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Annual Report Overviews


BASEE Annual Overview

submitter: Bay Area Schools for Excellence in Education
published: 12/02/1999
posted to site: 12/03/1999
Bay Area Schools for Excellence in Education
Annual Report
November 15, 1999

Project Overview
Bay Area Schools for Excellence in Education (BASEE) is an eight district collaborative working with Hewlett-Packard Company to improve science instruction for elementary students. The project vision is to provide science content training for approximately 1,950 teachers with models of excellent pedagogy. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the participating districts include: Cupertino Union School District, Los Altos School district, Menlo Park School District, Mountain View School District, Palo Alto Unified School District, Redwood City School District, Santa Clara Unified School District and Whisman School District. Each of the districts has participated in Hewlett-Packard's Hands-On Science Program, which included training at the National Science Resources Center in Washington, DC and a three-year $90,000 grant. Each district has had a successful initial curriculum launch. The BASEE project seeks to sustain those efforts and boost districts to the next level with all students learning science and its connections to their world in lively, inquiry-based lessons. Professional development activities are designed to feature science with meaningful connections to math, literacy and technology.

Recognizing that teachers and administrators have different professional development needs, BASEE has designed training in five different strands:

  1. Nuts & Bolts - This strand introduces new teachers, or those new to the curriculum, to the science kits.
  2. Ongoing Content & Pedagogy - These weeklong, in-depth summer institutes offer content background with rich examples of good teaching. In 1998 the content focus was physical science. Summer institutes in 1999 provided instruction in earth sciences. We are currently planning for life sciences in the summer of 2000. During the school year shorter versions of these same institute sessions are offered for teachers who could not attend during the summer.
  3. Leadership - Lead teachers from each school site receive many opportunities to hone their skills in working with colleagues. These include coaching, dealing with change and resistance, laptop training for reporting and online communications, and a weeklong Inquiry Leadership Institute.
  4. Administrators - Special workshops for principals and district administrators provide help with science supervision and support.
  5. Science Resource Teacher (SRT) Professional Development - The SRTs benefit from ongoing opportunities to nurture their growth and development to build skills in leadership, working with adult learners, professional development design and content background.

Each BASEE district has one or more science resource teachers (SRTs) who oversee the science implementation within the district, supervise the kit refurbishment operation and are the link between BASEE and the districts. The SRT team is responsible for the design and delivery of the professional development offerings. In addition, BASEE employs outside consultants, higher education instructors and scientist volunteers as presenters of content background.

Lead teachers at each of the 90 school sites supervise the kit usage at the site, lead faculty meetings around science and maintain communication with the district SRT and mentor their colleagues. The leads are members of the school site leadership team, which guides the development of the school site science plan. Each school receives a small budget to support its approved science plan. In addition, each school site receives a laptop computer from Hewlett-Packard to help maintain online communications across the districts.

BASEE summer institutes provide a rich avenue for teacher development. Each year our weeklong Invitations to Inquiry institute is filled to capacity. This past summer sixty teachers gathered to focus on this important pedagogy while focusing on the physics of light and color. Our model is patterned after the one we experienced at the Exploratorium. We are delighted to have the benefit of ongoing coaching from Barry Kluger-Bell and Fred Stein to make this a rich offering for our teachers.

Our weeklong summer content institutes (serving over 300 teachers) feature one discipline of science each year on a rotational basis. This past summer it was the Exploring Earth Sciences institute. We have learned that the triad instructional team model is a powerful one. A secondary or higher education instructor works with a volunteer scientist and a SRT to design and deliver the institute curriculum. The instructional team is challenged to plan a program that matches the concepts teachers are expected to teach. Each year we offer six sessions so teachers may select the topic they teach. This past summer these topics were:

  • Astronomy
  • Oceanography
  • Weather
  • Geology I - Pebbles, Sand, Silts and Soils
  • Geology II - Rocks and Minerals
  • Geology III - Landforms, Plate Tectonics and Erosion

Adult field trips during the week bring the content learning to life and have been especially well received. The opening and closing activities include some big picture presentations so teachers can think of their topic in the context of earth sciences in general.

BASEE is currently in project year three. Our focus this year is on the use of a science notebook to solidify the science concepts while simultaneously strengthening literacy and math skills. The SRTs developed a 10 station jigsaw style workshop to emphasize how science notebooks can be used to deepen learning. These workshops are featured during the staff development days this year in all eight districts.