Jimmy W. Karlan, EdD

Core Faculty, Director of the Science Teacher Certification Concentration
Department of Environmental Studies

Current Teaching Repertoire


Problem Solving & Inquiry-Based Science Teaching
“If I told you the answer, those of you still thinking about the problem would probably stop…” In the spirit of Catherine Fosnot’s remark, we will explore teaching science in middle and high schools from a problem-solving and inquiry-based orientation.

We will solve problems about problems and inquire into the nature of inquiry. We will experience problem solving and inquiry from the perspectives of learners and teachers. Therefore, whether you are trying to figure out how to lift a classmate with one arm, the engineering of a pneumatic pump, or how to sustain multiple generations of life in a sealed container, we will reflect about the teaching of and learning through problem-solving and inquiry based approaches.

Instructional Delivery: Art & Craft
It is possible for two experienced teachers to design an exemplary hands-on, minds-on, student-centered, democratic, constructivist, inquiry-based ecology lesson of which one is a huge hit and the other a FLOP!

Why then will only one of the two teachers, both equally faithful to the written succeed? This course hopes to address this question.

Successful science teachers develop a toolbox of techniques for delivering effective instruction. They use a variety of provocative classroom start-ups, create enticing agendas, present engaging demonstrations, maximize their students’ on-task time, play with momentum, develop sustainable record keeping, make interesting presentations, attend to different learning styles, spiral back on previous knowledge and skills, manage with empathy and respect, move purposefully around their classrooms, facilitate student-to-student discussions, use metaphors and counter-examples, play skeptic, respect wait-time, and design learning-full quizzes. Effective instruction is also rooted in understanding your own teaching and learning styles. This course will help you become aware of and more proficient with some of these techniques for delivering effective instruction.

This course is designed to compliment and enhance your Science Teaching Methods class.


Curriculum Design
Designing curriculum is an extremely creative process, filled with controversies and dilemmas. It is a political, philosophical, and theoretical process. In this class, we will analyze, critique, and redesign a variety of curriculum materials as we attempt to evolve our emerging conceptions of curriculum and develop our own philosophy of curriculum design. This is primarily a theory-based course with some opportunities for direct application like designing original curriculum for the context in which you plan to teach. Consider this course as a way to help you move further along with your own questions and concerns about curriculum design and as an opportunity to twist, stretch, and flip your current understanding of what it means to design curriculum. In particular, we will experience first-hand and theoretically ideas like constructivism, democratic classrooms, coherent curriculum, authentic learning, problem-solving and inquiry. This list of educatonal jargon will be more meaningful in a few months.

I think of curriculum designers as jazz composers. We create frameworks and directions in which our students are invited to follow and are encouraged to improvise. If we’re good composers, we will know how to greet our fellow musicians in order to enrich our music in unanticipated ways. I look forward to creating for you and with you opportunities to think critically and creatively about how to design powerful science curriculum.

Student Teaching Seminar
You are now on your final stretch of earning your certification to become a science teacher. In hindsight, student teaching will feel like it passed by in the blink of an eye. While doing, it may feel like a long, strange and exhausting trip. Student teaching is a rite of passage that may at times make you second-guess your career choice. It is a passage from theory to practice and from romanticizing about teaching to being on the front lines. It should stir up all sorts of emotions.

Alongside the challenge of student teaching is the excitement and joy of developing meaningful relationships with your students, and the delight that comes with inspiring others to learn.

The purpose of our seminar is to provide you with logistical, moral, and pedagogical support. During this time, we’ll trouble-shoot problems, explore discipline issues, share curriculum ideas, muse about the value of homework, consider record keeping strategies, watch videotapes of your teaching, support your job search, and play with other issues as they emerge.

This is our last opportunity to work together — a chance to bridge theory and practice, design and instruction, the art of teaching with the politics of schooling, adolescent development and your management beliefs, professional romanticism and whiney teacher rooms. This is a chance to find out your strengths and weaknesses as a curriculum designer, instructor, and classroom manager.

We only have 10 meetings together before we part. This is a time for critical reflection in the most productive sense. If a lesson doesn’t go well while student teaching, I recommend asking first how your design, instructional delivery and/or your personal disposition may have contributed to how things went. The goal here is not to dwell in any fault but rather to empower you with those components of the teaching experience of which you do have control. When approached from this perspective, your practice will grow and mature.

Student teaching and your first year of teaching may prove to be one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in your life. I look forward to helping you succeed!

SUMMER (Elective)

Exhibit Design: Bronx Zoo consists of two parts. The first part consists of 3 sessions at Antioch with me, Jimmy Karlan; the second part is at the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, and NY Aquarium with Johnny Fraser from the Bronx Zoo and Cindy Thomashow. This Introduction & Verifications refers only to the first part, Laying the Groundwork.

Laying the Groundwork hopes to provide you with the theoretical and practical interpretive groundwork for your trip to the Bronx Zoo, Central Park Zoo, and NY Aquarium.

It has been said that interpreters have the third most critical mission on the planet, after primary school teachers who instill hope, and artists who warm souls. I think of interpreters as teacher artists who excite hearts and souls while making the natural and cultural world relevant to all. And I think of exhibit designers committed to tackling contemporary social and environmental concerns as provocateurs.

Many zoos and museums like the Bronx Zoo and the NY Aquarium are pushing the boundaries of the traditional diorama or static exhibit to tackle contemporary social and environmental concerns and by mounting concept rather than object-oriented exhibitions. Institutions like these are committed to educating for environmental conservation and care. Their engaging and provocative exhibits sometimes directly challenge the audience to relate their personal lifestyle choices to the impact on environmental issues, habitat loss and endangered species.

There is no reason, however, that provocative environmental exhibits should be limited to admissions-based organizations. It’s time, in fact, to take environmental exhibits into the fullness of our lives. Why not learn about the natural history of foods in a grocery store or the ecological footprint of a skyscraper in an elevator?

Stimulated by our readings, discussions, exercises and reviews of existing exhibits, you will design a provocative exhibit that can move the hearts and minds of viewers.

Anything goes, at least conceptually: an underground exhibit of subterranean life in New England forests; a turkey vulture observatory; a static exhibit about consumption at a shopping mall; an interactive exhibit on Global Warming at a gas station, a political cartoon for a newspaper, a video-loop at a grocery store, or an enactment inside an elevator.