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Annual Report Overviews


Academic Success (ASSET) Annual Overview

submitter: Academic Success for Students and Educators Together (ASSET) Restructuring K-8 Science in Southwest Virginia
published: 11/19/1999
posted to site: 11/19/1999
Activities and Findings Section from Annual report to NSF

ASSET is a five-year science reform effort for all K-8 faculty and administrators in Buchanan, Dickenson, Russell and Tazewell counties.

The goals and objectives are to have all the elementary school faculty become competent in selected FOSS, Insights, and STC materials that encourage the development of problem solving skills that are consistent with Virginia and national science standards of learning; have all the elementary school science faculty improve their instruction; to develop a Materials Resource Center; and to establish a professional development program.

Professional Development sessions were conducted for K-2 faculty in the use of the first module, alternative methods of assessment, and effective teaching strategies necessary for successful implementation. To accommodate the faculty, two (one-week) sessions (August 2-6, and August 9-13) were conducted for each grade level at two different sites (a total of six) within the four divisions. Make-up sessions (one day per week for five weeks) were conducted on the campus of Southwest Virginia Community College for faculty from the four divisions who were unable to attend summer professional development sessions, were newly employed, or who had been unexpectedly transferred to a different grade level. The school divisions graciously provided release time with substitutes to ensure that uniform implementation would occur.

Follow-up sessions are currently being conducted for faculty, by grade level, in each division to discuss the successes and concerns of implementation. In addition to sharing ideas for improvement, additional professional development in the form of inquiry activities is provided to deepen their understanding of science content, provide strategies for improving pedagogy, and establish the need for self- reflection and self-evaluation.

187 K-2 faculty have completed 25 hours of module instruction and are currently scheduled for 5 hours of follow-up activities.

Major Accomplishments:

  • Establishment of Materials Resource Center
  • First rotation and use of science modules very successful
  • First 'Follow-up' sessions with teachers after implementing a module have been extremely positive
  • Early Public Relations efforts have been successful in establishing community support and a reliable political base
  • Awareness sessions have been conducted for all K-8 faculty
  • Awareness sessions have been conducted for administrators, civic organizations, and PTAs
  • There is a high degree of cooperation among the four school divisions in the implementation of the project
  • A minimum of 25 hours of Professional development for K-2 faculty has been conducted

Major findings include:

  • All elementary faculty involved in the project need extensive professional development in science content, especially the physical and earth sciences
  • Most elementary teachers are very intimidated and uncomfortable with teaching science
  • Most elementary teachers express that they will not take traditional college science content courses
  • Most Kindergarten and First grade faculty already use cooperative learning strategies and performance based assessments, but this decreases as grade level increases
  • Elementary faculty overwhelmingly expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to learn science in a non-threatening environment, using hands-on materials
  • Elementary faculty provide a wealth of creative ideas and resources and appreciate meeting with their peers from other school divisions to share their knowledge and resources
  • For science reform to be successful, instruction for elementary faculty must be provided in a non-threatening environment
  • Faculty have expressed that they feel more confident about teaching science to their students after having completed the module activities themselves
  • An unanticipated result was the overwhelming enthusiasm and support shown by special education faculty for the project

Research Training:

The Professional Development plan provides for 75 hours of module instruction during summer workshops throughout the tenure of the project. Annual follow-up sessions are being conducted (throughout the five project years) providing the opportunity for elementary faculty to acquire an additional 30 hours of professional development in content, inquiry teaching strategies, cooperative learning strategies, effective questioning skills, and alternative methods of assessment.

Teacher's content knowledge is being deepened as they conduct the hands-on activities of the modules and additional inquiry activities related to the modules during the follow-up sessions.

Effective pedagogy is being modeled by project faculty during module professional development sessions and reinforced in follow-up sessions with videos of exemplary inquiry-based instruction by master teachers.

Teachers become competent in the use of module materials as they conduct the hands-on activities included in the modules during professional development sessions. They become more skilled and confident in using inquiry strategies as their science content is deepened.

Development of a team of science resource teachers who will provide on-site support and professional development for elementary faculty is in early stages.

Follow-up sessions are being conducted to offer extensions beyond module training and provide time for teachers to share successes and concerns of implementation as well as ideas to enhance learning.

One hundred eighty seven (50 Kindergarten, 69 First Grade, 68 Second Grade) K-2 faculty have each completed 25 hours of module instruction with five-hour follow-up sessions being conducted within each division during this school year.

Twenty eight additional faculty will be completing 25 hours of module instruction during weekend sessions before Christmas.

All K-2 faculty who have completed training on the first module have implemented or will implement that module in their classrooms during the 1999-2000 school year. Currently more than 50% of those professionally developed during the summer sessions have implemented the modules in their classrooms.

Education and Outreach:

Outreach activities include:

  • 'Science Night' Open House in Elementary Schools
  • Congressman Rick Boucher, in a formal ceremony held on the campus of Southwest Virginia Community college, announced the NSF's funding for the ASSET Project
  • Awareness Presentations to Civic Clubs
  • Awareness Presentation to School Boards
  • Awareness Presentations to Principals
  • Awareness Presentation to faculty and Staff of Southwest Virginia Community College
  • Meetings with local, state and federal politicians
  • Developed a brochure and video tape describing the project being used in awareness sessions