Ambitious Science Teaching


     AST The ambitious teacher is someone who “works with students’ ideas” over time. Ambitious teaching deliberately aims to support students of all backgrounds to deeply understand science ideas, participate in the activities of the discipline, and solve authentic problems.

    In the classroom of an Ambitious Science Teacher, you would see and hear:

    • Teachers anchoring their instruction in complex and puzzling natural events
    • Students engaging in multiple rounds of creating and revising scientific models, explanations and evidence-based arguments
    • Teachers using a variety of discourse strategies with students to get them to think deeply and to respond to each other’s thinking
    • Students prompting each other to engage in sense-making talk during investigations and other activities
    • Students’ ideas being represented publicly and worked on by the class
    • Teachers using specialized tools and routines to support students who are not willing or able to participate without help
    • Students speaking up about what information or experiences they need to move their thinking forward

    Ambitious teaching is supported by four sets of core practices that work together throughout every unit of study. 

    1. These practices start with designing units of instruction (Planning for engagement with important science ideas)

    2. Then focus on making visible what students currently know about the science being taught (Eliciting students’ ideas)

    3. The teacher guides sense-making talk around investigations and other kinds of lab activities or readings (Supporting on-going changes in thinking)

    4. Finally the teacher scaffolds students’ efforts to put everything together near the end of a unit (Pressing for evidence-based explanations).


    To read more about each phase of instruction, obtain tools, see some examples and watch videos of Ambitious Science Teaching in action, head over to the Ambitious Science Teaching Website.