Part I. Annual Overview 2001-2002
Project Description--The Guiding Education in Math & Science Network (GEMS-NET) project involves a partnership among K-8 teachers from seven Rhode Island school districts and 89 scientists, engineers, and science educators from the University of Rhode Island. GEMS-NET began with funding from local school districts and Eisenhower Higher Education funds in October 1996 and became an LSC on May 1, 1998. In the last year the project provided professional development in science content, pedagogy, and appropriate embedded assessment methodology for 428 K-6 teachers, 23 elementary (1-6) science specialist teachers. The project worked with 45 science teachers (7th and 8th grade) in the partner districts. Over the life of the project, GEMS-NET has provided professional development for 608 teachers in our seven districts. Additionally, the PD sessions have included 58 special education/support service teachers and 14 substitute teachers and aids from GEMS-NET districts, and 231 visiting teachers from non-project districts. All of the 248 elementary education preservice teachers in the last four years received instruction in inquiry methods and using quality kit materials in their science methods. Eighty-four of these student teachers have received additional professional development in our regular sessions for veteran teachers. Thus, in all, our database shows that we have served 911 teachers at some point in the project.
The primary objectives of GEMS-NET are to:
- provide high quality professional development in science content, pedagogical, and assessment knowledge of all K-8 teachers who serve more than 19,000 children in GEMS-NET's 53 Rhode Island schools,
- develop the content and leadership skills of a growing cadre of 57 teacher leaders,
- provide classroom level assistance through classroom coaching and internet-based help,
- train teachers to utilize exemplary inquiry-based, hands-on science kits in delivering a core science curriculum which is aligned with national science reform initiatives,
- incorporate the use of inquiry pedagogy and kit-based science teaching in the curriculum for all (248 thus far) URI elementary and elementary/middle pre-service teachers,
- build communities of learners with K-8 teachers, pre-service teachers, science educators, and scientists to foster reflection on science teaching practice,
- enable scientists and K-8 teachers to incorporate connections between kits and Rhode Island ecosystems and science related industry as well as to examine interconnections among branches of science and across grade level kits,
- implement the new generation of kit-based science (STC Middle) to teachers in grades 7-8,
- establish the mechanisms to maintain science materials through East Bay Materials Resource Center, and
- establish a sustainable framework for science education reform that includes the continued use of high quality materials, systematic refurbishment, continued PD for new and grade changing teachers, and continued collaboration with science mentors.
Major Accomplishments 2001-2002:
- Provided 2,255 hours of professional development in science curriculum, basic science kit training, science content and leadership in the first 56 months of funding. With our previous professional development efforts under an Eisenhower grant, the total hours of programming has reached 2,546 hours or 39,901 teacher/hours of PD. The NSF funding sponsored 225 release-day sessions, 34 Summer Institutes, and 12 semester courses.
- Made school committee presentations of "Century Club" certificates to 80 GEMS-NET teachers who have participated in at least 100 hours of professional development.
- Added 146 sampling frame teachers to the 100-hour professional development project.
- Continued training teachers so that ALL teachers in grades 1-6 use three (3) kits in their classrooms this year; kindergarten teachers use two (2) kits. This training will enable teachers to use 1,770 kits this year, up from 1,720 kit uses last year.
- Trained 7th /8th grade teachers to inquiry-based middle school science materials including STC-Middle Modules, Event Based Science, Toxic Waste (SEPUPS) and PASCO probes.
- Provided 447 hours of inquiry-based science PD information for 71 administrators.
- Included 84 student teachers in kit training sessions totaling 911 hours.
- Introduced all 248 URI's elementary teacher education students the last four years to use of kit-based inquiry science by co-teaching the elementary science methods courses using Teachers-in-Residence along with the University science education professor.
- Recruited 89 scientists/engineers from the University of Rhode Island, environmental organizations, and private industry, who have devoted a combined total of 3,250 hours (663 in the last year) to assist teachers and students in developing greater science content knowledge related to kits.
- Held three Leadership & Inquiry Retreats each attended by 23-25 teacher leader/trainers, 12-14 scientists, 5-6 district/university administrators, 1-2 observers (e.g., Fred Stein from Exploratorium), and 3-4 GEMS-NET staff members.
- Developed a GEMS-NET website with more than 100 pages of resources.
- Programmed a FileMaker Pro database to maintain GEMS-NET training and kit records.
- Programmed a web-based Beta version of an interactive kit and training schedule.
- Written and distributed 11 GEMS-NET Newsletters.
- Developed special instructional materials and guides (e.g., GEMS-NET Writing Prompts, Simple Machines Guide, GlowBugs unit, K Seasons, and Narragansett Bay Ecosystems).
- Worked with 12 Teachers-in-Residence to assist all aspects of training and teacher support.
- Met monthly with the Steering Committee comprised of 2-3 teachers from each district.
- Maintained the continued support of 7 GEMS-NET superintendents.
- Documented over $715,273 in district cost share, up from $539,384 documented last year.
- Secured over $400,000 in state funding for the East Bay Material Resource Center.
- Assisted in extending high quality science training opportunities to other Rhode Island school districts by providing 3,548 teacher hours of PD for non-GEMS-NET teachers.
- Collaborated with other science education providers to extend the menu of science professional development for teachers (e.g., Save the Bay, URI Marine Programs).
- Provided 44 hours of training for 28 parent volunteers to help teachers with science.