‘This is cool stuff’RAES program promotes science
Janet Conrad and Chad Hippen, fourth-grade teachers at Lincoln Elementary, are participating in the Reflective Assessment for Elementary Science (RAES) teachers program.
RAES is a professional development program designed to support elementary teachers to use informative assessments in science, Hippen said. There are four objectives the program is supposed to accomplish. They are promoting effective use of reflective assessment in science instruction; curriculum study for teachers; better engaging elementary students in scientific practices; and promoting the students’ learning of science concepts.
“This is my 17th year of teaching and there’s been a lot of things that have come and gone in the past as far as professional development and stuff we had to do,” Hippen said. “This by far gets me going more than any of them. This is cool stuff.”
Conrad gave an example to the school board at the meeting Wednesday evening on how she uses RAES while teaching science. She is in the middle of teaching the electricity unit in class right now. Students made an electrical circuit using batteries, light bulbs, wires, and bolts. At the end Conrad had her students draw how the circuit worked as part of the reflective assessment.
Only three students didn’t draw the circuit correctly, Conrad said. Before she began using the RAES program most of the class would miss that concept. To correct the students’ misconception, Conrad had them work with her in a small group session. The students compared correct pictures of an electrical circuit to incorrect ones, and she had the students explain what was right or wrong in the picture, Conrad said.
“The thing with this project is, before we started this we would have just gone on, and through doing these reflective assessments we are learning, that many kids don’t get it as we continue,” Conrad said, “and this takes about 15 minutes [the small group session], and now I feel 100 percent that my class gets this concept and is ready to move on.”
There are only four districts in Iowa participating in the three-year project, which includes the Washington, Highland, Iowa City, and Clear Creek Amana School District’s, Hippen said. The program is partnered through the University of Iowa’s College of Education, Grant Wood AEA, and the University of California Berkeley.