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
Newsclippings and Press Releases

LSC Reference Materials

LSC Case Study Reports

Annual Report Overviews

Summer Workshop Plans

Annual Report Overviews


Annual Report Overview

submitter: Bay Area Schools for Excellence in Education
published: 03/02/1998
posted to site: 03/02/1998

Bay Area Schools for Excellence in Education
Annual Overview Report
December 1, 1997

Project Description

Bay Area Schools for Excellence in Education (BASEE) is an eight district collaborative working with Hewlett Packard Company to improve science instruction for elementary students. The project vision is to provide science content training for approximately 1800 teachers and administrators with models of excellent pedagogy. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the participating districts include: Cupertino Union School District, Los Altos School district, Menlo Park School District, Mountain View School District, Palo Alto Unified School District, Redwood City School District, Santa Clara Unified School District and Whisman School District. Each of the districts has participated in Hewlett Packard's Hands-On Science Program which included training at the National Science Resources Center in Washington, DC and a three-year $90,000 grant. Each district has had a successful initial curriculum launch. The BASEE project seeks to sustain those efforts and boost districts to the next level with all students learning science and its connections to their world of experience in lively, inquiry-based lessons. Professional development activities are designed to feature science with meaningful connections to math, literacy and technology.

Recognizing that teachers and administrators have different professional development needs, BASEE has designed training in five different strands:

  • Nuts & Bolts - This strand introduces new teachers, or those new to the curriculum, to the science kits.

  • Ongoing Content & Pedagogy - These week-long, in-depth summer institutes offer content background with rich examples of good teaching. In 1998 the content focus is physical science.

  • Leadership - Lead teachers from each school site receive many opportunities to hone their skills in working with colleagues. These include: coaching, dealing with change and resistance, laptop training for reporting and online communications, and a weeklong Inquiry Leadership Institute.

  • Administrators - Special workshops for principals and district administrators provide help with science supervision and support

  • Science Resource Teacher Professional Development - The SRTs require ongoing opportunities to nurture their growth and development.

Each BASEE district has a science resource teacher (SRT) who overseesthe science implementation within the district, supervises the kit refurbishment operation and is the link between BASEE and the districts. The SRT team is responsible for the design and delivery of the professional development offerings. In addition, BASEE employs outside consultants and scientist volunteers as presenters of content background.

Lead teachers at each of the 86 school sites supervise the kit usage at the site, lead faculty meetings around science and maintain communication with the district SRT and mentor their colleagues. The leads are members of the school site leadership team which guides the development of the school site science plan. Each school receives a small budget to support its approved science plan. In addition, each school site receives a laptop computer from Hewlett Packard to help maintain online communications across the districts.

Project Summary

In the six months that BASEE has been in operation, a variety of introductory activities have been successfully completed. During the summer months, BASEE developed a handbook to be used at each school site for becoming acquainted with the project vision, its membership and leadership and for developing their school site science plans.

SRTs in teams of two visited exemplary institutes to collect ideas for best practices in professional development. Scouts observed the Merck Institute, California ScienceProject, Bay Area Earth Science Institute, The Exploratorium and the Cray Institute.

Susan Loucks-Horsley led the SRT team through a three day training program which resulted in the development of a BASEE science learning model, a science lesson observation rubric, and new understanding about change management. Two days of coaching training followed. Next, the SRT team learned how to facilitate discussions in professional development Cases with Judith Schulman from WestEd. This prepared the SRTs for being presenters at the October, Next Step Institute in Seattle. Two SRTs are now writers for content Cases. Working with WestEd, BASEE teachers will pilot the new Cases in small discussion groups to increase their content background.

Over 240 new teachers were treated to an upbeat science introduction from David Heil of Newton's Apple. In the afternoon, they met with kit experts to learn the hands-on kits they would teach first. Two more sessions are available to them during the school year when they are ready to teach unit #2 and #3.

The superintendents, assistant superintendents, advisory board, and principals have all attended workshop sessions that introduced them to the project, solicited their sponsorship and for the principals, provided a mini workshop on supervising classroom science. Lead teachers received a day of professional development centered on their new roles: how to cheerlead for science at school sites and provide guidance for writing the school site plans and models of science pedagogy. About half of the lead teacher group has participated in a day of laptop training before receiving the school site Omnibook.

Ramon Lopez and Susan Loucks-Horsley both provided additional training for the SRTs in the early fall. Ramon's guidance helped the team use the jigsaw model to develop the summer content training plans. With Susan, the group focused on reluctance and how to deal with it.

Much of the SRT's team time has been devoted to developing project guidelines - those policy issues that will effect long range plans. Also, subgroups are addressing the extended planning required for the various week-long professional development institutes planned for next summer as well as the staff development days and grade level meetings in each district.

Lessons Learned

The most challenging lesson has been recognizing that the number of project activities was much too ambitious in the given timeframe. It's easy to create a calendar which reflects just the needs of the project. But BASEE SRTs have significant roles in their districts which also have very full calendars. Consequently SRTs must balance the project plans with demands of their districts. The over-full calendar situation was exacerbated by an unrealistic laptop training schedule. We were expecting two SRT presenters along with one classroom teacher to deliver the training for all 86 lead teachers in groups of 12. This meant an enormous number of preparation hours as well as evening programs since many of our schools no longer allow substitutes for released time. We worried about SRT burn out and have made a midcourse change by stretching out the calendared dates and including some outside consultant help with presentations.