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Discussion: Exploring a Case Study

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posted by: Gail Paulin on May 29, 2000 at 4:17PM
subject: Wondering
I m Gail Paulin, Project Director for TUSDs DESERT Project in Tucson. We
are now beginning our third year of our K-8 science project in 94 sites
(1500 teachers) and reeling from the prospect of supporting the cohort
schools we have started on their reform journey while bringing on new
(Some of you are chuckling now)
Since I had had the opportunity to read and witness Kays masterful Case
Study session for the PI meeting, I took my vaporous time to read the
article by Stein,Smith and Silver posted for this discussion this Memorial
Day morning!
I winced as I compared the two settings, Franklin and Riverside, I see
versions of both in our K-8 project. In the K-5 curriculum we have a
combination of the NSF developed modules, So we proceeded as in Riverside
to link closely to this strong curriculum and materials support. This works
for awhile, but as in the example, after 3 years we really need to shift to
another type of PD which will address the needs on site in classrooms. but
we still need to include ways to orient new teachers to the kits. A
mentoring setting would be ideal, but Stein s article also points to the
problems of expecting the experienced helping the inexperienced with out
time for their own growth. We are encouraging study groups on student
work we will know more in the next year (last year 4 schools ran these
groups, all were positive, but had trouble staying to the protocol.) This is
not necessairily a problem, just an observation.

Our middle school effort has a weaker curriculum to support it. . (Others
of you will note, this is not a new storyJ) Science Plus is the main
vehicle. Since we know we want to introduce replacement units to supplement
this curriculum, we have focused on having site teams meet together to
document the scope and sequence they are teaching, how it aligns with our
core requirements and then get teachers to select new materials to fill in
our holes and perhaps phase out the Science Plus (as more MS exemplars
become available) At any rate, the MS groups are going more like Franklin.
There is a high turnover rate and we have a few teachers at each site that
is really willing to do the tough work. We don t want to burn them out!
They have done a lot to help.

This paper is fascinating. I have confirmation that many folks struggle
with these issues as we retool our thinking about what "fertilizes
professional growth ". I am thinking about how we prepare "professional
developers " and can we really expect classroom teachers to take the lions
share of this role without changing what it is we expect them to do as
professional educators? The lesson study groups recently mentioned on the
NARST list serve, look interesting. I am a really big fan of teacher
research, but I know this can seem intimidating. I think the case study
approach is excellent to get people talking, for raising the issues that
folks may have but are hesitant to lay on the table until trust develops.
I suspect, as a P D er I am more interested in these than classroom
teachers, who don t have time to "sit and talk when they have 150 kids
coming for science tomorrow".

I have no answers, even our discussions are limited by the amount of time
we have to share our thinking with others on the list. This community is
such an incredible resource. I wish I didn t so often feel like I was
wasting it, for lack of time. Thanks for listening!
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