Communication Center  Conference  Projects Share  Reports from the Field Resources  Library  LSC Project Websites  NSF Program Notes
 How to Use this site    Contact us  LSC-Net: Local Systemic Change Network
Best Practices

Queries and Replies


Bulletin Board

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

 previous post
 next post
 main /index
posted by: Gail Paulin on August 16, 1999 at 11:19AM
subject: MS discussion
In response to my starting statements, Scott Hayes had the following question

How was the district-wide adoption conducted? Since we in LASERS work
across seven different districts, I am looking for ways to direct
(facilitate?) a similar adoption by all seven districts.

Our last K-12 Science adoption was preceeded by a series of meetings (we
had release time in those days) to review our state essestial skills and
create CORE standards. There was a representative from each middle school
as part of this team ( each HS had reps, elementary schools... a certain %
of the 74 schools were invited.I can't recall exactly, worked with HS and
MS at the time. ) THEN this group of MS teachers met to reveiw the
materials submitted from various publishers. They used a checklist to
review materails which had our standards, and various criterion related to
equity and methodology. WE had to adpot materials that were in Spanish and
in English! Some of these teachers actually tried out units of the
materials. In the final stages , we voted ( the decision came down to
Sceince Plus, Glencoe... it was split nearly 50/50. The deciding points
were 1) we could do a better job of support (PD) if we chose one program,
2) The Science Plus was less a text, more a guide and therefore would
encourage more student investigation than readiong about science.3) This
approach seemd more in step with the kit based adoption that the elementary
was choosing ( FOSS) .
The main concern was lack of print reference materia ( CONTENT), we
proposed that supplimental resource libraries be provided for each
classroom. the problem was... there were insufficient funds to support this
recomendation, consequently to this day, many MS teachers feel shorted in
terms of print materials. Some schools bought supplimental texts from their
own funds, but the resource collection concept never got district central
support. They went "on" to another subject adoption. ( Incidentally the 92
adooption was the LAST time we will consent to adopting a program K-12. To
do it properly required WAY more than the state $ allocation and we were
spread very thinly in terms of adequately facilitating these choices at all
levels simutaneously) Now we are doing a grade level or content area at a
time. We are also NOT having to necessarily throwing out what we had but in
the best instances, we a building on what we selected previously. This is
particulalry true at the elementary level.

What we find with Science Plus is that as a rule 6th grade teacher ( who
tend to be elementary trained) and those new to science teaching are more
willing to use the Science Plus program provided their school has
maintained adequate materials to support it. There are a number of
secondary trained MS teachers who are annoyed that they have no text,
becuse they are used to having a text as a given. Other expereinced
teachers who are" lab" or inquiry oriented are doing some Sci Plus but
are supplimenting with their own developed or adapated units. they do not
find the program "compelling" enough to switch

One dilemma I see is that we need to have a program that can be adaptive
enough that new teachers with limited or no science background can
implement AND that will accomodate the adaptation that expereinced teachers
want to provide. A program that serves either one exclusively will
jeopardize students serverly. This is why, at this time, before we adopt
again, we must clearly identify what the needs of our teachers are and how
we can build concensus to implement an equitable program which encourages
students to understand and apply the science they are doing.

Scott asked:
" I suspect that a single adoption -- whether one series adopted by all
districts or different series adopted by each district -- will not provide
the support for inquiry/investigation and it will need to be supplemented,
as seems to be the case here with CHEM and GEMS.
Was there a process by which teachers at each grade level were made aware
of the possible
supplemental sources . . . ?
Gail's response
...yes, supplimental GEMS were adopted at the same time as SP . CHEM was
introduiced as a result of our work with the IEOSL porject at Lawrence
Hall. It was well likes by the participants and added to the supplimental
list which adresse your s HOw to use them

how to use them . . . . the advantages of using them . . . . consensus on
which parts should be used when and how. We did conduct inservices the
first and second year after adoption they were voluntary, some teachers
came some could or would not.
(etc) OR did each teacher or each school come to its own decisions? At the
time., each site was allowed to choose what 4 untis of the 8 they woudl use
at each grade level. This was done to help teachers apply their particualr
content comfort/expertise. In retrospect, it would have been better to
decide this. Now that we have new state standards, this wasone of the first
tasks our porject is undertaking. linking specific units and GEMS to the
standards and suggesting waht should be taught. We will then ask teachers
for feedback as to how this can work their sites and make necessary

Whoasks the teachers to select 4 units from SP our ditsrict MS science
Specialist , and in what ways are teachers held accountable for doing that?
this was lacking, we are now gaining principal support which should be
helpful . We will alos look at assessment.

Even more important, since this is
probably the vehicle we will use to generate a need for inquiry and to try
to drive a single, cross-district adoption, what process(es) did you use to
develop the Scope and Sequence to which you refer. I will refer you r
question to Jonathan Bekcer hwo had been working with this this past year.

Gotta go now

This is likely way more than Scott wanted in terms of reply. I am very
interested in learning about what other folks are thinking and doing.

Gail Paulin
TUSD Science Resource Center
 main /index

 previous post
 next post