Donna Linderman M.ED., PDS Site Coordinator Spring Valley Elementary, Midway ISD, Waco, TX
Melissa Cates MS. ED, University Liaison, Baylor University, Waco, TX

Teaching Associates from Spring Valley Elementary showcased their science expertise and instructional practices at the 3rd annual PDS Palooza. By integrating the principles of scientific inquiry into their lesson design, they crafted an engaging and effective learning environment for all. Teaching Associates coordinated hands-on activities providing elementary students with direct experiences to grasp scientific concepts.

Engaging Students with Scientific Thinking

The annual PDS Palooza successfully highlights the wondrous learning experiences fostered by the Professional Development Partnership Model. At Spring Valley Elementary, teaching staff witnesses the collaborative magic between Clinical Instructors and Teaching Associates, exemplifying the power of co-teaching strategies. Previously centered on math instruction, the PDS Palooza now broadens its focus to facilitate a campus-wide maker mindset with design thinking, spotlighting the STEM-focused collaboration between Spring Valley Elementary in Hewitt, Texas and Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

This event, rotating its showcase of instructional rounds annually, aims to highlight “Best Practices” and authentic learning experiences in the field, emphasizing STEM activities and educational endeavors. Aligned with The National Association of Professional Development Schools’ Nine Essentials, the PDS Palooza reflects a commitment to advancing educational goals.

Science sparks enthusiasm in elementary classrooms through a guided inquiry framework. Teaching Associates plan captivating learning opportunities utilizing the 5 E Instructional Model (Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, Evaluate), allowing students to establish relevant scientific connections to their own experiences. The joy of wonderment unfolds as Teaching Associates deliver an understanding of pedagogy from their content classes to the teaching field, implementing this dynamic teaching model.

TAs Explore Interactive Stations with the 5 E Model

The essence of our instructional approach with science content is captured in the rhythm of empowerment, embodied by the Five E’s. As we dive into the learning journey of active inquiries, the verses below express the guiding principles that ignite curiosity and shape lasting learning experiences.

Empowering students with the Five E’s, Building knowledge through active inquiries.

Engaging students to start thinking with wonder and awe, Peaking curiosity while launching predictions to draw.

Exploring interactive investigations, Experimenting and collaborating with academic conversations.

Explaining what was observed and explored in a creative way, Framing understanding with a video or other form of play.

Elaborate “Stretch Your Thinking,” “Solve a Problem,” “Show What You Know,” Expand upon your knowledge setting your science skills aglow.

 Evaluating learning outcomes with evidence, Gauging the level of success with confidence.

Science sparks enthusiasm in its wondrous ways, Leaving enduring memories of learning that truly amaze.


Bybee, R. W., Taylor, J. A., Gardner, A., Van Scotter, P., Powell, J. C., Westbrook, A., & Landes, N. (2006). The BSCS 5E instructional model: Origins and effectiveness. Colorado Springs, Co: BSCS, 5(88-98).

National Association for Professional Development Schools. (2021). What It Means to be a Professional Development School: The Nine Essentials (2nd ed.) [Policy statement]. Author.