Workshops Section Image TEP Home Page

Workshops Home

Schedule of Events

Teacher Training


TEP newsletter subscribe icon with link Twitter logo with link to TEP Twitter

Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club

The Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club, a cooperative effort of the Teaching Effectiveness Program and the Science Literacy Program, continues its popular pedagogy reading group. Meetings feature lively, structured discussions across discipline and rank (even including some excellent undergraduate students and graduate teaching fellows) and occasional small-scale experiments with teaching techniques. Participants are invited to join the whole series or stop by for a specific conversation.

Two weekly meetings to choose from:

Thursdays 9-9:50am, 317 Lewis Integrative Sciences Building, facilitated by Julie Mueller, TEP
Fridays 2-2:50pm, 317 Lewis Integrative Sciences Building, facilitated by Elly Vandegrift, SLP

Readings, discussion summaries, and Teaching Take-Aways (cogent teaching advice derived from our journal club discussions) are now available in several locations:

(NOTE: The below links will open in a new browser tab or window)

Jump to:
Week 1

Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10

Week 1:

Welcome to spring term Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club. We're looking forward to exploring a variety of active engagement techniques together this quarter. If you haven't been coming, this is a great time to join us. Feel free to stop by for just an individual session or come every week, as your schedule allows.

Our plan for the term is to focus on putting teaching techniques into action in the classroom. Throughout the term we will explore five topics more in depth; the first week we will read about a technique followed by a teaching experiment during the second week led by volunteer teams. Thursday and Friday volunteer teams will work together and with Julie and Elly to plan journal club activities. This is great (and fun!) way for journal club participants to practice facilitating new techniques in a low-stakes environment.

For this spring we have selected the following topics based on ideas that have come up in conversation during fall and winter terms. We are still looking for volunteers to plan and facilitate sessions—if you’re interested please contact Julie at

Weeks 1-2 Science Writing Heuristic
Weeks 3-4 Case-Based Learning
Weeks 5-6 Music to Teach Science
Weeks 7-8 My Lecture tool
Weeks 9-10 Games to Teach Science

For week 1 we will be reading an article by Tom Greenbowe visiting professor from Iowa State University.

Burke KA, Greenbowe TJ, and Hand B. 2006. Implementing the Science Writing Heurisitc in the Chemistry Laboratory. Journal of Chemical Education 83(7):1032-1038. Available from:


Week 2:

This week in Journal Club we will build on last week's Science Writing Heuristics reading and discussion. This week we will have our teaching experiment using instruction strategy based on inquiry (or the Learning Cycle Approach). To prepare, please complete the following 'Before Class Exploration.'

A) Read the file Electrolysis_Lab_Context.pdf, available from

B) Run through the Electrolysis simulation demo.

- Read the Overview and Learning Outcomes tabs.
- From the Experiment tab, select 'Run Demonstration'
- Follow the instructions on the left side of the screen to select the initial parameters for the simulation demo.
- Answer the prediction questions
- Run the demo
- Review your results

C) Before our Journal Club meeting, thing about the following:
- Think about the chemistry being addressed in the readings and simulation demo.
- What do you feel you understand about the topic to be discussed in the material?
- What areas or concepts do you find difficult?
- Have you discovered any misconceptions you had about the topic while you were working with the material?

D) We will use the simulation in 'Experiment' mode in this week's meetings. Come to Journal Club with your beginning question (refer back to last week's reading for guidance on what a good beginning question might look like) and generate an idea for an experimental plan to investigate your question.

Also, please note an upcoming Science Literacy Program workshop by Elly Vandegrift and Sierra Dawson:

Backward Design
Friday, April 18, 10:00-11:00am, 240D Willamette Hall

What is backward design? How can you use backward design in your teaching? How can backward design help you incorporate learning outcomes aligned with assessment and activities?

As National Academies Education Fellows, we used the process of backward design to create a classroom activity aligning goals, learning objectives, assessments, and activities. During a one-hour interactive workshop, we will share this activity, our “teachable tidbit” with participants. While sharing the activity, we will annotate with descriptions of our experience with the process of backward design. Then participants will have an opportunity to explore how they can align goals and objectives with assessments and activities in their own classrooms.


Week 3:

During weeks 3 and 4 we will be exploring how to use case studies in teaching science. This week, please read short selections from the book Start with a Story: The Case Study Method of Teaching College Science. Please contact for a copy of the selections.

Herreid, C.F., editor. 2007. Start with a Story: The Case Study Method of Teaching College Science. NSTA Press.

There are several national clearinghouses for case studies that have been developed and tested by science faculty. Among them are:

- National Center for Case Study Teaching (searchable by subject and grade)
- BioQuest Investigative Cases (primarily but not exclusively biology)
- UC Riverside Chemistry Department (different levels of chemistry courses)
- University of Massachusetts at Lowell (forensic geology cases)
- Case Studies in Human Physiology (human physiology)


Week 4:

For week 4 of journal club we will continue exploring how to use case studies in teaching by participating as students in a case study classroom activity. Thursday morning will include a physics case involving traveling waves in penguin huddles and Friday afternoon a case on the Bonneville Dam, salmon, and sea lions developed for Bio 150, Ocean Planet.


