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Annual Report Overviews


TEAM 2000 Annual Overview

submitter: TEAM 2000
published: 12/30/1999
posted to site: 12/31/1999
TEAM 2000 Project Overview

TEAM 2000 is a five-year teacher enhancement project in science designed to reach 1400 PreK-8 teachers in the Buffalo Public Schools. The project is now entering its fourth year and is actively working with approximately 1000 teachers to support them in teaching three hands-on, inquiry-based science kits that focus on the life, earth, and physical sciences. The kits have been selected from three nationally-recognized, NSF-funded projects: The Full Option Science System (FOSS), Insights, and Science and Technology for Children (STC). These kits have been chosen to match the requirements of the city syllabus which is based on the state standards for teaching math, science, and technology. Each teacher receives 48 hours of initial professional development ("structured use") to prepare them to teach the three grade level appropriate kits. Having completed the initial training, teachers become eligible for a variety of advanced professional development activities ("insightful" and "integrated use"): Pasadena Content Modules (Electricity, Force and Motion, Buoyancy and Density, Animal Behavior), Inquiry, Museum Connections, Field Geology, Ornithology, Object Lessons (Birds, Insects, and Mammals), New York's NYSTEP modules (7&8), SEPUP (7&8), Study Groups (science journals, cooperative learning, alternative assessments, etc.), and field trips to science rich resources in the community.

A crucial component of TEAM 2000 has been the development of the Science Materials Center which occupies 9,000 square feet of space in two locations in the Tri-Main Building at 2495 Main Street in Buffalo. This facility houses materials to fulfill teachers requests for approximately 1000 kits that are distributed to Buffalo's 61 elementary schools on a quarterly rotation cycle. The Center also contains a spare parts inventory for refurbishing the kits and a staging area where the kits are stored on pallets once they have been readied for shipment. This unique partnership between the school district and an independent non-profit corporation is run by a center manager and stock clerk (employed by the District) under the supervision of the Managing Director of First Hand Learning, Inc. A computer-based inventory system designed by the TEAM 2000 staff tracks kit usage, schedules deliveries, and provides information to determine the need for kit inventory and replacement parts. A bar coding and spare parts inventory system has just been introduced which will further refine our tracking system and provide crucial information for inventory planning. The system also enables us to follow the professional development history of each participating teacher.

Project emphasis during the past year has focused on:

  • Continuing efforts to reach all 1400 teachers at the "structured use level. This effort now requires communication of a district-wide mandate from the school district administration so that all students may have the opportunity to participate in the program. In the spring of 1999 the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum sent a letter to each PreK-8 teacher in the district who had not enrolled in the program inviting them to participate. This resulted in a large increase in enrollments in TEAM 2000 spring and summer workshops.

  • Continuing efforts to improve the quality of TEAM 2000 workshops at the "structured use" level. The improved evaluation results of these workshops shown on the 1999 Evaluation Report attest to this effort. This improvement was accomplished through monthly facilitator workshops that focused on the goals of the workshops, together with the development and implementation of a structured use workshop "script."

  • Working with principals, assistant principals, and program coordinators to define and implement their role as project leaders at the building level. This effort has focused during the past year on the overall quality of classroom instruction. In the spring of 1999 we revised the Horizon's classroom protocol to refine it as a tool that principals can use to evaluate the quality of instruction in their classrooms. During a three day summer institute PIs Dow and Alessi used several Horizon's training videos, together with WGBH's three new Science Teaching videos, to help principals recognize and evaluate effective classroom instruction in elementary science. District assistant superintendents and subject area directors from language arts, mathematics, special education, and staff development also attended. The principals and other administrators were enthusiastic about this institute and saw applications for these innovative science teaching methods across the curriculum. We plan to continue work with them on classroom observations during the 1999-2000 academic year.

  • Continued expansion of the professional development program at the PreK and seventh and eighth grade levels. We ran summer workshops to implement the PreK units on Water Explorations developed last year and have started work on a new unit on Structures that uses wooden blocks. We have had several meetings with 7th and 8th grade teachers to introduce them to the resources of the Science Materials Center and are now housing the SEPUP kits in the Center where they can be refurbished and circulated to teachers across the District.

  • Continued efforts to build relationships with the community outside the schools in order to build support and an infrastructure that can provide for the long term sustainability of the district science program. These efforts have included the expansion of "Family Science Nights" to approximately two thirds of the participating schools, working with Buffalo State College to incorporate TEAM professional development activities into graduate and undergraduate instruction in science teaching, and cultivation of support with local foundations and private industry.

Problems, Opportunities, and Interesting Developments

During the past year the project has experienced an unusually high attrition rate of teachers due to retirements. This has lead to a large influx of new teachers that need to be trained at the "structured use" level. While this has had a negative impact on the total teacher professional development hours of teachers currently teaching in the system (see "Teacher Professional Development Hours" pie chart included in the appendices to this report), it has also caused us to look for new opportunities for young teachers who are able to make a long term commitment to the project. We are now exploring how we can support these young teachers by offering opportunities to gain college course credit for participation in project activities, to devise new roles for teachers that will offer opportunities for long term professional development with the District science program, and to seek out new relationships with the university community that will enable us to sustain the TEAM professional development program beyond the life of the grant. The District is also seeking ways to incorporate TEAM training into the professional development required of all new teachers.

In addition, a major challenge of the past year has been the setting up of a new organization, First Hand Learning, Inc., to replace the role formerly played by the Buffalo Museum of Science in collaborating with the District to implement the project. While this has inevitably involved many hours devoted to organization building, it has also made possible the development of a plan for the long term support of the District's science program. First Hand Learning, Inc. can operate the Science Materials Center, conduct teacher professional development workshops, develop teacher training materials, carry out evaluation activities, and build relationships with universities, industry, and other external institutions with a degree of flexibility and entrepreneurial capability not easily found either in a museum or a large urban school district. We believe that the new partnership with First Hand Learning, Inc. offers great promise for sustaining an innovative science program in the Buffalo Public Schools long after the termination of the NSF TEAM 2000 grant.

P. B. Dow
15 November 1999