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Plenary Sessions

Exploring Science and English Language Development: Implications for Teacher Professional Learning

A conference hosted by the Institute for Inquiry at the Exploratorium

Plenary Sessions

Plenary presentations provided a context for conference case studies and working groups by exploring fundamental conceptions of science learning and English language development.

Conference Introduction

Conference Introduction (10:18)

A description of the Exploratorium’s engagement with science inquiry, English language development and teacher professional learning; and the context, rationale and goals for the conference.
Presenter: Lynn Rankin

Science Learning and Language Learners

Science Learning and Language Learners (24:04)

The three dimensions of science learning that comprise the NGSS (science practices, disciplinary core ideas and cross cutting concepts) necessitate the use of language to develop understanding of science phenomena.
Presenter: Helen Quinn

Doing Science With Language: Acquiring English Through Participation

Doing Science With Language: Acquiring English Through Participation (31:22)

New theories of language acquisition and examples of children engaged in productive uses of language reveal how and why science can be a good context for language development.
Presenters: Guadalupe ValdésSarah Capitelli

Inquiry with Exhibits: Explore Science & the Use of Language

Inquiry with Exhibits: Explore Science & the Use of Language (5:19)

Conference participants are given the opportunity to act as learners as they explore the museum floor in small groups. Later they discuss the role of language in their science investigations.

Lynn Rankin

Lynn Rankin

Director, Institute for Inquiry, Exploratorium

Lynn Rankin is Director of the Exploratorium’s Institute for Inquiry, a national professional development center for K-5 practitioners and leaders of elementary science reform efforts. Lynn has decades of experience in science curricula development, teacher professional development and program design in both formal and informal learning environments. She was a co-founder and faculty member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers' Professional Development Institutes for museum educators; she served on the faculty of the NSF-funded Center for Informal Learning and Schools, a collaboration between the Exploratorium, King's College, and the University of California at Santa Cruz. She has contributed to numerous national publications and committees, including the National Science Foundation’s, Foundations II: Inquiry, Thoughts, Views and Strategies for the K-5 Classroom, the National Academy of Science’s committee to develop Inquiry and the National Science Education Standards and National Institute for Science Education's Committee on Professional Development. She has served as PI on numerous National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Education, and private foundation grants. She leads the US DOE funded i3 (Investing in Innovation) project “Integrating ELD and Science: A Professional Development Approach” and the BaySci Science Champions Academy. Before joining the Exploratorium in 1975, she taught elementary school in the San Francisco Unified School District.

Helen Quinn

Helen Quinn

Professor Emerita of Physics, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University & Committee Chair for Conceptual Framework for New K-12 Science Education Standards

Helen Quinn is Professor Emerita of Particle Physics and Astrophysics at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. She received her PhD in physics at Stanford in 1967.  She has taught physics at both Harvard and Stanford. Dr. Quinn is an internationally recognized theoretical physicist who holds the Dirac Medal (from the International Center for Theoretical Physics, Italy), the Klein Medal (from The Swedish National Academy of Sciences and Stockholm University) and the Sakurai Prize (from the American Physical Society). She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. She is a Fellow and former president of the American Physical Society.  She is originally from Australia and is an Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia.

Dr. Quinn has been active in science education for some years. She served as Chair of the US National Academy of Science Board on Science Education (BOSE) from 2009-2014. She served as a member of the BOSE study that developed the report “Taking Science to School” and chaired the committee for the Framework for K-12 Science Education, which is the basis of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that have now been adopted by multiple states in the US. She also served on the committee that developed the report “Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards”. She is a member of the steering committee of the Understanding Language coalition at Stanford University, with a focus on the intersection of science learning and language learning.

Sarah Capitelli

Sarah Capitelli

Assistant Professor, Teacher Education, University of San Francisco

Sarah Capitelli is an Assistant Professor at the University of San Francisco in the School of Education’s Teacher Education Department. Sarah works with pre-service and practicing teachers to support their developing pedagogical practices for teaching bilingual, English learner, and immigrant students. She facilitates a teacher inquiry group comprised of USF graduates and current SFUSD teachers focused on supporting teachers’ systematic examination of student data to improve their teaching practices with English learners. She also coordinates the Bilingual Authorization Program at USF. Additionally, Sarah has been working with IFI at the Exploratorium since 2012, contributing a language development perspective to IFI’s inquiry-based science professional development work.

Previously, Sarah was a kindergarten teacher in Anaco, Venezuela for two years and a first and second grade Spanish-bilingual teacher in East Oakland for six years. She received her MA in Early Childhood Development and Bilingual Teacher Credential from Mills College and her PhD in Educational Linguistics from Stanford University. Her research focuses on young English learners and their teachers and the role teacher inquiry can play in improving pedagogical practices for English learners.

Guadalupe Valdés

Guadalupe Valdés

Bonnie Katz Tenenbaum Professor of Education, Stanford University

Guadalupe Valdés is the Bonnie Katz Tenenbaum Professor of Education at Stanford University. Working in the area of applied linguistics, Dr. Valdés' research explores many of the issues of bilingualism relevant to teachers in training, including methods of instruction, typologies, measurement of progress, and the role of education in national policies on immigration. Specifically, she studies the sociolinguistic processes of linguistic acquisition by learners in different circumstances—those who set out to learn a second language in a formal school setting (elective bilingualism) and those who must learn two languages in order to adapt to immediate family-based or work-based communicative needs within an immigrant community (circumstantial bilingualism). Her research in these areas has made her one of the most eminent experts on Spanish-English bilingualism in the United States.

Dr. Valdés is a member of the American Academy of Education, a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and a member of the Board of Trustees of Educational Testing Service (ETS). She is a founding partner of Understanding Language, an initiative that focuses attention on the role of language in subject-area learning, with a special focus on helping English Language Learners meet the new Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards (