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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

submitter: GEMS-NET (Guiding Education in Math & Science Network)
description: Copyright 1998 by GEMS-NET
All rights reserved
published: 11/25/1998
posted to site: 11/25/1998
(Guiding Education in Math & Science Network, Rhode Island)

Part I. Annual Overview

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 over 40 scientists and science educators from the University of Rhode Island. GEMS-NET, which began with funding from local school districts and Eisenhower Higher Education funds in October 1996, became a Local Systemic Change on May 1, 1998. The project provides professional development in science content, pedagogy, and appropriate embedded assessment methodology for all 341 1-6 teachers, 21 kindergarten teacher science leaders from six districts as well as 20 elementary (1-6) science teachers in a seventh district. The project is working with 10 science teachers (7th and 8th grade) in five of the partner districts. Additionally, the professional development sessions include special education resource teachers and preservice teachers from URI's elementary teacher education program.

The primary objectives of GEMS-NET are to:

  • provide high quality professional development in science content, pedagogical, and assessment knowledge of 392 K-8 teachers who serve over 17,000 children in 51 Rhode Island schools,

  • develop the science content and leadership skills of a cadre of teacher trainer/leaders and Teachers-In-Residence who can continue to serve the districts beyond the life of the grant,

  • provide classroom level assistance through classroom coaching and internet-based trouble shooting,

  • train teachers to utilize exemplary inquiry-based, hands-on science kits/materials 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 (approximately 150) URI elementary preservice teachers,

  • build communities of learners with K-8 teachers, elementary preservice teachers, science educators, and scientists from URI and science related industries to foster reflection on science teaching practice,

  • enable scientists and 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,

  • enable scientists to establish teacher connections aimed at keeping 7-8 science content current,

  • develop a series of kit-based performance assessments to gauge childrens attainment of benchmarks related to science content and process as outlined by the RI Science Framework,

  • establish the mechanisms to maintain science materials through a partnership between teachers, districts and the NSF funded, KITES Project Materials Resource Center, and

  • establish a sustainable framework for science education reform.

Major Accomplishments:

  • Provided 333 hours or 3,649 teacher-hours of professional development in science curriculum, basic science kit training, science content and leadership in teh first eight months of funding. These training sessions included 21 release-day sessions, 12 Summer Institutes, and one Middle School Science Summit.

  • Presented workshops and courses which introduced teachers to the FOSS and STC science kits being implemented in grade 1-6, developed leadership skills of trainers, explored the science content of kits, developed performance assessments for 5 kits, and introduced teachers to a variety of science resources throughout the state of Rhode Island.

  • Continued training teachers so that ALL teachers in grades 1-6 will use two (2) kits and all lead teachers will use three (3) kits in their classrooms this year. This training will enable teachers to use 783 kits this year, up form 467 kit uses last year.

  • Introduced 7th and 8th grade teachers to inquiry-based middle school science materials including Event Based Science and Toxic Waste (SEPUPS). These materials are being used, on a trial basis, by 10 teachers this year.

  • Provided kit orientation and inquiry-based science methods instruction for all 90 of URI's elementary teacher education students.

  • Included 15 student teachers in kit training sessions this fall.

  • Recruited over 30 scientists who have devoted a combined total of 300 hours to mentoring teacher in science content related to kits.

  • Recruited an additional 17 scientists from the University of Rhode Island, environmental organizations, and provide industry to assist teachers and students in developing greater science content knowledge.

  • Organized a Scientist-Teacher Alliance workshop (designed by the American Physical Society) that introduced 31 scientists from the GEMS-NET and KITES project to effective ways to work with teachers.

  • Developed a 22-page GEMS-NET website as a resource to GEMS-NET teachers.

  • Programmed an elaborate FileMaker Pro database to maintain GEMS-Net training and kit records.

  • Hired three Scientist/Teachers-in-Residence to assist with the development of kit performance assessments and provide classroom coaching for GEMS-NET teachers.

  • Met monthly to plan upcoming events with the Steering Committee comprised of 2-3 teachers from each district and the GEMS-NET PI's and staff.

  • Secured the continued support of seven GEMS-NET superintendents who have agreed to purchase enough science kits for each teacher in grades K-6 to use three kits by the end of next year, pay for materials refurbishing costs, allow teachers to attend 7 school day workshops over the next five years, and pay for half of the substitute costs to replace teachers in training.

  • Documented over $88,000 in district cost share.

  • Worked with the GEMS-NET superintendents and the KITES project staff to secure state funding for the Material Resource Center.

  • Assisted in extending high quality science training opportunities to other Rhode Island school districts.

  • Hired and organized a GEMS-NET Central staff to be responsive to teacher needs.

  • Collaborated with other science education providers to extend the menu of science professional development for teachers.