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Reforming Secondary Science Summer Workshop Agenda

submitter: Reforming Secondary Science Through Teacher Enhancement
published: 09/28/1999
posted to site: 10/01/1999
"Reforming Secondary Science through Teacher Enhancement"

Project Directors: Robert Gibbs and Scott Stowell

How long do your workshops last?

This project is a cooperative effort between Spokane Public Schools and Eastern Washington University to reform the science curriculum in grades 7-12. So far we have concentrated on grades 7-10, where the traditional year long courses in one subject are being replaced by what we call "coordinated science." At each grade level, there are now four units covering the subject matter areas of life science, earth science, chemistry and physics, a total of 16 units. In summer 1999 we had two workshops, each of 5 days duration (30 hours).

How many teachers do you involve in your workshops?

The first workshop was for the 13 leadership teachers plus the faculty from Eastern Washington University. The second was for all teachers (grades 7-12), and we had an attendance of 67 out of 103 teachers. Of these, 12 were leadership teachers, and 55 were from the general population.

What are your major goals for your workshop in terms of content and pedagogy?

The workshop for leadership teachers was focused on creating classroom-based assessments for the units of instruction in grades 7-10. We revised the summative unit assessments created in summer of 1998 and completed the exemplary responses for evaluating them. We revised the pre-quizzes for each unit, and began creating formative assessments to be used during instruction. This effort was guided by our consultant Audrey Champagne.

The larger workshop was devoted to presenting the revised curriculum to the teachers. These sessions were presented by the leadership teams, each comprised of three teachers and a university faculty member. We began with an activity for all teachers on the subject of density to model "teaching for understanding." This portion included sample assessment questions that probed for understanding. Then teachers divided into grade level groups to participate in two types of activities. Mornings were devoted to going through the four units, experiencing the activities and the equipment and getting familiar with the curriculum materials. Teachers also examined the pre-quizzes and the summative assessments. Afternoons were spent discussing the scientific concepts underlying each of the units. This science content piece is critical, since teachers who used to teach year long courses in a single subject are now expected to teach all four subjects.

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?

The curricular units have been designed around the learning targets for each grade level, which are based on the science standards developed by the State of Washington. To construct each unit, we pulled pieces from a large number of resources to create a story line to support about 9 weeks of instruction. It is intended that all teachers will use this curriculum, since it addresses the subject matter knowledge and science abilities that will be tested in the mastery examination to be given by the State of Washington. This exam will be given at the 10th grade level, and students must pass it to graduate from high school.