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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

submitter: National School District Systemic Teacher Enhancement Project (NSSTE)
published: 12/10/1998
posted to site: 12/10/1998

National School District Systemic Teacher Enhancement Project


Annual Report

(September 1, 1997 —August 31, 1998)


Submitted by:

Robert A. Dean, Director

Melanie C. Dean, Director


The National School District in collaboration with the University of California, San Diego, the National City government, the community, institutions of higher education, business and industry initiated this local systemic change project to change science education in the National School District. The four-year project has three goals:

  1. To implement an inquiry oriented; activity based science curriculum, which articulates with the California Science framework, the California Implementation Network (CSIN), the California Advocacy for Math and Science (CAMS) and the national Standards in Science.
  2. To upgrade the science content background, pedagogy, technology utilization, language acquisition and leadership skills of the entire staff in the national School District.
  3. To initiate systemic reform through collaboration among students, educators, parents, community and businesses resulting in shared decision-making and broad based systemic change.

Year three of the NCSSTEP Project consisted of a summer program with two weeks of intensive classroom instruction and seven academic year follow-up meetings. In addition there were various activities which included seven Mini three-day Institutes, Science Discovery days, Family Science nights, District Science Days and Curriculum Nights. The summer program focused on the use of instructional materials for hands-on activities, content update in the area of the physical sciences, extensions to classroom activities for participant understanding and background, as well as field experiences.

  1. Professional Development

The seventy lead teachers participating in the summer and academic year programs for 1997-98 will have had over 150 hours of inservice during the three years of this project. This represents 21% of the teacher population in the district. Additional 90 teachers in the district have had over 100 hours of professional development during this time period. Approximately 50 teachers have had in excess of 60 hours of professional development. The remaining 90 staff members have had over 30 hours of inservice/staff development during the three years of the project. The project staff has organized three-day mini-institutes during year three of the project to provide additional staff development opportunities with the Master teachers and UCSD science faculty. Plans are under way to continue this model to include mini-institutes per grade level during year four of the project.

Academic Year Programs — 1997 — 1998

Each school in the district developed a school plan for 1997-98. A BI-monthly NSSTEP newsletter titled " National Science Connection"is distributed to every teacher in the district. This publication sets forth all science inservice opportunities. (See appendix) Each school has a science liaison whose responsibility is to coordinate the professional development at the school site. Six joint meetings were held for the science liaison representatives to plan activities at their site. (see appendix for School Plans). The activities at each school included:


  • Science Discovery Day, November 7
  • Inventors Showcase
  • Family Science nights
  • Staff Development sessions: Literacy & Literature Connections, Bilingual/Special Education Connections
  • Stein Farm Integration (monthly: Oct-Mar)


  • District Science Day, Nov 7
  • Science Day
  • Curriculum Night
  • Family Science nights
  • Staff Development sessions: Literacy & Literature Connections, FOSS Workshops


  • District Science Day, Nov 7
  • Science Discovery Day, Sept 29
  • Parent Involvement
  • Staff Development sessions: Follow-up FOSS workshops

New Horizons/El Toyon

  • District Science Day, Nov 7
  • Science Read-In/Writing
  • Science Discovery Day, Sept 25
  • Inventors Showcase, spring open-house
  • Stein Farm Integration: twice monthly (Oct-March)
  • Staff Development sessions: Connections Committee, Staff sharing by grade levels

Ira Harbison

  • District Science Day, Nov 7
  • Science Discovery Day
  • Curriculum Night (Fall open house)
  • Parent Involvement

Las Palmas

  • District Science Day, Nov 7
  • Science Discovery Day, Spring
  • Inventors Showcase
  • Family Science Night
  • Del Mar Fair — Science Art Presentations
  • Parent Involvement
  • Stein Farm Integration — once a week (Oct-March)
  • Staff Development sessions: Literacy/Literature connections, Grade level networking with FOSS Modules.

Palmer Way

  • District Science Day, Nov 7
  • Multicultural Day — tie in science with history and culture
  • Stein Farm — every other month (Oct-March)
  • Parent Involvement
  • Staff Development sessions: Two meetings to discuss FOSS kits and portfolios

Lincoln Acres

  • District Science Day, Nov 7
  • Science Fair, February
  • Back to School Night — science/math focus
  • Parent Involvement
  • Staff Development sessions: FOSS modules and videos during lunch, Connection Committee


  • District Science Day, Nov 7
  • Science Discovery Day, March
  • Parent Involvement
  • Staff Development sessions: A Child’s Place in the Environment, FOSS training


Saturday, September 13, 1997 the participants attended an all day workshop at the Palomar Observatory from 3:00 p.m. — 12:00 a.m. They were able to participate in a behind the scene tour of the giant telescopes with the resident astronomer who provided background on the work at Palomar and answered participant questions.


