Kirsten Franklin on science teaching – how to organise teacher support and student academic proficiency – POP12

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Brandon Krueger
Brandon Krueger
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

In education for 28 years, Kirsten is an elementary grade teacher and teacher on special assignment coordinating Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards implementation for the Petaluma State Schools in Petaluma State, California.

Kirsten did not come into teaching as a science specialist but took an opportunity to develop her skills in this area and she realised the importance of providing a high-quality science education to students, beginning at the earliest grades.

I really got hooked on science as a vehicle to provide meaningful and engaging learning for students that can be emigrated across the curriculum.

Kirsten Franklin
Kirsten Franklin

Eventually, Kirsten took up a role full-time, supporting teachers. She now loves working with adult learners and providing trainings for teachers.

What are the main aims of the role?

Kirsten does whatever she can to support teachers in providing quality science instruction to their students, based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). She does a lot of networking and searching for resources which she shares with teachers. This is essential so they can make the shifts in their practice that the NGSS requires.

Kirsten puts on workshops, writes a column in the district newsletter and works with individual teachers by request. She helps them to design lessons or even comes in and delivers model lessons.

Professional Learning Networks

This is a group of elementary teachers who are working on how to embed discourse in their science instruction. Kirsten has been developing this area as well.

Stages of development

Kirsten says that they spent the first 2 years in the Development Stage. This involved making teachers to understand the background and the rationale behind the NGSS as well as the architecture of the document. The colour coding and the columns can be really intimidating and overwhelming. Having worked with it, however, Kirsten sees it as a very useful blueprint for planning lessons and units.

NGSS is not a curriculum, it simply contains guidelines for what students should be able to do after instruction and all the learning experiences teachers provide for them.

The district is now in a Transition Stage. They are now working mostly on the delivery of instruction and what the ‘three dimensions’ look like:

  • Disciplinary core ideas – content
  • Cross-cutting concepts – thematic concepts which help student think like scientists and to make sense of what they are learning
  • Science and engineering practices – 8 different ways that students should be doing science

So Kirsten is working on what these look like in a classroom and how to adapt existing lessons to embed these. The assessment which is coming will be focussing on assessing students on all the three dimensions which have to be happening at the same time.

CSTA– Californian Science Teachers’ Association
NSTA – National Science Teachers’ Association


Kirsten on Twitter:


Diane Ketelle on how to make connections with and understand the real needs of our students – POP11

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Brandon Krueger
Brandon Krueger
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Dr. Diane Ketelle, Professor of Education at Mills College in Oakland, CA., returns this week with another kernel of wisdom. This time she concentrates on making connections and understanding the real needs of students.

Diane Ketelle
Diane Ketelle

Diane starts by talking about authenticity.

She says that the word is probably over-used but if we look carefully at it, we can see it incorporates a number of important things.

To be truly authentic, we must start having hard conversations about:

  • race
  • class
  • gender
  • sexual orientation
  • the gender binary

We must think about:

  • what a good school is
  • what a good school is
  • what it means to have a positive discipline program

For Diane, authenticity underpins making positive change.

It does take a lot of courage to make these genuine connections because you have to be willing not to avoid these harder conversations.

Diane talks about ‘nicety nice’ schools who only concentrate on creating a polite working environment but not much learning is going on.

To make deeper change and to help all learners make significant growth, you have to start with the adults having the tough conversations outlined above.


Diane points out that leadership is work with people and if you don’t enjoy working with people then educational leadership is probably not for you.

Diane doesn’t focus on ‘solving problems with bullet points’. She wants to get to the deep, sustainable change which involves investment in teachers, investment in staff which means:

  • investment in professional development
  • looking at supervision
  • sustaining ongoing conversations
  • reflective practice

Remember Diane’s new book:

Our first Pivotal Popcorn guest, Dr. Diane Ketelle has published a book – ‘Tread Lightly, Lead Boldly’.

Laurel Krokstrom on motivating students – POP10

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Brandon Krueger
Brandon Krueger
Kevin Mulryne
Kevin Mulryne

Laurel Krokstrom joined us to talk about motivation. She has a M.M. in trumpet performance from the University of Southern California, a M.A. in musicology from CSULA and is a doctoral student in Educational Psychology at the University of South Dakota.

What is motivation?

Laurel Krokstrom
Laurel Krokstrom

Laurel believes academic motivation is very important in K12 settings. It affects cognition and academic achievement.

Internal motivation comes from the student – they really love to do something like playing a musical instrument and the will do it whether someone asks them to or not.

External motivation is where you have ‘external prodding’ from a teacher, parent or peer who offer incentives to encourage the student to practice a musical instrument, for example.

Originally a lot of teachers used external motivation but now more and more research is showing that internal motivation is the way to go and makes for a much happier classroom.

Expectancy Value Theory

This is one of the latest motivation theories which Laurel has used. It states that students who expect to do well in a certain subject – who expect to succeed – will do really well.

There is a simple tool associated with this theory. Students rate how well they think they would do and how much they value the topic on a scale of 1 to 10. When these figures are multiplied together, they produce a rating of how likely it is that the student will compete a set assignment.

This can apply to any subject.

If you understand what motivates your students, particularly their internal motivation, then you can use this to inform everything you do with them.

Brandon remembers giving out surveys to his classes to try to find out what their interests and motivations are. This helped him to understand the motivation of each of his students and helped him to help them to have the most enjoyment and fulfilment out of the activities he planned.

So Brandon believes we can observe students to find out their motivations but we can also ask.