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									                                     Teacher Card Sorting Activity

Work in pairs, one interviewer and one participant
There are two versions of the cards, one for elementary teachers and one for secondary teachers,
select the most appropriate set of cards for the participant.

Step 1
        The interviewer asks the participant to read the set of scenario cards and sort the cards
into the following stacks:
         1) How I WOULD teach science
         2) How I WOULD NOT teach science
         3) Unsure
       While the participant is sorting the cards, the interviewer should note which scenarios
evoke strong positive/ negative reactions from the student.

Step 2
       After the completion of this first round of sorting, the interviewer selects a scenario that
evoked a strong positive reaction from the participant and asks the participant to talk about that

        The interviewer probes by asking: “How does this scenario support your purposes and
goals for teaching science?”

        Repeat with several more scenarios that evoked strong positive reactions. The
interviewer should record the participant’s purposes and goals for teaching science as they
emerge from the conversation.

         Next, the interviewer selects a scenario that evoked a strong negative reaction and asks
the participant to explain why he or she rejected the card. The interviewer may need to probe by
asking, “What aspects of the scenario would need to be changed before you could place the card
in the first stack?”

       Again, the interviewer should record the participant’s purposes and goals as they emerge
from the conversation.
Step 3
         After the initial sorting of the cards and the follow-up discussion, the focus shifts to the
cards in the first stack, those scenarios that represent how the participant would teach science in
their own classroom.

        The interviewer asks the participant to re-examine the cards in the first stack and place
the cards in a continuum. The participant is asked to place the cards that best represent how they
would teach science to the far left of the continuum.

       After completing the continuum sort, the interview asks the participant to describe the
decision-making process in sorting the cards. The interviewer probes by asking, “How does this
scenario represent your purposes and goals for teaching science?”

       After identifying smaller subsets of scenarios, ask the participant, “How are these cards
alike?” By asking the participant to explain his/her rationale in sorting the cards on a
continuum, the interviewer is seeking to elicit the participant’s central purposes and goals for
teaching science.
   Elementary Teacher Card Sorting
           Activity Cards

You, as a teacher, are teaching a unit on
space. Each day during the unit you read to
the class from a chapter book about the solar
system. After reading about a particular
planet, you ask students to make a statement
about the planet.        You record these
statements on the board for inclusions in a
letter sent home to parents at the end of the

You, as a teacher, want to teach about
insects. You decide the best way to do this
is to have children cut out pattern body parts
and assemble these into an insect that is put
on the bulletin board.

In a unit on cells, you, as a teacher, decide
that the best way to learn about parts of a
cell is for students to assemble a “jello cell,”
where various shaped candies represent
different cell parts.
You, as a teacher, begin a new unit by
asking students what they already know
about the topic. You use a KWL chart to
record the students’ prior knowledge.

You, as a teacher, have students observe
earthworms and generate questions about
earthworm behavior. Each small group
designs and carries out their own experiment
to test a hypothesis related to the group’s

You, as a teacher, require your students to
participate in the school’s Science Fair. You
remind students and parents that the act of
doing science is more important than the

Your students are intrigued with a toy water
rocket that a classmate has brought to
school. As a group, the students identify
questions and ways to explore how the
rocket works.      You help the students
organize into investigation teams. You
investigate along with the students.
You, as teacher, teach a recycling unit by
presenting important information about
recycling to your students.

You, as teacher, encourage students to
explore their own interests about the natural
world. One of your students looks up
information about whales while another
student sets up an investigation to study
bread molds.

You, as a teacher, set up learning centers for
a unit on Newton’s Laws of Motion. Using
resource books from your school’s library,
you select a variety of fun, easy-to-do

You, as a teacher, want your     students to
learn about simple machines.     You decide
the best way to do this is to    provide the
students with broken household   gadgets and
appliances to take apart.
You, as a teacher, set up a “Sink or Float”
learning center in one corner of the room.
On a weekly basis, you change the materials
available at this center.

You, as a teacher, want students to learn the
phases of the moon. You decide to ask your
students to observe and make sketches of the
moon each night for a period of one month.

You, as a teacher, want your      students to
learn about classification.        You have
students sort a collection of     leaves into
different categories based on     the leaves’

You, as a teacher, give students batteries,
bulbs and wires.         You encourage the
students to find all the possible ways to light
the bulb.
You, as a teacher, design a science unit
around the question, “What’s in our drinking

You, as a teacher, place bird feeders outside
your classroom window. You ask students
to carefully and accurately record their
observations of bird activity in an electronic

Your students have just completed a bridge-
building project. For the next unit on simple
machines, you ask the students to make their
bridge moveable using a combination of two
or       more        simple         machines.

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