Saturday, November 1, 1997, the participants participated in a S.E.E.D (San Diego Environmental Education) presentation where they shared ideas from Master Teachers to integrate literature and music with the FOSS units.

Seven 3-day, grade level Mini-Institutes took place during November and December. These institutes consisted of one day devoted to Life Science, one day devoted to Earth Science and the final day was devoted to Technology. UCSD science faculty meets with the grade level teachers during two of the three days to provide content and enhance concept development of the units under study.


Saturday, December 6, 1997, the participants worked on extension activities that integrated literature with the FOSS life science units. The participants shared from their FOSS Life Science Units


Saturday, January 24, 1998, Master teachers and participants shared activities that integrate with the earth science FOSS units


The participants experienced a field trip to Burminco where they met with a geologist who assisted them in selecting rock and mineral samples, which correlated with the units under study.


Saturday, March 14, the participants attended the San Diego Science Educators conference where they attended sessions and viewed exhibits. All participants received a one-year complimentary membership in SDSEA.


Saturday, May 2, the participants attended the San Diego Environmental Education Discovery Fair at the Mission Trials Regional Park. There were over 50 exhibits and presentations.

Summer Academic Program-1998

The summer academic program was from June 22 — July 2, 1998, a period of two weeks of classroom instruction with science educators and Master teachers working collaboratively with seventy lead teachers from the school district with a follow-up science practicum and a one week Frontiers in Science Conference. The instruction was under the guidance of Dr. Cynthia Ledbetter, Professor of Science Education, University of Texas, Dr. Karen Ostlund, Professor of Science Education, University of Texas/University of California, Berkeley with the assistance of UCSD Science Faculty:

Dr. Paul Saltman, Professor of Biology, "The Science of Nutrition"

Dr. Lew Judd, Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry, "What Scientific Studies Tell us About Smoking, Alcohol & Drugs"

Dr. Sandra Daley, Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, "The Biology of Infectious Diseases"

Dr.Stephanie Mel, Biology Dept, "Viruses, Bacteria and Protozoa"

Dr. Theodore Chan, Assistant Clinical Professor — Medicine, "Biology of Trauma"

Dr. Lisa Orloff, Assistant Professor, Surgery, "Seeing and Hearing"

Dr. David Granet, Assistant Professor, Ophthalmology, "The Science of Sight"

Dr. Immo Scheffler, Professor of Biology, " Genetic Diseases"

Dr. Michael Latz, Scripps Institution of Oceanography "Bioluminescence"

Dr. Nicholas Graham, Scripps Institution of Oceanography "El Nino"

and Master Teachers, Bonnie Styles, Joanne Williams, Margaret Godshalk and Gloria Gonzales.

The major concepts were in the area of Human Biology. The participants worked with FOSS curriculum materials as well as A Child’s Place in the Environment and other ancillary curriculum materials. They also participated in field trips to the Steven Burch Scripps Aquarium.

The format of the summer academy called for a team consisting of a University science educator and Master Teachers to work with participants who were grouped according to grade levels, K-3 and 4-6. Time was devoted each day for the participants to investigate the classroom activities in the Human Biology modules under study. There were follow-up activities and discussions with the university scientists and science educators in order to enhance concept development.

Week One

The overall theme was " Living Things are Diverse, Inter-Dependent and Evolving"

  • Living and non-living things can be observed and described
  • Living things have structures which meet their needs for survival in their environment
  • Living things change
  • Living things are adapted to their environment
  • Plants and animals interact with each other and their environment in many ways
  • Living things require energy to grow and change
  • Ecosystems change through time, Living organisms adapt to these changes through natural selection

A typical daily schedule included: an opening discussion on the topics of the day followed by over two hours of hands-on science activities utilizing the FOSS kits with the science educator/master teacher teams. The University scientist concluded the morning session with topics relating to the classroom activities relating to the human body. An open ended discussion period with a University scientist followed and an afternoon session helped bring closure to the content/concepts covered in the morning. The K-3 group explored the FOSS Body System module, Life Lab grades K-1, 2, 3 and The Growing Classroom while the teachers in the grades 4-6 group did activities on the human body — transport systems, Life Lab: Ecosystems grade 4, Life Lab: Weather & Climate Changes, grade 5, Life Lab: Change Over Time, grade 6 and The Growing Classroom

An entire day was spent of Project Wet, where the participants and outside consultants conducted activities relating to the watershed ecology of the National School District.

Week Two

During week two, the concepts emphasized were:

  • Human Development
  • Staying Well

The teachers in the K-3 group worked on activities relating to the concepts of Staying Well, Sight & Hearing, Classifying Living Things, The Ocean. The teachers in the grades 4-6 group worked on the FOSS modules, "Variables" and "Models and Designs" and Human Development, Genetic Diseases.

The activities included a field experience at the Steven Birch Aquarium with presentations by science faculty and activities by the participants.

