OCTOBER 23, 2006

0-3 min-Start:          Announcements:

            Attendance/ Sign In

            WISTR Research Opportunity for 2 teachers

(participate in physics/aqua based research, have a class coach, get 3 graduate credits from WestConn).

3-6 min -Quarterly Assessments:

            Teacher copies available today. Teachers make class copies.

            Scantrons available today. By school/class. Extra Blanks.

            Give assessments Oct 28-Nov 9. One period. 10 mc, 4 essays.

            Key/rubric available today. Keep secure.

            Teachers score essays. Enter scores online.Return by Nov. 15.

            Review questions/rubrics as part of break out group.


6-28 min Professional Topic of the Day:

                        Misconceptions:      Discussion/Notes


28- 75 min Break Out Tables: By Group/Grade.


            Using the state standards/performances for your grade level:

            As a group, identify the key misconceptions that students would have about these topics.

            Identify WHY they might have these misconceptions.

            Identify the experiences a teacher might provide to allow students to break these misconceptions.

            Leave notes for supervisor to assimilate and review.

            Also: gather master copy of assessment, scantrons, and scoring rubric for your school.

Richard Therrien

K-12 Science Supervisor

New Haven Schools

54 Meadow Street, 3rd Floor

New Haven, CT 06519

Phone: 203-946-7933

Fax:      203-946-8664



Review video “A Private Universe”.


            Discuss misconceptions in science.


            Come from:

                                    Real World Experiences (example: friction)

                                    Bad diagrams. (example: earth orbit)

                                    Abstractions/Generalizations/Simplifications. (example: living things move, rocks are either metamorphic or igneous, a substance is a solid or a liquid)

                                    Analogies: (electricity as water)

                                    Models: (electrons go in orbits)

Vocabulary without context, different scientific meaning

“energy makes it go” “glaciers retreat”

                                    Sayings/myths “lightning never strikes twice in the same place”

                                    Plain bad facts. (evolution is impossible, heavier things fall faster)


Links to research on constructivism: how students learn science. They use their own experiences to construct their meaning and model of explanation of the world. Despite our “teaching”, students revert back to their models even if they have memorized ours. To overcome their deep misconceptions


-They must become dissatisfied with their existing conditions. (why is my explanation wrong?)

-The scientific conception must be intelligible. (Oh, this makes sense)

-The scientific conception must appear plausible. (This agrees with my experiences)

-The scientific conception must be useful in a variety of new situations. (I can use this to predict things)


If teachers are to improve students' science conceptions we must recognize that:

-students come to science class with ideas,

-students' ideas are often different from scientists,

-students' preconceptions are strongly held,

-traditional instruction (rote learning) will not lead to substantial conceptual change, and

effective instructional strategies enable teachers to teach for conceptual change and understanding.

The key to altering the ideas, explanations, and conceptions of science that students possess is to find out and use what students already know. The challenge of teaching science is to ensure that you do not leave intact students' alternative conceptions or fill students with ideas and explanations which have little chance of being understood.


“While growing up, children are told by adults that the "sun is rising and setting," giving them an image of a sun that moves about the earth. In school, students are told by teachers (years after they have already formed their own mental model of how things work) that the earth rotates. Students are then faced with the difficult task of deleting a mental image that makes sense to them, based on their own observations, and replacing it with a model that is not as intuitively acceptable. This task is not trivial, for students must undo a whole mental framework of knowledge that they have used to understand the world.”




-Abd-El-Khalick, F., Boujaoude, S., Duschl, R., Lederman, N. G., Mamlok-Naaman, R., Hofstein, A., et al. (2004). Inquiry in science education: International perspectives. Science Education, 88(3), 397-419

-Abdullah, A., Scaife, J. (1997). Using interviews to assess children's understanding of science concepts. School Science Review, 78(285), 79-84

-Abraham, M. R., Grzybowski, E. B. , Renner, J. W. , Marek, E. A. (1992). Understandings and misunderstandings of eighth graders of five chemistry concepts found in textbooks. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 29(2), 105-120

-A Private Universe. 1989. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Trowbridge, J. E. and J. J. Mintzes. 1988.

-Dykstra, Jr., D. I., Boyle, C. F., & Monarch, I. A. (1992). Studying conceptual change in learning physics. Science Education 76 (6), 615 - 652.

-Proceedings of the Second International Seminar on Misconceptions and Educational Strategies in Science and Mathematics. Ithaca, N. Y.:Cornell University.

Peters, P. 1982.

-Saari, H., Viiri, J. (2003). A research-based teaching sequence for teaching the concept of modelling to seventh-grade students. International Journal of Science Education, 25(11), 1333-1352

-Sadler, P. M. (1993). Teachers' misconceptions of their students' learning. In J. Novak (Ed.), Proceedings of the Third International Seminar on Misconceptions and Educational Strategies in Science and Mathematics. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University

-Sadler, P. (1998). Psychometric models of student conceptions in science: Reconciling qualitative studies and distractor-driven assessment instruments. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(3), 265-296 // g5,g6,P,AT.

-Southerland, S., Kittleson, J., Settlage, J., & Lanier, K. (2005). Individual and group meaning-making in an urban third grade classroom: Red fog, cold cans, and seeping vapor. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 42(9), 1032-1061

-Tobin, K. (1990). Conceptualizing teaching roles in terms of metaphors and beliefs sets. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the America Educational Research Association, Boston.

-Tobin, K. (2005). Building enacted science curricula on the capital of learners. Science Education, 89(4), 577-594

-Wheatley, G. H. (1991). Constructivist perspectives on science and mathematics learning. Science Education, 75(1):9-21.


Some Web Resources:

-Proceedings of the Fourth International Seminar on Misconceptions:

-Private Universe Project In Science

-Minds Of Our Own Series

-Science Misconceptions Page

-Science Teaching Reconsidered Handbook