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Annual Report Overviews


Annual Overview

submitter: TAPESTRIES
published: 02/18/1999
posted to site: 02/18/1999
Annual Overview

Toledo Area Partnership in Education: Support Teachers as Resources to Improve Elementary Science

This project is a collaborative between The University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, Toledo Public Schools (TPS), and Springfield Local Schools (SLS). TAPESTRIES has five major goals and objectives:

  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
The purpose of this five-year project is 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). The project is designed help prepare scientifically literate students who can comprehend and use science while being successful on high-stakes statewide science assessments. Sixteen Support Teachers, who are given full time release from teaching responsibilities this year, 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 provide assistance for classroom teachers, help teachers with district assessments, and execute their district action plans for improving science literacy. Three hundred thirty-two classroom teachers from the participating districts will receive during this first year over 104 hours of staff development in science content, pedagogy, and student assessment as they implement their district adopted curriculum materials. Classroom teachers participated in two-week Summer Institutes (70 contact hours) and are now participating in regular district/building level sessions during the academic year (2-3 hours per month). A winter institute (7 contact hours) is planned for April 1999, and additional follow-up sessions will occur in the second and third academic year. Undergraduate students at The University of Toledo and Bowling Green State University also work with teachers, science educators, and classroom teachers who are TAPESTRIES participants. This partnership is being researched with regard to its effect on undergraduate education.

The project evaluator outlined several key strengths and challenges noted during the first five months of this project:

Key Strengths
  • Teachers are the focus of this project.
  • The summer sessions offer the potential to impact a large number of teachers in the two school districts.
  • The diversity and experience of the project facilitators helps in the program delivery. The scientists, science educators, school administrators and other project staff appear to have a common vision.
  • The scientists have had a positive impact on the teachers.
  • The university staff have been a valuable resource for organizing the project.
  • The Support Teachers will serve an important role.
  • The leadership training for the Support Teachers has the potential to build a strong leadership cadre.
  • Both school districts have made an extensive investment in developing a science scope and sequence to match the state standards and testing.
  • Both school districts have adopted and purchased science curriculum materials.
  • Quality curriculum materials, with one exception, are being used.
  • There is a good beginning effort to establish needed support structures.
  • Use of the 5E learning model appears to provide a good foundation for delivering the professional development.
Key Challenges
  • Pedagogy and classroom strategies were a weak area of the summer professional development sessions.
  • Session facilitators should address teachers' science misconceptions.
  • Other district reforms in mathematics and reading seem to be taking precedence over science.
  • Teachers need time to plan and implement the curriculum materials.
  • Parents and other community members don't appear to be involved in the reform efforts to any great extent.
  • The materials management system needs attention.
  • A wide range of support from school administrators, especially building principals, exists.
  • The morale problem in some of the Toledo Public School buildings presents a daunting, yet critical challenge for this project.
  • The Support Teachers are not familiar with all of the kits being used in their buildings.
  • The feeder pattern in the Toledo Public Schools is being utilized to its fullest extent.