Weeks Three and Four

During the week of the Practicum, the activities experienced during the two-week program were carried in the classroom with the students in the morning session of summer school. Each afternoon was devoted to debriefing, peer coaching and preparation for the next morning class.

Because half of the district is on a year-round school schedule, the seventy lead teachers attended:

  1. an initial two week program followed by
  2. participation in the Frontiers in Science Leadership one week conference on the UCSD campus and
  3. a one week participation in a Practicum during the summer program or academic year

The lead teachers attended the Practicum based on their school academic year calendar. The program during the summer of 1998 consisted of a total of four weeks of professional development.

  1. Teacher Involvement

The entire staff including a cadre of parents in the National School District has been involved in this project to varying degrees. The total number of staff members and the amount of time vary. It is estimated that 90 staff members have had up to 30 hours, 50 teachers up to 60 hours, 150 teachers up to 100 hours of professional development activities in science and technology during the three years of this project.

A leadership cadre of 60 teachers went through the third year summer program, academic year follow-up meetings and school/district inservice meetings. It is estimated that this leadership cadre have had at least 150 hours of extensive teacher enhancement in science and technology in the third year of this project. These teachers were responsible for providing staff development/inservice to their peers at their grade level at their school site to expedite the implementation of the physical science component of the district’s science curriculum

There are ten elementary schools in the district with approximately 6 lead teachers at each school to provide assistance to their peers and serve as a mentor. One afternoon each week is devoted to an inservice at the school site. The lead teachers at the school site devote one of these weekly meeting each month to science inservice.

In addition to the school site staff development programs, the district resource teacher, Ms. Bonnie Styles, arranged for three full day inservice meetings for all teachers at each grade level to implement the curriculum. Other teacher involvement during the year included school level Science Discovery Days, Family Science Nights, Inventors Showcase, field trips, and monthly science liaison meetings for school teams.

Grants and Awards to Teachers/Participants/School District

  • Project Creek — Classrooms Researching, Exploring, and Experimenting at Kimball. The team of Margaret Godshalk, Stephanie Buttell-Maxim and Bonnie Styles received a TAPP Grant (Teacher Achievement Award Program) for Kimball school for $ 30,000. Opening up the wonders of Paradise Creek Educational Park for our students is the goal of the project" In conjunction with this project, our Assembly woman, 79th District Denise Ducheney obtained federal funding ($700,000) to use for construction to bring the wetlands into the Paradise Creek Mini-Park.
  • Project Kit — The National School District received a priority grant from the State of California to pilot kits for the curriculum "A Child’s Place in the Environment" Bonnie Styles received a grant of $10,000 for this purpose.
  • Power Bar Grant — The district received $4,000 to develop a calendar and construct a wetland nursery.
  • Nutrition Education and Training Program — the State Department of Education provided a $5,000 grant to encourage teachers to develop a garden at each school site. Money will be used to train a "Site Garden Liaison" on the Life Lab Program. Money will be used for training, to establish a garden at each school site, to purchase materials, and to provide food for cooking experiences. Valinda Garcia and Bonnie Styles wrote and received the grant.
  • GOLDEN BELL AWARD National School District received a Golden Bell Award, which promotes excellence in education by recognizing outstanding, programs in school districts. Golden Bell Award reflects the depth and breadth of the education necessary to address student’s changing needs. The national School District is proud and honored to receive this award.
  1. Project Sustainability and Support for Reform

The National School district has formally adopted the science curriculum, which includes the following components:

  • The Full Options Science System (FOSS)
  • The State of California program "A child’s Place in the Environment
  • The California State Department of Education’s environmental program "Closing the Loop".

All of these programs are available in English and Spanish. This is the first time that the district has had a curriculum with BI-lingual materials which will now benefit the student population that is over 90% Hispanic.

The district now has a full time resource teacher for this project and has established a materials resource center with personnel to provide maintenance and distribution of science kits.

The superintendent of schools has established a program of one half day per week to provide time for school site and/or district level staff development. One day each month is devoted to science and technology teacher enhancement.

The leadership of the superintendent, Dr. George Cameron and the administrative council, consisting of the district assistant superintendents and school principals, have developed a long term plan for curricula change which includes plans for: weekly staff development programs, summer enrichment opportunities, a working farm, the maintenance of a materials resource center and a school community newsletter. These are some of the activities that guarantee a sustainable professional development reform effort. The community support for this project has been strong as evidenced by the commitment to maintain and operate the Stein Farm and the newly developed "Paradise Creek Educational Park" to enhance the life science and environmental studies component of the science curriculum. There is also extensive parental involvement as teacher aides/volunteers in the classroom and in Family Science Nights, Science Discovery Days, and field trips.

The Mayor of National City has pledged his continuing support for the project and there has been additional support from the San Diego Water Authority, the United States Navy, San Diego Gas and Electric and the San Diego Port Authority.

  1. Staff Changes

Dr. Frances Slowiczek has retired and Dr. Pamela Peters will undertake her duties.