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Summer Workshop Plans


Report Overviews

published: 10/08/1998
posted to site: 10/08/1998

Report Overviews

From time to time the LSC-Net staff will post short notes, discussing themes and issues that appear in the reports. It is our hope that this will help the LSC community to identify what it is learning from its experience.


So far, 26 summer workshop agendas have been posted--17 from projects which focus on science, 5 from projects focusing on mathematics, and 4 from projects focusing on both. We have prepared this overview to help LSC staff make use of this interesting material as they consider their own programs. We will collect material in the coming year that shows how projects use the summer to set up their work for the rest of the year.

Features of The Workshops

Audience and Duration
The workshops described in these agendas are for teachers new to the project, typical classroom teachers, lead teachers, facilitators, and principals or other administrators. The workshops range in length from 1-day to 3-weeks. Some projects offer one workshop each summer, others more than one, to address different needs and different audiences. For example, Science Connections offers one workshop that emphasizes pedagogy and one on science units and content. Mesa offers "Applying Computers in Education" in addition to science and math institutes.

Workshop sequences
Several projects offer workshops that build upon the work done in the previous year. In such projects, teachers are introduced to the concepts of inquiry-based learning and develop their content knowledge in the first year. The second year consists of more advanced courses for experienced teachers. The third year varies depending on the goals of the project. For example, BASEE focuses on developing lead teachers, TEAM 2000 offers an Integrated Level, in which professional development revolves around study groups of experienced teachers who pursue an in-depth study of pedagogical topics; in Building Bridges and Reaching Every Teacher, lead teachers design workshops for introductory level teachers. Other models provide content experiences for teachers which build upon the teacher's previous experiences. For example, the KEYSTONE project devotes its second year to a Field Experience project for teachers who have already attended their introductory content workshops.

Content of The Workshops

Almost all projects provide training in math or science content, in assessment, and in pedagogy (i.e., understanding inquiry and how to promote inquiry based work). Many projects also provide training in the use of computer technology, either in relation to inquiry-based science and math or for increasing technology skills. Topics offered by only a few projects include: integrating writing and science (LASERS, TESS, and MPS); working with LEP students (KITES) or students and adults in poverty (MPS); using student journals (MARS and TEAM 2000); working with museums (TEAM 2000); and involving parents in the school (KITES and Keystone). Some workshops focus almost entirely on module training but also discuss the pedagogy behind inquiry -based science through this training.

Methods Used For Introducing And Assessing Content In The Workshops

Most workshops are staffed and led by teacher facilitators, and most also have scientists providing content. The BASEE project, for example, had a university professor, a science resource teacher (who knows the curriculum and what's appropriate for children at each grade level), and a volunteer scientist to bring real-world connections to the topic and arrange for a content related field trip.

Projects typically introduced content through lectures, discussion groups, analyzing student work samples, lesson analysis (including using the HRI videos), and hands-on activities. Some (e.g. Science Connections) had participants work on science projects and share them on the last day. The SMART PROCESS project used reflective journal writing as a way to foster teacher learning.

Two projects make use of summer schools: The TESS project offers a "Demonstration Summer School" course in which "concurrent teachers and administrator institutes observe lessons, reflect on practices and related issues pertaining to the implementation of high quality mathematics and science programs at their school sites." The MARS project actually runs a summer school with over 300 students, which gives teachers a chance to apply their training in practice. After two weeks of a workshop, teachers conduct a 1-hour math class and a 1-hour science class. This third week also affords time for teacher debriefing and planning for the next day's classes.

Most workshops are conducted on-site, but many do offer off-site field trips. The KEYSTONE project offers two field experience workshops for their Level Two teachers: (1) an environmental camp in the mountains, led by the University of Montana and (2) Egg Mountain dinosaur dig, led by Montana State University, which provides experience working with Jack Homer and other paleontologists.

Workshop Evaluation
Most projects have time set aside for evaluation of the workshop, but projects have not sent much description of the processes they used to evaluate their workshops. The RMTC project does pre- and post-tests (consisting of items from student assessments for the units studied in the workshop) to evaluate participant learning in the workshop. It would be valuable if other projects could send brief accounts of the way they evaluate their workshops

Workshops For Lead Teachers

There are many kinds of "Teacher Leaders" in LSC projects, with titles such as School Facilitator, Science Resource Specialist; Master Trainers; and Liaison Teachers. While the responsibilities of each position differ according to the needs of their project, it is still interesting to note similarities and differences in training for these lead teachers. Lead teachers receive training in pedagogy, content, and assessment. In addition, lead teachers discuss teachers' content needs, increase their understanding of the professional development opportunities available to teachers, and prepare to use their leadership positions to support improved science teaching.

In some projects, lead teachers are trained to design and conduct professional development for their peers. The workshop descriptions posted by the Building Bridges, Reaching Every Teacher, and Partnership for Elementary Science Education (PESE) projects outline how those projects train lead teachers to design and implement workshops.

For example, the PESE project holds a two-day workshop in which lead teachers identify components of a good workshop and develop a workshop plan in which they would teach many of the activities while modeling good instructional practices.

For teachers who have been with the project for three years and show themselves to be skilled inquiry-based teachers, the Building Bridges project offers an Advanced Leadership Institute to help teachers "become more insightful about the process of development opportunities and engaging colleagues in it." Teachers then plan and conduct 3-day workshops for teachers new to inquiry-based science.

The Valle Imperial Project (VIPS) offers a 3-day workshop which brings together the student teachers and faculty supervisors in a university's preservice teacher program with classroom teachers who participate in VIPS. The student/mentor relationship begins with an exploration of what is high- quality instruction, and the roles of the teacher and the student teacher in the classroom. Teachers learned science with a hands-on approach and discussed videos of teachers in action.

Workshops For Principals And Administrators

Six projects outline professional development for administrators, principals, and superintendents. Administrators typically received training in content, inquiry, and assessment, but they also were involved in discussions of their role in promoting and sustaining change. Other topics that were covered included training in organizational change (Metro Nashville), working with students from poverty (MPS), or developing goals and plans for improving next year's student achievement (TESS). The DESERT project designed their workshop to introduce principals to the project, to an exemplary inquiry-based science education, and to ways that administrators can support teachers' professional development.