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Practicing Reform-Based Science Curriculum in an Urban Classroom: A Hispanic Elementary School Teacher's Thinking and Decisions


  • Author Note: The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and are not those of the Linking Food and the Environment Program (LiFE). The author thanks Isobel Contento, Ph.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, the PI of the LiFE Program, for her support.

  • The author thanks the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.

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concerning this article should be addressed to Bhaskar Raj Upadhyay, Curriculum and Instruction, Science Education, 374A Peik Hall, University of Minnesota, 159 Pillsbury Dr. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455.


This study explores the thinking and decisions of Vera (pseudonym), a Hispanic elementary teacher, while she enacted a reform-based science curriculum in an urban school in the southern United States. Vera's thinking, decisions, experiences, and practices were documented over a 2-year period. Using the data collected from semistructured interviews, participant observations and classroom documents, a rich and complex case study of Vera is developed in this paper. This case study describes how Vera makes curricular choices from reform-based science curricula such as the LiFE curriculum; how she enacts those choices to empower poor urban minority students; how Vera believes that preparing students for the high-stakes test is empowering because it ensures continued schooling for students; how, for Vera, teaching connected science using students' lived experiences is a risky act; and how she uses negotiation in her science teaching.