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Annual Report Overviews


Building Bridges Annual Overview

submitter: Building Bridges to the Future: The Next Generation of Science-Enabled Elementary School Teachers
published: 01/06/2000
posted to site: 01/07/2000
Building Bridges to the Future: Project 1999 Annual Overview
Primary Investigator: Dr. Susan Johnson


The major goal of the "Building Bridges to the Future" LSC project is to bring about systemic reform in the teaching of science in 39 elementary schools in 13 school districts, which include one urban district among the other mostly small town and rural ones. A central component which the project seeks to put in place is a core of leadership teachers in each school who are well-grounded in elementary school science concepts, able to model and teach inquiry-centered pedagogy to colleagues, able to design curriculum which is based on state and national science education standards, and equipped with leadership skills to guide reform in schools and districts in concert with informed administrators. Adoption of a standards based curriculum which is successfully implemented through the use of exemplary instructional materials is a key ingredient, along with the building of capacity in each district which will allow the reform to become institutionalized. This report addresses the fourth year of progress toward the goal.

Project activities have focused on four major groups of participants. The initial group, Cadre A, consists of a primary and an intermediate teacher from each building. These teachers received three years of three-week summer institutes in 1995 and 1996, a two-week institute in the summer of 1997, academic year monthly classes during the three years, and opportunity for additional leadership training in the summer of 1998. During the current year, these teachers have implemented kit-based instruction in their own classes, mentored colleagues, conducted local and regional professional development sessions, and spearheaded the adoption of kit-based science materials in the statewide science "textbook adoption" which occurs once every six years in Indiana.

The next group, Cadre B, consists of a second set of primary and intermediate teachers from each school, who also are being prepared to serve in a leadership capacity. They completed their third summer institute in 1999, having followed a pattern similar to that of Cadre A.

The third group consists of the remaining teachers who will be expected to teach science well to all of their students, but who will not have leadership responsibilities. From the second year of the project, some of these teachers have become Science Associates, who are mentored and coached by Cadre teachers in a dedicated fashion. Other teachers participated in a special one-week introductory science inquiry institute led by LSC staff in June of 1999. Others have participated in workshops offered locally by Cadre teachers. Over 400 participated in three-day, kit-based, regional workshops organized by project staff, leadership teachers, and district administrators during the summer of 1999.

The fourth group consists of district central administrators and principals whose involvement and education as major players in systemic reform built to a climax in the spring of 1999, as they participated in two retreats, which helped them prepare for the adoption of kit-based materials as the official science instructional materials in their districts and helped them be a part of the regional kit-based professional development plan.


  1. 1998-99 was the year during which all school districts in Indiana officially adopted the science textbook which will be in place in each grade level for the next six years. In Indiana, there is no state allocation to districts to pay for textbooks. In order to use textbook rental fees, which all districts charge students, for the purchase of "textbooks," the textbooks must be selected from the state-approved list during the appropriate year. All Bridges districts selected exemplary kits in their adoption. This happened because Cadre teachers were passionate in their commitment to having these kits available to enhance the science experiences of children, and were able to make the case to fellow teachers and administrators.

  2. The elementary leadership teachers who have been educated in elementary science content, inquiry-centered methodology, and leadership skills are in place, and can now assume a larger role in the professional development of their colleagues.

  3. Over 400 teachers participated during the summer of 1999 in kit-based workshops, offered close to home for LSC teachers, and taught, largely by Cadre A and B teachers with some assistance from LSC staff.

  4. By the end of this reporting cycle, a distinct shift in responsibility had occurred, with district personnel, both teachers and administrators, assuming more and more leadership for what they now perceive as "their" project.