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SEPUP Product Training

Professional Development

Although SEPUP programs are written for “off the shelf” use, most teachers tell us that professional development from our certified SEPUP trainers has greatly enhanced their use of the materials. Training, which is conveniently available in half- and full-day increments, can be pro- vided on all SEPUP products, courses, units and modules. All SEPUP certified trainers are skilled and experienced classroom teachers as well as very effective presenters. Training is available either on-site or on a regional basis, and can be scheduled during the academic year, or in the summer.

The following topics are covered in depth:

Course Design

The SEPUP program uses environmental and societal issues to provide a context for learning science in a way that connects science concepts to students’ everyday lives. Beginning with a basic challenge that motivates and engages students, activities are carefully sequenced to develop a foundation of basic skills and knowledge which in turn are utilized for further exploration and application. The SEPUP approach is inquiry-driven and standards-based. Teachers will learn to use the four important elements of a SEPUP course: student book, teacher’s guide, materials kit, and website support.

Classroom Management

This phase of SEPUP training encompasses day-to-day topics such as Getting Started with SEPUP, Using the Equip- ment Kit, and Getting Students “Ready” for SEPUP. Also covered are Effective Management of Student Laboratory Activities, Using Science Notebooks, Lab Safety, Monitoring Student Group Work, Effective Use of Technology in SEPUP, and using post activity discussions to further develop the students’ science learning.

Content, Literacy, Numeracy

Professional Development

In addition to pedagogy, SEPUP training includes sessions on how to present and develop student understanding of relevant science content. Complementing the student print materials is the teacher’s guide, a strong source of con- tent. For new, lateral entry or crossover teachers, the content session is especially helpful. Furthermore, since SEPUP does not always present the science content in traditional ways, this information is also helpful for teachers. Many SEPUP activities develop strong mathematical skills and reasoning as well as access the NCTM standards, and these are explicitly addressed. SEPUP has developed a variety of tools to help teach literacy skills through science;; these tools are described later in detail in the literacy workshop description below.


The approach to assessment developed by the Science Education for Public Understanding Program (SEPUP) has gained national attention, receiving citations in Knowing What Students Know (National Academy Press, 2002) and Classroom Assessment and the National Science Education Standards (National Research Council, 2001), among others. It will be used as a representative exemplar program. Teachers will be introduced to the main elements in the system, and how it works as a whole. Using the SEPUP system, students complete tasks, producing student work that can be scored using rubrics developed for six major areas: Content Un- derstanding, Designing Investigations, Using Evidence, Analyzing Data, Communicating Scientific Information, and Group Interaction. The assessment opportunities are distributed over time, allowing teachers to monitor student pro-

Inquiry Teaching and Learning

Professional Development

Over the years, robust research literature has developed supporting the use of inquiry-based approaches in the sci- ence classroom. This research has had important policy implications, underscored by the fact that support for inquiry can now be found in the language of most national and state science education standards. However, putting it into practice has proven elusive thus far. What should inquiry teaching and learning look like in the classroom? Ask a hundred teachers, and you may get a hundred different answers. Common agreement on what inquiry is or looks like in the classroom – an important first step in defining and improving teacher practices – is often hard to come by.

The training begins by asking participants to examine common myths about inquiry. By examining what inquiry isn’t, participants can confront and re- fine their beliefs and practice. Materials from Inquiry and the National Sci- ence Education Standards, published by the National Research Council (NRC, 2001), are then used to develop a common understanding of in- quiry...using the five essential elements of inquiry as defined by the NRC:

  • Learners are engaged by scientifically oriented questions
  • Learners give priority to evidence, which allows them to develop and evaluate explanations for their scientific cally oriented questions
  • Learners formulate explanations from evidence to address scientifically oriented questions
  • Learners evaluate their explanations in light of alternative explanations, particularly those reflecting scientific understanding
  • Learners communicate and justify their proposed explanations

Selected representative materials from the Science Education for Public Understanding Program (SEPUP) will be used to illustrate and develop key topics, using techniques from the life, physical and earth sciences. Participants will develop an understanding of the difference between open and guided inquiry teaching – and when each type is most appropriate. Participants will also learn how to use criteria from the Inquiry Standards to evaluate their own lessons as well as local science instructional materials.

Supporting Literacy in the Science Classroom

Every science lesson is also a language lesson. Learning the specialized language of science is an important step in learning science. Strip away the specialized lexicon of biology, for example – osmosis, mitosis, ecosystem, virus – and what is left? Science uses words that we don’t use in everyday life...such as mole, quark and epithelium. Science also has special mean- ings for words we do use everyday...such as power, wave and field. Fur- thermore, science uses special logical connectives, such as “essentially,” “inversely” and “similarly” – words which describe relationships between concepts and pose a subtle, but special problem. If students do not correctly understand the connection, they may fail to properly perceive the relation- ship between the concepts.

Language is a major barrier to learning science, whether students are native speakers or not. This workshop will provide many practical strategies for overcoming these barriers in the class- room. Beginning with participating teachers’ own ideas, workshop leaders will present effective techniques and tools to help develop student competency in reading comprehension, written language, oral presentation and media view- ing. Teachers will take home strategies for literacy development that are research-based and classroom proven, using activities that are motivating, engaging and fun. Selected representative materials from the Science Education for Public Understanding Program (SEPUP) will be used to illustrate and develop key topics and techniques from the life, physical and earth sciences.


SEPUP Issues and Science

Body Works



Force and Motion

Plate Tectonics

Rocks and Minerals

New York City Correlations



SEPUP works. In our pre-service science teacher training program at Buffalo State College, we use SEPUP activities to show students how science should be taught: in an interactive, inquiry-oriented manner which stresses active student involvement. In my visits to many middle school classrooms over the years, I have also seen how SEPUP can adapt to a variety of teaching styles and modes of classroom management. The extensive national field-testing of all SEPUP courses and modules builds validity and reliability into the final product."

Dr. Robert E. Horvat,
Professor Emeritus
Buffalo State College
Buffalo, NY


"Science and Sustainability has changed the way I teach - students no longer ask, "when will I ever use this?' because they see the direct connection between science and their world."

Donna Parker, Teacher
Oak Hill (OH) High School