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  1. Abstract

    COVID-19 creates an opportunity for science classrooms to relate content about viruses to students’ personal experiences with the pandemic. Previous researchers have shown that students are interested in crisis situations like disease outbreaks; however, they primarily acquire information about these events through internet sources which are often biased. We argue that it is important to understand student interest, concerns, and information-seeking behaviors related to COVID-19 to support science classroom learning and engagement about the virus and other potential outbreaks. We surveyed 224 high school students and analyzed their responses to six open-ended questions. We found that students expressed the most interest in topics related to the origin of COVID-19 and vaccines. Their greatest concerns included contracting the virus or someone they know contracting the virus and vaccine distribution. Of our sample, only 6.7% reported using their teachers as their source of COVID-19 information. Science classrooms have the potential to pique students’ situational interest by discussing COVID-19 topics that are important to students, which can increase their academic performance, content knowledge, attention, and engagement in learning about viruses. Moreover, classroom instruction about COVID-19 by teachers has shown to alleviate students’ stress and anxiety. We provide key areas of student interest about COVID-19 to help educators address students’ questions and improve curricular resources on viral pandemics.

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  2. Abstract

    Teachers' instructional practices are critical for guiding students' engagement in scientific practices within the classroom knowledge building community. In this study, we seek to understand how teachers' instructional supports of epistemic aspects involved in scientific modeling may influence students' meaningful engagement in the practice. In particular, we examine two upper elementary teachers' epistemological messages about modeling over the course of a model‐based unit and focus group conversations in consensus model activities to explore the relationship between teachers' instructional supports and students' practice. The results suggest that each teacher was sharing complex messages about various aspects of the modeling practice ranging from procedural to epistemic. Further, those messages were then reflected in students' work. Our findings indicate that teachers' (a) foregrounding of epistemological messages, (b) consistency in emphasizing those messages, and (c) unpacking of those messages may play an important role in how epistemological ideas about modeling are taken up by students. We conclude the paper by discussing implications for supporting teachers in meaningfully enacting modeling practice.

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