Week 5:

This week we will be starting our exploration of ways to use music to teach science. To prepare for this week’s activities, please read:

Using Science Songs to Enhance Learning: An Interdisciplinary Approach, G. Crowther, CBE Life Sci Educ, vol. 11, 2012, 26-30.

Next week Thursday Rebecka Tumblin and Samantha Zeman will lead us through a sample activity that uses music to teach science concepts. Neena Leggett and Noela Estrada will do the honors on Friday.


Week 6:

This week we will continue our exploration of ways to use music to teach science.

Last week, in addition to discussing the assigned article, we listened to a number of songs illustrating different ways music could be used to teach science. Some of the songs were original compositions and others were parodies. For links to the songs we used, please see

This week we will be led by undergraduate and graduate students who have created an activity that will allow us to experience one way to use music to learn and practice scientifically correct information.

Follow up:
In our meetings this week, we took our turn working with lyrics. Each group spent 20-30 minutes working on a song or poem on the topic of their choice. Here are some of the final products.

‘Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star’ – with added science
Twinkle, twinkle, little star,
how I wonder what you are.
Through the atmosphere your light
scattered, scattered, all the night.
When the blazing sun is gone,
my lenses may your light fall on.
White dwarf, quasar, neutron star
your light must travel from so far.
With a telescope we see
things we thought just couldn’t be.
Other suns, and other worlds
nebulae, quasars, galactic swirls.
Light so faint they’re hard to see
distorted when it reaches me.
Twinkle, twinkle little star
now I know more of what you are.

Natural Selection Rules! (to the tune of ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’)
Variation in your traits
In your traits
In your traits
Variation in your traits
Is where adaptation starts
Competition happens next
Happens next
Happens next
Competition happens next
With survivors strong and smart
Traits must be inherited
Traits must be inherited
Through your DNA
Traits have different fitnesses
Traits have different fitnesses
Through time some go away

Song to remember some key characteristics of the phylum Cnidaria – sung to the tune of ‘Jingle Bells’
Stinging cells
Pulsing bells
Corals in the cay
Oh what fun, the flowing tide, our tentacles can sway, hay

Song about the stages of mitosis – sung to the tune of ‘It’s a Small World‘
It’s a small cell, replicating
It’s a small cell, that’s dividing
It’s a small cell, separating
One cell is now two
Prophase, pro-segregating different organelles
Metaphase, in the middle all the chromosomes align
Anaphase, antagonistically pulling them apart
Telophase, two daughter cells start

Song about stellar formation and life-cycle – sung to the tune of ‘Dream a Little Dream of Me’
Stars shining bright above you
Dense gasses like a hydrogen and helium
Forged within a molecular cloud
This is how our stars are formed
Some alone and some in binary systems
Produce light and warmth for
Earthlings and aliens
Stars fading and spinning for eons
Collapsing under their mass
Expand out into the orbit of planets
Then you have a black hole


Week 7:

This week in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club we will start a two-week exploration of the use of demonstrations in science classes. This week Stan Micklavzina, Senior Instructor in Physics and the Physics Department’s director of instructional resources (demo room dude), will lead us through several demonstrations and talk about how to use them effectively in class. To prepare for our meeting, please read:

Effectiveness of a Classroom Chemistry Demonstration Using the Cognitive Conflict Strategy, M. Braddock and R. Bucat, Int. Journal of Sci. Educ., 300:8, (2008) 1115-1128. (
You can download a PDF of the article here


Week 8:

This week we are pleased to welcome Kelly Miller, graduate student in Eric Mazur's group at Harvard University, who will lead us through a couple of demos and talk about her research around how demos can be used to support student learning.
To see some of Kelly's work please read:
Miller, K. 2013. Use Demonstrations to Teach, Not Just Entertain. Physics Teacher 51:570-571. Available from:

Please read and be ready to discuss this paper which was the inspiration for the work she will be discussing:
Roth, W-M, CM McRobbie, KB Lucas, S. Boutonne. 1997. Why may students fail to learn from demonstrations? A social perspective on learning physics. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 34(5): 509-533.;2-U/abstract


Week 9:

This week in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club, we will start our study of the use of games to teach science. To prepare for this week’s meetings, please read:

1. Reuss, R. L., & Gardulski, A. F. (2001). An interactive game approach to learning in Historical Geology and Paleontology. Journal of Geoscience Education, 49(2), 120–129. Retrieved from

2. Cooper, S., Khatib, F., Treuille, A., Barbero, J., Lee, J., Beenen, M., … Players, F. (2010). Predicting protein structures with a multiplayer online game. Nature, 466(7307), 756–60. doi:10.1038/nature09304


Week 10:

This week in the Science Literacy Teaching Journal Club, we will close out another great year by trying out some fun games that can be used to teach science. On Thursday, Samantha Hopkins will lead us in a game of “Go Extinct” as well as some rounds of “Science Pictionary.” On Friday afternoon, Dileep Reddy and Tyler Harvey will do the honors.