chemistry

 

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Formative Assessment Activities for High School Biology Textbook

 

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Dana Center Staff Members Session Materials Now Available

Innovation Configuration Maps to Improve Teaching and Learning

Dana Center staff member Shelley LeDoux

Shelley LeDoux

Presented by: Shelly LeDoux
Date & Time: November 10, 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Meeting Room Level, Room 224
Grade Level: K–5

Innovation Configuration (or IC) Maps are descriptive documents that provide clarity for educators by detailing the how and what of teaching and learning. IC maps are valuable tools for developing a common understanding — and language — for collaborative dialogue to improve science instruction.

Collecting and examining information about teaching and learning enables educators to refine and adjust as they progress toward a more strongly aligned instructional program and greater student achievement. In this session, you will examine how IC maps support understanding of students’ use of the research-based scientific practices that promote deep conceptual understanding and connections to prior and future learning.

Session Materials:
Slides
IC Map

 

Biology STAAR Stations: Out of the Box Assessment Activities

Dana Center staff member Barbara Taylor

Barbara Taylor

Presented by: Barbara Taylor
with a kit from Ward’s Science
Date & Time: November 11, 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM
Room: River Level, Room 008
Grade Level: High School

Have you prepared your students for success on the biology end-of-course exam? Join the award- winning team from the Charles A. Dana Center at The University of Texas at Austin as they help you engage in hands-on biology assessment activities. In this session, you’ll preview the full set of activities covered in the Dana Center’s Formative Assessment Activities for High School Biology that enable your students to review content from all 16 biology readiness standards that are tested on the end-of-course exam.

Ward’s Science offers a kit that includes color station cards and the hands-on materials you need to conduct these activities. One lucky attendee will walk away with a complete Ward’s Science STAAR station kit. Improve student achievement and have some extra fun teaching biology.

Session Materials:
Slides

 

TSELA Presents: Fostering Scientific Argumentation in the Elementary Classroom

Dana Staff Faculty Member Tracey Ramirez

Tracey Ramirez

Presented by: Tracey Ramirez
Date & Time: November 11, 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Room: Meeting Room Level, Room 207A
Grade Level: Elementary (Pre-K–2), Elementary (3–5)

Teaching elementary students to construct explanations and engage in argumentation in science can seem daunting for science educators, but young students can learn to participate in meaningful discourse when they have the instructional support they need. This session will look at questions including, “What strategies can teachers use to help students take part in meaningful conversations?” and “How can these conversations help students construct thoughtful explanations?”

In this session, you will explore instructional strategies that provide support for students as they learn to engage in scientific argumentation, and use claims, evidence, and reasoning to construct explanations of the world around them.

According to the National Science Education Standards, students should have the opportunity to use scientific inquiry and develop the ability to think and act in ways associated with inquiry, including

  • asking questions,
  • planning and conducting investigations,
  • using appropriate tools and techniques to gather data,
  • thinking critically and logically about relations between evidence and explanations,
  • constructing and analyzing alternative explanations, and
  • communicating scientific arguments.

Becoming familiar with the language and syntax of this type of discourse is critical for students, and teachers can use a variety of strategies and modeling to foster an environment of scientific argumentation.

Session Materials:
Slides
Questions

 

Using Performance Tasks to Find Out What They Know!

Dana Center staff member Barbara Taylor

Barbara Taylor

Presented by: Barbara Taylor
Date & Time: November 11, 2:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Room Level, Room 206A
Grade Level: Middle School (6–8)

How well do your students really understand the science that you just taught?

Objective tests give us some information; however, there is nothing like a performance task to give us a more complete picture of what students think and understand.

Performance tasks should be designed to provide teachers and students with opportunities to clearly identify strengths and areas that need additional instruction. Students’ performance on these activities will give you valuable insights into how well they understand the content, which will guide you in adjusting instruction to improve student achievement. This workshop will focus on the use of performance tasks as formative assessment tools.

Session Materials
Slides
Hurricane Activity
Hurricane Rubric
Force and Motion Activity
Force and Motion Reference

 

Modeling in Biology

Dana Center staff member Shelley LeDoux

Shelley LeDoux

Presented by: Shelly LeDoux
Date & Time: November 11, 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Room: Ballroom Level, Room 305
Grade Level: High School

Scientific models are representations of systems that make principal characteristics evident and testable.

Scientists use conceptual models to explain and predict natural phenomena and improve understanding of complex systems.

Modeling also allows learners to mediate their ideas as they grapple with scientific theories and empirical data. In this session, you will examine modeling of biological phenomena and consider how productive engagement in modeling allows students to make sense of their learning and express what they know, think, and imagine.

Session Materials
Slides

 

All Systems Go! Using a Systems Approach in Elementary Science

Dana Staff Faculty Member Tracey Ramirez

Tracey Ramirez

Presented by: Tracey Ramirez
Date & Time: November 12, 8:30 AM to 9:30 AM & (repeat session) 11:30 AM to 12:30 PM
Room: Meeting Room Level, Room 206A (both sessions)
Grade Level: Elementary (Pre-K–2), Elementary (3–5)

Seven crosscutting concepts are identified and described in the National Research Council’s A Framework for K–12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. These crosscutting concepts, called “recurring themes” in the TEKS, are important in science because they can help students connect knowledge from the various disciplines of science into a coherent and scientifically based view of the world. When science instruction is grounded in these concepts, students gain a coherent understanding of scientific ideas.

In this session, you will engage in hands-on investigations focused on the crosscutting concept of systems and system models. Using a systems approach will give you the opportunity to experience how crosscutting concepts deepen students’ understanding of science concepts while providing a way to connect to prior, current, and future learning in science.

Note: The 8:30 am session of “All Systems Go!” replaces the previously scheduled “Using Formative Assessment to Evaluate Student Thinking.”

Session Materials
Slides

 

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