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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

submitter: Building Bridges to the Future: The Next Generation of Science-Enabled Elementary School Teachers
published: 12/10/1998
posted to site: 12/10/1998

Part I. Annual Overview

Project Description.

The "Building Bridges to the Future" LSC project seeks to bring systemic change in the teaching of science in the 40 elementary school in 14 mostly small and rural school districts in northeastern Indiana. A major component of the strategy being tested is development of a core of teachers in each school who are well-versed in elementary school science concepts, competent in inquiry-centered pedagogy, conversant with state and national standards, prepared to teach other teachers, and able to provide leadership in their schools and districts in concert with administrators. A major goal is the adoption of a standards-based curriculum which is successfully implemented through the use of exemplary instructional materials. An accompanying goal is the building of capacity in each district and the realization of changes which will allow the reforms to be institutionalized.

There are four groups of teachers in the model:

1) Cadre A consists of a primary and intermediate teacher from each school. They received three years of professional development in science knowledge and skills and science pedagogy, taught by LSC project staff, including three-week institutes in the summers of 1995 and 1996, a two-week institute in the summer of 1997, and academic year monthly classes in 1995-96, 1996-97, and 1997-98. As they become more confident and skilled, they take on increasing levels of leadership responsibility. In the summer of 1998, some Cadre A teachers participated in an eight-day institute focusing on leadership, and taught in LSC regional workshops.

2) Cadre B consists of a second set of primary and intermediate teachers from each school. They began with a three-week institute in the summer of 1997. Their formal professional development will parallel that of Cadre A teachers, and will be taught by LSC staff. They collaborate in reform efforts with Cadre A teachers and add to the critical mass.

3) Science Associates are colleagues of Cadre teachers who make an academic year commitment to attend project classes with a Cadre mentor and to learn to teach inquiry-based science teaching by working with the Cadre teacher during the year.

4) the remaining teachers in each school enhance their science knowledge and pedagogy through workshops and teaching leadership provided by Cadre teachers.

Concurrently, administrators, including superintendents, curriculum directors, and principals, become involved and educated as major players in the process through a series of formal and informal activities.

Major Accomplishments and Lessons Learned.

1) Cadre A teachers are providing substantial leadership in their schools in the form of teaching professional development sessions, mentoring Science Associates, leading team teaching and team planning in science instruction, providing expertise in developing school plans for science, and participating on district curriculum and textbook selection committees.

2) Cadre B teachers are gaining skill and confidence in teaching inquiry-based science, have formed collaborative relationships with Cadre A and B teachers in their schools, and are adding to the critical mass of knowledgeable teachers.

3) Each district has made progress on, or completed, a science curriculum scope and sequence which is aligned with standards.

4) Our participants are becoming more knowledgeable and supportive through the efforts and science teaching performance of the Cadre A and B teachers, and through our special efforts to meet with them individually and in small groups, as well as planning specific academic year meetings in which they must function as team leaders with their teachers.

5) Districts have substantially increased their capacity for professional development and for sustaining reform, although they still have a way to go.

6) 428 of about 640 targeted teachers have experienced varying degrees of professional development delivered by project Staff. Additional teachers have been reached by Cadre teachers in formal in-services and by informal means.

7) All Cadre A and B teachers received e-mail addresses. Cadre B teachers have had experience gathering information from science-rich websites, and have used software for databases and graphing.

Specific strategies that appear to be effective for us are:

1) using exemplary materials in Cadre A and B Institutes as springboards for the study of science concepts which are then given additional content depth through the investigation of participants' questions and through activities of our scientists-in-residence;

2) involving district curriculum directors in reform in a major way;

3) enhancing the science knowledge and skills and specific leadership skills of Cadre teachers.