Professional Development for Teachers Leads to Excellent Outcomes, Sparking New Beliefs and Attitudes

According to research highlighted in “The Effects of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) on Teaching Practices: An Instrumental Case Study” by Dr. Tracy Leann Waters of Northeastern University, teachers and students alike are transformed when districts adopt KnowAtom curriculum with its focus on inquiry, discovery and professional development.

Professional development helps science teachers engage with new standards and spark greater student interest. While professional development opportunities sometimes fall short when it comes to implementing new science curriculum, KnowAtom supports teachers adopting Next Generation Science Standards in classrooms across the United States. When teachers and administrators partner with KnowAtom, learning outcomes improve, educators can update traditional beliefs about teaching practices and professional development opportunities flourish.

Professional Development for Teachers on Student Centered Learning

A Substantive Science Curriculum Opens the Door to Excellent Outcomes

Incorporating a strong focus on professional and student development, the KnowAtom curriculum was crafted to support the skills of both teachers and learners.

Teachers participating in the study said how KnowAtom helps teachers become “facilitators of learning rather than givers of information,” giving students more responsibility for mastering new concepts. Likewise, students are encouraged to collaborate and participate more, rather than passively absorbing information. Classrooms transform into real-world laboratories where everyone is a scientist.

Adopting KnowAtom curriculum has led to notable changes: improved test scores, expanded academic vocabulary, better classroom behavior and more engagement. These sustainable outcomes support science education in elementary and middle school for generations to come.

Teaching Curriculum Designed for NGSS Sparks New Attitudes and Beliefs

The KnowAtom curriculum studied by researchers was designed for mastery of Next Generation Science Standards but can also serve as a catalyst to transform teacher practices and traditional beliefs about those teaching practices, according to the research.

When teachers are encouraged through new training and standards to bring journaling, multiple sources, open-ended questions and discussions into the classroom, students engage in new skills and more experiential learning. In turn, teachers enjoy more time to differentiate instruction for students and connect science to other subjects for a well-rounded learning experience.

Shifting to a learner-centered approach with the support of ongoing professional development opportunities, teachers have updated their methodology and many long-held beliefs about science education. Exploration and evidence-based solutions using real phenomena become the context for learning, for example, often replacing memorization and summative assessment of rote information.

While documenting paradigm shifts in science education, the study noted that teachers had successfully shifted teaching methods from memorization to exploration. KnowAtom supports this transition and helps partners adopt the “new active vision of science education” that focuses on developing student’s thinking skills.

District Leadership Adopts KnowAtom for Trusted Professional Development

Professional development is critical if districts want to make real and lasting change in their science curriculum. The research indicates that a new model of professional development incorporating a unique model of peer observation and reflection on teacher practices, called “Science Champs”, was especially successful in creating meaningful transformation.

KnowAtom effectively partnered with district administrators to create a sustainable and trusted network of in-district professional development specialists who could bring their knowledge back to their schools and support the ongoing professional development of others in the district. This model positioned trusted teachers as a support to help their peers update teaching methods, curriculum and areas of focus while spurring meaningful change in science education district wide.

By partnering with KnowAtom, districts can transition to the NGSS with supportive professional development and transformative teacher leadership opportunities, new attitudes and beliefs, and improved and sustainable outcomes.