The teachers' professional development

The analysis of the teachers’ professional development was mainly based on an analysis of the audio-recorded meetings using the results presented above, to examine both what the teachers said and what they actually accomplished. The discussions during the first meetings are mainly about the screening and the results found. In the meeting on February 25, variation theory was used as a framework when planning how to measure pH-level, which was made in the beginning of Lesson A. The teachers and researcher discussed how to make the students understand that water can be acidified even if it looks like ordinary water. They discussed a pattern of variation in which the aspect of having the liquid be water is constant and the measured pH-level varies. They tried to figure out how to acidify the water without making it look different from a similar cup of water that is not acidified. In that way, the only aspect that varies is the pH-level, while the rest are invariant and kept in the background.

Excerpt 1 (T - teacher, R - researcher)

T2: But if we could add anything which loses its colour, what it could be? If you put anything into a beaker and then you add water, we talk about how water’s neutral?

R: But they must measure it first and show the result - that it is

the same.

T2: ...and then...

R: You add something that is not visible...

T2: ...and there is a change, and it should be put... to when they see that there is a change. Or what?

R: So, how the water looks will not change.

T2: No, but it’s in the water...

Tl: ...a drop of vinegar cannot be seen

T2: No, but it may well affect anything that is in the water. I did, for example, I decolourised silver... once [...]

R: They have to look as if it is the same water, the water does not

change...

T2: ... the water does not change, but what is added makes a

difference, so if they can see if anything changes when something invisible is added into one of the cups...

R: ...although they do not see anything changing, something very

significant has happened...

T2: ...which becomes clear if they just measure, yeah, yeah.

At the next meeting, March 11, when the team was planning lesson B, patterns of variation were discussed again to enhance the students’ understanding of how different aspects (human, nature and society) are related to each other and all have an impact on the carbon dioxide cycle, instead of seeing only one of the aspects as the main cause of imbalance:

Excerpt 2

77: Yes, I believe in this, we vary thus, I think we should compare different systems and...

R: Yes, it is the same type of cycles. [...]

T2: ... but something like society, man, the impact on each other

R: Get the students to see the connection and make conclusions...

information with the aim of trying to get an understanding of how human, nature and society influence one another.

Tl: ... and then it’s nature and society, there are the three things that you mentioned.

At the next meeting before lesson B. March 18, the teachers talked about patterns of variation to make a contrast, aiming for the students to discern carbon dioxide both as something we need and something that becomes an issue if the level increases, avoiding giving the students the impression that carbon dioxide is always bad. The design of lesson В was therefore based on how we exchange carbon dioxide, but also what happens if the levels are too low or too high. The interdependence between nature and human beings regarding the carbon dioxide cycle was offered for the students to discern, as well as how both nature and society contribute to increasing or decreasing the levels.

During the last meeting, June 17, one of the teachers expressed how she experiences what and why parts of the tasks in the national test are difficult for the students to solve, as she has gotten 'new glasses’ after the theoretical training and therefore analyses the tests in a new way. The importance of continuously reminding the students about how the parts of the whole relate to the whole and what parts the whole consists of, is discussed and stressed, as this was found in lesson В to strengthen the students’ ability to discern the relationships and to create the overall picture. The students’ tendency to focus on the facts and retell them, as occurred in lesson A, has to be dealt with; that was what happened in lesson B, where the intention was to constantly relate the students’ focus to both the parts and the whole. This was a challenge for the students, and to some extent it resulted in difficulties, as shown in the decreased number of words used in their responses. On the other hand, the results from lesson В also showed that the students discerned how parts of a whole were related to each other and shaped the whole cyclic process of the carbon dioxide cycle, which was not seen in the results from lesson A.

 
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