Communication Center  Conference  Projects Share  Reports from the Field Resources  Library  LSC Project Websites  NSF Program Notes
 How to Use this site    Contact us  LSC-Net: Local Systemic Change Network
Newsclippings and Press Releases

LSC Reference Materials

LSC Case Study Reports

Annual Report Overviews

Summer Workshop Plans

Summer Workshop Plans


LASERS Summer Science Academy

submitter: Language Acquisition in Science Education for Rural Schools (LASERS)
published: 07/14/1999
posted to site: 07/16/1999
LASERS (Language Acquisition in Science Education for Rural Schools)
Life Lab Science Program

University of California Santa Cruz, Hollister School District, North Monterey County School District, Pajaro Valley School District, Aromas/San Juan Unified School District, King City School District, Salinas City School District, Alisal School District

How long do your workshops last?

First, we do not offer summer "workshops". We offer, instead, a Summer Science Academy (SSA) that lasts six weeks. The first week is a preservice week during which participants spend half their time exploring concepts related to the identified topics they will teach in the Summer School (soil and water) through adult inquiries of their own selection, and half their time planning how to integrate instruction related to issues of language acquisition with the science content they have been assigned at their grade level. This year, we offered an additional preservice week of training to a team of teachers from Fresno Unified as part of an LSC collaboration. The remaining five weeks are the actual Summer School Academy. It includes daily instruction to students (pre-K to pre-6) in the morning, with a focus on science and English language acquisition, as well as professional development in the afternoons related to ongoing science content investigations and reflection/discussion on their practice. We also run a five-day Summer Institute in that six-week period for selected teachers and administrators within our project.

How many teachers do you involve in your workshops?

Actually, work related to the SSA begins in the winter preceding it. Members of the LASERS staff select a unifying concept and supporting subconcepts that will form the core of the summer curricula, and identify Life Lab (see below) units of study at each grade level that will teach those concepts. A group of experienced teachers from across the project are invited to apply to become members of a Leadership Cadre. The Leadership Cadre work with members of the staff and two working scientists (this year, a soil scientist and a marine chemist) over several Saturdays to conduct inquiries designed to enhance their understanding of the identified content. Members of the Leadership Cadre make a commitment to play an active role in the SSA, both as content specialists and as coaches.

The actual preservice weeks served 13 teachers from Fresno (week one) and about 96 teachers from our project service area (week two). In the second preservice week, we worked with not only teachers from our own Summer Science Academy, but also with teachers working in satellite summer schools in two different districts who then used the training to implement a separate program tailored to their individual needs. Our Summer Science Academy involves 18 classroom teachers (pre-K to pre-6, three at each grade level), 18 Minicorps* students (one for each classroom, serving in a student teaching capacity), 6 peer-coaching positions (shared by 8 peer-coaches) and two teachers on special assignment. Half the teachers come from the sponsor district, the other half from the remaining six districts in our project.

The first four days of the Summer Institute was offered this year to lead teachers new to our project -- approximately 28 teachers from the seven districts. Administrators from all LASERS schools were invited to visit the campus during one of the four days, and we had about 24 sign up to attend. The fifth day of the summer institute we call a planning day and will involve all lead teachers and administrators from all schools in the project -- about 142 teachers and administrators.

*Minicorps is a statewide project in California that supports migrant students who express and interest in entering the field of teaching.

What are your major goals for your workshops in terms of content and pedagogy? (Just one or two paragraphs)

In the planning process, we expect teachers to be able to identify the major science concepts addressed by the lessons (and unit) they have been assigned to teach and modify their assigned curriculum in such a way as to make sure those concepts are taught. Additionally, we expect them to identify opportunities for the use of language in the lessons they teach, and to modify their lessons in such a way as the content is accessible to all students and they provide support for English language acquisition. Additionally, we expect teachers -- through the vehicle of their own science investigations -- to be able to identify key concepts related to soil and water. We therefore expect teachers to use this planning process to deliver a quality science and language program to K-5 students over a five week bloc of time. We further expect teachers to continue science investigations in the summer school garden as they apply their understandings to the larger ideas of soil and water interactions with a garden.

Through avenues of professional reflection and discussion (peer coaching, core team/grade level meetings, journal writing and professional collaboration), we expect teachers to revise and refine their practice, methodology and assessment skills as the summer school proceeds. Twice a week, grade level teams (which we call Core Teams) meet to discuss video tapes of their classroom practice, samples of student work, and other artifacts enabling them to analyze the effectiveness of their teaching. Because the units and lessons they are teaching have been preassigned and because planning was done in collaboration, all teaching teams in a Core Team are teaching effectively the same lessons, which deepens the conversations. As a result, we expect to see measurable growth in student skills (both in language development and in understanding science concepts) and measurable growth in teacher skills (attitudes towards teaching, deeper understanding of the science concepts and appreciation for the power of collaborative planning/implementation).

All teachers participating in the SSA and the Summer Institute are expected to return to their sites and play a leadership role. Leadership may take several forms, but invariably involves paricipation in a Core Team that attempts, as closely as possible, to emulate Core Team activities described above. There are many other levels of leadership that participating teachers may select from, however.

Are you offering professional development on specific curricula that you are hoping will be used in the classroom? If so, which curricula are you using?

We are using one selected unit of study from each of the K-5 Life Lab Science books. Grades pre-1, -3 and -5 are studying units related to the properties of water; grades pre-2, -4 and -6 are studying units realted to the properties of soil. All grades are free to integrate additional activities, lessons and materials from the Hampton-Brown, "Into English" program as are appropriate to their identified objectives.

This short description (following directions as closely as possible) captures only a peripheral essence of the summer science academy. It fails to mention that a team of UCSC researchers have selected one case study teacher at each grade level and will track their progress in science teaching through the rest of the 1999-2000 school year. It fails to mention that each coach is teamed with the three teachers at their grade level and take turns coaching each teachers once a week, or that the coaches are teamed with another coach so the non-observing coach can sub in the class of the teacher being coached while the post-conference portion of the coaching model takes place. It fails to mention that minicorps students are paired and taught to use the video camera so the partner of a minicorps student whose classroom is being videotaped can fulfill their normal role in the classroom while the partner minicorps student films the lesson (and they take turns, because each classroom is videotaped two times during the first four weeks). It fails to mention that these video tapes become the focus of discussion foir about one hour of each grade level meeting two days a week (t and thurs), where the teacher has an opportunity to preview the video and select and area to focus the discussion. It fails to mention that other topics of focus are selected by each grade level team to also discuss in those bi-weekly meetings. It fails to mention that minicorps students are given increasingly important roles in planning and delivering instruction. It fails to mention that the preservice content investigations were coordinated by a soil scientist and a marine chemist (UCSC and MBARI), who have remained on-site during the summer academy to coordinate the ongoing investigations in the garden. It fails to mention that a Leadership Cadre spent five Saturdays (beginning in February) field testing the science content investigations and helped to plan and implement the actual training that took place in the preservice week, or that most of those "Leadership Cadre" teachers now occupy a coaching role in the Summer Academy (or run two of the satellite summer schools mentioned in the text). It also fails to mention the hope that most of these participating teachers will assume leadership roles on their sites during the subsequent school year, even where mechanisms and time for such an intensive form of professional growth and development does not exist.