Supporting Teacher Learning in New Ways

Presenters: Leema Berland, Suzanna Loper

Two different but complimentary approaches for elementary and secondary teacher support frame this session. Loper shares multimedia educative curriculum materials that support teachers in teaching about scientific argumentation in the context of middle-grades earth and space science units. Berland shares research on student engagement in complex science practices such as argumentation, and explores how classroom culture and teachers influence student work. Both presenters recognize the substantial ways in which instruction must change and the need for innovative supports for teachers.


Leema Berland, Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Leema Berland is an assistant professor of science education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she focuses on facilitating and studying students as they engage in the sensemaking practices of science, such as scientific argumentation, modeling, and explanation, as well as engineering design practices. To that end, Berland has explored how students interpret sensemaking work, how those interpretations influence their participation in the target practices, and why they interpret it in the ways that they do. Each of these questions is designed to better understand the dynamics of how and why students are able (or unable) to productively engage in scientific sensemaking. Recently, she has expanded this work to explore ways to better support preservice teachers in creating learning environments that will enable their future students to participate in the sensemaking practices of science. Her work has been funded via numerous NSF grants and has resulted in publications in Science Education, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Journal of Learning Sciences, and Science Scope. 

Suzanna Loper, Middle School Curriculum Director, Lawrence Hall of Science
Suzanna Loper is the middle school curriculum director for the Learning Design Group at the Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of California, Berkeley, where she leads a team that is creating science curriculum materials designed for the NGSS. This curriculum program, Amplify Science, integrates hands-on investigations and development of literacy skills with innovative use of technology. She also serves as the PI on an NSF grant focused on supporting teachers in teaching about scientific argumentation. This project is a collaboration with Dr. Katherine L. McNeill at Boston College. Loper is the author of a number of teacher’s guides and student books for the Seeds of Science/Roots of Reading elementary science and literacy curriculum program. Before coming to the Lawrence Hall of Science in 2006, she was a middle and high school science teacher in public schools. Loper holds Pa PhD in Science Education from the University of California, Berkeley.