Science, Writing and Cross-Curricular Instruction in Adult Education
This fall, I had the opportunity to deliver a series of Fall Institutes on Science and GED Writing Rubrics to Georgia adult education professionals. The two-day training was delivered on four separate occasions across the state. Over 100 professionals attended!
Day one focused on five key science topics that are high emphasis areas on high school equivalency assessments. Ecosystems, Heredity, Cells, Solutions and Newton’s Laws of Motion were explored. I had the wonderful opportunity to model each lesson and facilitate activities the teachers could use in their classrooms. Each lesson began with the building of academic vocabulary using a modified Frayer Model. This academic vocabulary graphic organizer allowed the teachers to play the role of the student and investigate the definition of the word, how it is used in a sentence, pictures or examples of the word and applicable synonyms and antonyms. This produced an entire classroom of word walls for each lesson and was such a joy to see.
In addition to each lesson, participants were given the opportunity to practice writing short answer prompt science questions. For each lesson, participants wrote a prompt that aligned to either a two-dimensional or a three-dimensional rubric. This was quite a challenging activity for most participants and provided many valuable lessons regarding question creation, writing and tying assessment to content.
Overall, participants enjoyed the opportunity to learn as a student would. They explored genetics and Punnett Squares through an activity called “Frankenfish” and conducted experiments on osmosis and acid/base reactions. They explored ecosystems and conducted a series of experiments to demonstrate Newton’s Laws of Motion.
Day two addressed the importance and challenges associated with cross-curricular instruction. Participants had the opportunity to design cross-curricular lessons, creating truly inspiring lessons I cannot wait to try out myself. This was followed by an intensive “game show” style analysis of the GED- constructed response rubrics. Participants read student samples and used the rubrics to guess the score the GED assessment gave that student. The real answer was revealed, details were analyzed, and participants became more familiar with the areas of emphasis and how to provide effective guidance to students to improve their writing. It was an intensive two days full of active learning and hands-on activities.
To ensure participants effectively transferred the knowledge to their classrooms, this training included a series of post-Institute activities. Participants had to implement one of the science lessons, reflect on that implementation, include a corresponding short answer prompt, grade it, and submit student samples along with reflections of the experience. This process will ensure that teachers modify and adjust lessons to best fit their teaching style, knowledge level and student population. Without this critical component, the training wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. The state leadership team in Georgia did a fantastic job of supporting a truly integrated and sustained PD model that if fully implemented, will result in significant improvement in the quality of instruction. Thank you to all of the participants and the Adult Education Professional Development team in Georgia.