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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Report Overview

submitter: Building Bridges to the Future: The Next Generation of Science-Enabled Elementary School Teachers
published: 02/05/1998
posted to site: 02/05/1998
Project description. The "Building Bridges to the Future" project seeks to bring about systemic change in the teaching of science in 40 elementary schools in 14 mostly small and rural school districts in northeastern Indiana. A major component of the strategy being tested in this project is development of a core of teachers in each school who are well versed in elementary school concepts, competent in an inquiry-centered approach to science teaching, prepared to teach other teachers, and able to provide leadership in their schools and districts in concert with administrators.

To this end we began work in the summer of 1995 with Cadre A, consisting of a teacher in grades K-3 and an upper elementary grade teacher from each school. The three-week summer institutes, separate for primary and intermediate teachers, organized instruction around broad concepts, identified from Benchmarks and the National Science Education Standards, with teachers exploring the concepts in-depth through lessons from exemplary modules such as those produced by STC, Insights, and FOSS. During the 1995-96 academic year, teachers met once a month for classes, practiced teaching inquiry-centered science in their classrooms, were visited twice by project staff, planned and presented a "make-it, take-it" session at the annual conference of the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, and documented progress in a portfolio.

In the second three-week summer institute, in 1996, Cadre A teachers explored additional science concepts and began to focus on leadership skills with the preparation of hands-on workshops which they presented at the state science convention the following winter and to their school staff. The academic year of 1996-97 followed a pattern similar to the first year, but leadership responsibilities grew with the identification and mentoring by each Cadre A teacher of a Science Associate, another teacher from the school who also attended academic year classes. In the summer of 1997, the two-week institute included more work on concepts, but also preparation for teachers to participate during 1997-98 in leadership activities such as those associated with the every sixth-year, state-mandated textbook selection process, and participation on a leadership team within each school which is charged with putting a school plan for science improvement into place. An advanced leadership institute of one week in the summer of 1998 will prepare about half of the Cadre A teachers for additional leadership tasks.

In the summer of 1997, a second cycle of teacher enhancement began. Cadre B experiences will be patterned after those of Cadre A, with the new set of teachers receiving three years of in-depth instruction, working with additional Science Associates, exercising leadership within the schools, and providing a critical mass for sustaining improvements within the schools.