Jessica Thompson

jessica thompsonJessica Thompson is an Assistant Professor in the UW College of Education. Her research focuses on building Local Improvement Networks that support ambitious and equitable teaching practice with novice and experienced science teachers, science and English Language Learner (ELL) coaches, principals, and district leadership. Three principles guide her work:

  1. Instructional excellence begins with a commitment to equity and being responsive to how all students engage in learning.
  2. Core practices, well-designed tools and routines support the development of teaching.
  3. Networked improvement communities based on strong partnerships with local schools and districts can accelerate common knowledge in a system when multiple-role actors are involved.

Current Projects

Building Capacity for the Next Generation Science Standards through Networked Improvement Communities, NSF (PI). This design-based implementation project supports the development of local improvement networks with science teachers, coaches and principals in 8 schools and the development of an innovation hub. The community seeks to improve teaching and learning for all students, but EL students in particular.

STEM Academy, Race To The Top (PI). The STEM Elementary Specialists program is preparing 20 5th and 6th grade teachers to teach science, mathematics and engineering. We are revising units of instruction and engaging teachers in working on ambitious and equitable practices during the school year as well as during the summer. We are running a summer academy for incoming 5th grade students which will be a site for student and teacher learning.

Start Strong, Race To The Top (PI). Similar to the STEM Academy we are supporting 150 K-1 teachers in developing strong science curriculum and teaching practices.  

Developing Networked Improvement Communities for High Quality Mathematics and Science Teaching, WA STEM (Co-PI withElham Kazemi). This is an efficacy and development project taking a whole-school approach. We are developing job-embedded professional development models that invest in social and material resources and tools to support teachers, school and district leaders in improving a technical math and science core, K-12.

Science STARS: Nurturing Urban Girls’ Identities through Inquiry-Based Science (Co-PI with April Luehmann, U of Rochester and Angie Calabrese Barton, Michigan State). We provide urban teen girls an opportunity to participate in rich, inquiry-based investigations and develop their identities as scientists and agents of change in their communities. We are applying ambitious and equitable practices in an out-of-school space and are supporting youth in developing documentaries about advocacy and science.  

Past Projects

TOOLS4TEACHERS: Thompson and Windschitl developed the core practices and suites of tools found on this website. Tool Systems to Support Progress Toward Expert-Like Teaching by Early Career Science Educators, NSF 2006-2010. Funds research program to develop and investigate on-line tools that support novice secondary science teachers in developing ambitious science teaching practices. Thompson developed an induction program to support novice teachers and has written about early career teachers trajectories and conditions under which novices take up ambitious practice.

TOOLS4MENTORS: In 2010 Dr. Thompson was awarded a fellowship from the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation: Buffering against Regression: Supporting Co-Learning between Teacher Candidates and Cooperating Teachers. Thompson worked with a team of Cooperating teachers and district level science coaches to develop tools and routines for mentor teachers supporting novices in learning ambitious practices. We ran summer institutes and monthly meet-ups for folks in in six local school districts.

VIDEO CLUBS: In 2009 Thompson founded a video club, Lenses on Learning, with Melissa Braaten to support in-service teachers in developing a learning community that works toward ambitious equitable practices. The project was first funded with a grant from the National Educational Association then through a State Math/Science Partnership grant with Seattle Public Schools

Dr. Thompson also has expertise in working with underserved students in secondary science classrooms and developing interventions that learn from, and support ethnic minority girls' engagement in scientific inquiry (dissertation fellowship from the American Association of University Women; 2007 Selma Greenberg Dissertation Award). She has a background in Biology and Chemistry and taught high school and middle school science as well as a drop-out prevention courses for eight years in North Carolina and Washington State. She has taught secondary and elementary science teaching methods courses and Culturally Responsive Math and Science Teaching at the UW.