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Discussion: Science Instructional Materials for Middle School: Informing Future Initiatives

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posted by: Janie West on August 14, 1999 at 10:59AM
subject: Middle School Science Curriculum
Hello, I am the Professional Development Coordinator for project ASSET in
southwest Virginia. Our LSC is a K-8 science reform that includes four
school divisions in rural, southwest Virginia. We were awarded our NSF
grant in late spring and just recently completed the first phase of training
for K-2 teachers. Our new hands-on, inquiry based curriculum will consist
of STC, Insights, and FOSS modules.

Since we do not plan to begin "module" training with our 6-8 faculty until
the third year of the project, we are hoping that grade and content
appropriate modules will be available by that time.

My feelings about a MS curriculum seem to parallel those of Scott Hays.
Modules that can be implemented throughout the year covering earth,
physical, life, and environmental sciences would offer the greatest
opportunity for success. I do like the idea of having some sort of "text"
or printed material that correlates with modular units. At some point,
students must learn the value of research using printed materials.

The barriers that I anticipate include getting Middle School teachers
"excited" about using a hands-on approach to learning, getting parents to
accept the idea that being able to quote facts is not necessarily the best
indicator that learning has occurred, and making sure that a modular
curriculum will implement the Virginia Science Standards of Learning.

Being restricted to the use of the three approved elementary science
curricula may eventually be a barrier for us also.

Being new to the "change" game, I don't feel that I have a lot to offer.
I hate to be a rider of coat tails, but I'm anxious to learn from those of
you with lots of experience.

Janie West

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