Toolkit for Teacher Concept Change                  

Toolkit Overview Video                                 

The purpose of this Toolkit is to assist teachers of science in the conceptual development and acquisition of the K-12 Science Framework Dimension of Science & Engineering Practices.  The goal is that teachers of science fully implement Science & Engineering Practices in all their teaching and that the Practices will be a natural component of their teaching repertoire.  The authors of the Toolkit acknowledge that full implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards involves the integration of the three Dimensions of the K-12 Science Framework:  Science & Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Disciplinary Core Ideas.  The transition from a one dimensional teacher, defined as a teacher who focuses on a single dimension such as content standards, to a three dimensional teacher, one who seamlessly weaves all three dimensions into lessons as appropriate, is a complex cognitive, pedagogical and paradigm challenge.  Simply stated, this is not a quick, painless process.  The transition to a three dimensional teacher should be viewed as a life-long journey over a continuum of change.


A Three Dimensional Teacher is one who seamlessly integrates the three Dimensions of the K-12 Science Framework in all science instruction.


Click here to view one teacher’s explanation of her beginning journey from a one dimensional to a three dimensional teacher.


Based on the work of Llewellyn (2013), becoming a three dimensional teacher involves five essential stages:

1.  Building an understanding of the three dimensions
2.  Developing an understanding of the change process
3.  Constructing a mind-set for the emerging pedagogy
4.  Translating new knowledge into action
5.  Creating a culture of three dimensional practice (p. 60).


“In the final analysis, it’s important to realize how you goals and beliefs foster the legacy you create as a teacher” (Llewllyn, 2013, p. 62).


This Toolkit provides a starting point to engage in the steps listed above.  An understanding of the Science & Engineering Practices Dimension is provided through examples of the Practices with supporting resources.  The activities included in the Toolkit are not meant to serve as lesson plans, but have been chosen to highlight the concepts of each of the Practices.  It is expected that teachers using the Toolkit will connect the practice to their specific grade level and lessons.  In order to develop an understanding of the change process, each Practice will follow the steps of  the Conceptual Change Model (Stephans, 2003).  


A more thorough introduction to conceptual change is found on the Conceptual Change and NGSS page of the Toolkit and contains a full explanation of the conceptual change cycle shown here.


Conceptual Change Cycle

“Preexisting beliefs are tenacious and may require repeated challenges in different settings and context to replace” (Stephans, 2003, p. 7).




Each Practice is outlined in the toolkit following the conceptual change cycle (above) for teacher growth through both reflective questions and activities for the Practice in the classroom.  Each Practice entry starts at the beginning of the change change cycle with an inclusion of “Building Awareness” and “Background Information” cells.  These cells challenge learners to bring their current practice into focus in the BUILDING AWARENESS cell in which the Framework Rationale is summarized and then summarize the explanation of the Practice from the Framework in the “Background Information” cell.


Each Practice will also include implementation activities, resources (podcasts, links, etc.)  and reflective questions.  These allow learners to work through the conceptual change cycle by reflecting on each of the steps of the model.  


The activities included within the Toolkit are intended for implementation of the Practice for both the facilitator of the activity as well as for the participants.  The activities referenced are outlined in length within the Practice, or a link is provided which outlines the procedure for the activity.  Each activity may be listed in more than one Practice as varying depth of the activity will lend itself to varying Practices.


The questions posted for each step of the cycle of conceptual change are intended to be shared in a professional learning community (PLC) between facilitators of prescribed activities, but the questions can also be used for personal reflection as part of the life-long learning process.  Each set of questions (for each part of the continuum) probe deeper as the continuum of change develops within the learner.  


Finally, each Practice within the Toolkit include a progression of the Practice in varying grade level bands.  This will help the learner finetune the Practice to his/her classroom, pupils, and capacities.  These are not set as limitations but as guidelines to assist a larger picture beyond the Toolkit learner.

Scientific Method & NGSS click here to view podcast


(Carey, 1991; Chi, 1992; Keil, 1999; Thagard, 1992, Stephans, 2003)


Conceptual Change and NGSS

Asking Questions in Science & Defining Problems in Engineering

Developing and Using Models

Planning & Carrying Out Investigations

Analyzing & Interpreting Data

Using Mathematics & Computational Thinking

Constructing Explanations & Designing Solutions

Engaging in Argument

Obtaining, Evaluating & Communicating


Return to Introduction Page


The Toolkit was developed through the Montana Partnership with Regions for Excellence in STEM Grant.  The contents of this version of the Toolkit have been modified from the original.