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Annual Report Overviews


INQUIRES Annual Overview

submitter: INQUIRES
published: 04/13/2000
posted to site: 04/14/2000

  1. Participants:


    3 science faculty from San Francisco State University - Science Content Enhancement staff

    2 science faculty from City College of San Francisco - Science Content Enhancement staff

    1 science education coordinator from University of California(SF) - Science Content Enhancement staff

    The science content enhancement staff were selected through a process involving recommendations from deans and department chairs from. The content enhancement staff met as a group several times with project staff so that the focus and the depth of the summer content enhancement program was in accordance with the goals of the project.

    3 teachers on special assignment (TSAs)

    Two TSAs were involved in the writing of the grant request. In preparation for the summer institute, the TSAs selected the replacement units and worked with the post secondary content specialists to plan the two week institute. During the institute they led teachers through the replacement units and facilitated the considerations the pertain to implementation. The TSAs are currently supporting the implementation process and are engaged in planning next summer institute.

  2. Activities and Findings:

    1. Describe the major research and educational activities.

      The vision of the San Francisco Unified School District for all students grades 6-9 is to improve their academic success. The intent of the project is to have science students transition successfully from the explorations and observations of elementary school science to the experimentation and analytical thinking demanded by high school science. The key to designing and delivering a high quality science program where all teachers are able to teach inquiry-based science with content that is aligned to the standards in a comprehensive, systemic professional development and teacher enhancement program.

      The reform process is being implemented in close partnership with a number of science education institutions in the Bay Area. Teachers, scientists and staff from collaborating institutions are providing support for teachers.

      This year the reform process introduced new replacement units into the instructional program. The goals of the proposed program are addressed by two primary mechanisms: 1) by teacher participation in the summer institutes and 2) by the development of a teacher leadership structure to encourage examination of the school site’s current science program. The institutes’ focus includes the learning of the science content needed for teachers to fully understand the nature of the replacement units and how the units relate to the district Science Standards. The inquiry-based instructional strategies necessary to implement the replacement units were emphasized through the participants’ hands-on experience with the units.


      Within a short time frame, twenty-three teachers, grades 6-9, participated in the 1999 summer institute. Faculty from post-secondary institutions provided the integrated content enhancement. The first year's group is now the District science leadership at the middle school level, who, after their participation in the Summer Institute, are implementing the replacement units. We’ve created a communication infrastructure, composed of email and a web site, which encourages the sharing of experiences of implementation of the replacement units. The implementation effort has also been supported through the distribution of printed materials for the instructional programs, scientific equipment and supplies for the replacement units. When needed, the project staff is available to assist the INQUIRES participants in the classroom when implementing the replacement units. We are meeting with post-secondary faculty and are currently planning the summer 2000 institute. The collaboration of San Francisco State University faculty and INQUIRES professional development staff in planning and developing the summer institutes has resulted in a 3 unit science course, Inquiry Science for Teachers, to be offered summer 2000 and will support middle school teachers in getting their supplemental credential in science.

    2. Describe the major findings resulting from these activities.

      As of September 1999, San Francisco Unified School District has become a Urban Systemic Program. INQUIRES is now part of the coordinated programs of the USP serving middle school science teachers. The goals of INQUIRES are in alignment with the goals of the USP and the two programs will mutually support each other in their implementation.

    3. Describe the key components of the professional development plan, including the project's strategies for:

      1. deepening teacher's content knowledge

        During two-week workshop, time was allocated for exploration of the content of the major concepts of the identified replacement units. Staff from San Francisco State University, City College of San Francisco and University of California-San Francisco provided the content enhancement. All participants regardless of grade level participated in the same content sessions. The concepts explored involved a combination of inorganic chemistry, photosynthesis, digestion and molecular genetics. A major theme was the integration of the science content. The scientific method was modeled by having all participants engaged in a long term project where data collection was done on a daily basis and then graphically represented and analyzed.

      2. Deepening teacher understanding of effective pedagogy and assessment that promotes student learning

        During the morning sessions, college and university staff modeled instructional strategies for effective teaching. Every afternoon teachers conducted the investigations of the replacement units by grade level. Time was allocated to discuss and debrief the content and learning activity. These sessions were conducted by grade level and led by the school district teachers on special assignment in collaboration with the college and university staff.

      3. helping teachers become conversant with the instructional materials designated for classroom use

        The TSAs lead the afternoon sessions focused on a variety of instructional practices that could be used with each of the replacement units. Participants examined these approaches in relation to their current teaching practices.

      4. supporting teachers as they implement the materials in their classroom.

        Each INQUIRES participant is being provided with material support in the form of equipment, printed instructional materials and chemicals used in the replacement units. Project INQUIRES staff gave in-class support to various participants during the implementation of the replacement units. We have monthly meetings planned with the participants in which they discuss their progress in the implementation of the replacement units. They also share tips and techniques on the implementation process. INQUIRES participants communicate with each other through a variety of means. There is an email newsletter that provides updates on the progress of implementation. A website has been designed to provide resources for the teaching of their units. Each participant also has the email addresses of the other participants and they are encouraged to communicate with each other.

      Describe the extent of teacher involvement (i.e., please give the number of teachers attending sessions and the number of hours of LSC PD that each teacher has had in that year or in the project to date).

      There are 23 teachers in the project. During the Summer Institute, they attended 8 hours a day for 10 days. They have also attended one after school PD session for 2 hours.

      Describe the degree of classroom and school implementation.

      The 23 teachers in the project represent 10 middle schools and 2 high schools. To date, of the 23 teachers, 22 have started to implement the replacement units in their classrooms.

      Describe any PD activities for non-teachers (e.g., scientists, principals).

      In preparation for the Summer Institute, several meetings were conducted with the college and university staff. At these meetings, school district staff met with the instructors to explore appropriate instructional practices and to make them aware of district science standards in order to coordinate the summer content for the Summer Institute. This preparation took approximately 30 hours. Presentations were made to the middle school principals informing them of Project INQUIRES and the nature of the instructional practices that the project encourages.

    4. Describe outreach activities your project has undertaken.

      Outreach Activities -- What?

      Nothing yet to report

  3. Publications and Products:

    Presentation at CUSER (Center for Urban Science Education Reform) conference on the elements of a summer enhancement institute

    Project INQUIRES web site --

    Email newsletter

  4. Contributions:

    The San Francisco Unified School District has received state funds for science materials and equipment and will use this money to purchase materials necessary for the implementation of the designated INQUIRES replacement units. The K-5 material resource center will be expanded and will coordinate the refurbishment of all consumable materials required for these units.

    In order to effect teachers understanding of the relationship between formative assessment and changing teacher practice we have engaged in conversations with Dr. Myron Atkins of Stanford University to participate in their assessment study, Promoting Student Learning Through Ongoing Assessment in the Classroom.

  5. Special Requirements:

    As a result of the USP Carmelo Sgarlato was made science supervisor and will assume the position of co-PI with Sandra Lam at 20% of his time. Sandra Lam will continue as co-PI and will reduce her time from 20% to 5%.