Weber State University professors gathered Jan. 31 to learn how to take science education to the next level at this year’s Teacher Twilight Series.
The event hosted guest speaker Melissa Braaten, associate professor from the University of Colorado, who addressed the need for instructors to use different tools to support sense-making in science and math classrooms.
According to the event’s flyer, Braaten’s research aims to understand how teachers instruct science and math across multiple contexts for professional learning. This includes the pre-service preparation of teachers in coursework and field experiences.
The event turned out to be a sold-out crowd, with a total of 63 professors and community teachers from K-12 schools in attendance.
“I’ve never really been in a room full of this many teachers,” Braaten said. “It was exciting to not only participate, but to engage and listen to their stories.”
The Tomorrow’s Educators Advocating for Math & Science workshop invited Braaten at the recommendation of Professor and Physics Teaching Adviser Adam Johnston, who worked with her for many years.
“The work that she does is focused on how students think, from ages ranging from young to old,” Johnston said.
Braaten’s lecture centered around the idea of making instructors more aware of what they say in class. She explained this through showing two videos of reactions from elementary students of a voice breaking a wine glass.
The teachers grouped in pairs of four to see how everyone explained what they saw in the video. This exercise was to compare the descriptive and communicative abilities of a child compared to an adult.
“I wanted teachers to realize the creativity of what a young mind can say on explaining an experiment and being intrigued to learn more about it,” Braaten said.
Braaten advocates approaches that allow students to engage with concepts rather than memorize answers. She encouraged teachers to utilize this talent by focusing on explaining an event and then letting students respond to evidence, new information and ideas from their peers.
“It’s important to play the role as a learner and teacher and think about that relationship,” Braaten said. “To realize what it means to develop a strong bond between a student and teacher.”