Newsclippings and Press Releases
by Jodi Haney
The University of Toledo, in collaboration with Bowling Green State University, received a $5,159,610.00 grant from the National Science Foundation to improve elementary science teaching and learning. The grant is the largest grant ever received by the University of Toledo, and when matching costs are added to the NSF moneys the grant totals $13,817,073.00. The majority of the NSF funding will go directly to supporting teachers in Toledo Public Schools and Springfield Local Schools. The grant, entitled Toledo Area Partnership in Education: Support Teachers as Resources to Improve Elementary Science (TAPESTRIES) was awarded to Dr. Charlene M. Czerniak in the College of Education and Allied Professions at The University of Toledo, and Dr. Jodi Haney, Assistant Professor at Bowling Green State University, a co-partner in this project. A sub-contract for approximately $1.4 million will be issued from The University of Toledo to Bowling Green State University for their portion of the project activities.
"The TAPESTRIES project is a partnership between the Toledo Public Schools, Springfield Local Schools, and the College of Education and Allied Profession and the College of Arts and Sciences at both The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University," said Professor Dr. Charlene Czerniak. "An advisory committee composed of teachers and administrators from TPS and SLS worked with science educators and scientists at UT and BGSU over the last couple of years to plan and write the proposal," said Dr. Czerniak. Dr. Jodi Haney, Assistant Professor at Bowling Green State University, scientists (Dr. Ernest DuBrul and Dr. Andrew Jorgensen), and school district representatives (Richard Fischer at Toledo Public Schools and Brian Barnhart at Springfield Local Schools) are co-project investigators and teachers in the project. TAPESTRIES is a five year project designed to develop comprehensive school science programs through the sustained professional development of all K-6 teachers in the Toledo Public Schools (TPS) and Springfield Local Schools (SLS). Teacher-based leadership and other support structures will be implemented as teachers use inquiry-based science curriculum and instructional strategies. Teachers will be involved in long term professional development activities during Summer Institutes and academic year sessions.
The goals and objectives of the TAPESTRIES are:
1. To develop, support, and utilize a cadre of Support Teachers along with other sufficient support structures in order to provide local leadership for the implementation of effective science programs within their districts.
2. To provide effective and sustained professional development for all K-6 teachers of science in the participating school districts.
3. To implement quality inquiry-based science curriculum and instruction in classrooms that are consistent with local, state, and national recommendations so that all students may receive opportunities to become scientifically literate.
4. To coordinate curriculum, classroom practice, and student assessment with the district adopted science courses of study and statewide assessments.
5. To enhance the science content knowledge of elementary teachers in physical, earth/space, and life science.
The basic function of TAPESTRIES is to develop a cohort of Support Teachers who will be given full time release from teaching responsibilities for 2-3 years. These Support Teachers will receive over 200 hours of training in the form of a two week Summer Institute, two three-semester-hour courses, a staff retreat, and a winter conference. The Support Teachers will provide assistance for classroom teachers as they implement their science curriculum, help teachers with district assessments, and execute district action plans for improving science literacy. A key feature of district action plans (plans to maintain and support science education in buildings) will be the involvement of community representatives, parents, and principals.
Approximately 1476 classroom teachers from the participating districts (enough funding for 100% of the teachers to attend) will be able to receive over 104 hours of staff development in science content, pedagogy, and student assessment as they implement their district adopted curriculum materials. "Both TPS and SLS adopted FOSS (Full Option Science System) and STC (Science and Technology for Children) curriculum, and these materials are among the best curriculum materials available on the market. This was key to getting this grant funded," said Dr. Jodi Haney. In the proposed long term staff development plan, classroom teachers will participate in two week Summer Institutes, regular district/building level sessions during the first academic year, a winter institute, and additional follow-up sessions for two additional years.
Teachers who participate in TAPESTRIES will each receive a stipend for attending two week Summer Institute, hourly stipends for academic year monthly meetings, all meals paid during Summer Institute, 4 free graduate credit hours from UT or BGSU for Summer Institute, 2 free graduate credit hours from UT or BGSU for Academic Year meetings and activities, and e-mail/internet access account from UT or BGSU for one year.
Other scientists and science educators at UT involved in the project include: Dr. Marcia Fetters (science education), Dr. Chuck Rop (curriculum and science education), Dr. Chris Fox (evaluation), Dr. Ernest DuBrul (biology), Dr. Andrew Jorgensen (chemistry), Dr. Bernie Bopp (astronomy/physics), Dr. Scott Lee (physics), Dr. Robert Niedzielski (chemistry), and Dr. Alison Spongberg (geology). Educators at BGSU include: Ms. Deb Snow (Science Teacher), Dr. Roger Thibault (environmental programs & biology), Dr. Berry Cobb (physics), Dr. Bob Midden (chemistry), Dr. Norm Levine (geology), Dr. Chris Keil (environmental programs), Dr. Charlene Wagoner (biology), and Dr. Marty Harvill (biology). The scientists and science educators will work along side the Support Teachers and classroom teachers during both the summer institutes and academic year activities.
Principals will be involved in TAPESTRIES as they support teachers, attend monthly building level meetings, and attend a one day retreat. The one day retreat for principals will be designed to give principals information about science education reform goals, provide an overview of the TAPESTRIES program, and solicit their support for the project, provide models of good science instruction, and discuss appropriate techniques for evaluating curriculum and instruction. Principals will receive a small stipend for attendance at the retreat.
Undergraduate science methods students from UT and BGSU will also benefit from the project, because they will be placed with TAPESTRIES trained teachers starting fall semester 1998. This experience will provide undergraduate students with knowledgeable teachers who are using exemplary science curriculum materials.
TAPESTRIES was one of 13 grants funded this year by The National Science Foundation as a Local Systemic Change Project (LSC). As part of a LSC, TAPESTRIES will undergo a rigorous evaluation procedure to see if the project is effective. Each year, a survey questionnaires will be sent to a random sample of 300 teachers and every elementary principal each spring. Classroom observations will be conducted by NSF/Horizon trained observers of 10 random classrooms. A key outcome of TAPESTRIES is also improved science proficiency test scores for elementary students.