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Annual Report Overviews


Academic Success for Students and Educators Together Annual Report Overview

published: 11/29/2000
posted to site: 11/29/2000
Activities and findings:

Activities and findings:

Research and Education Activities:

ASSET is a five-year science reform effort for all K-8 faculty, administrators, and their students 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.

During the 1999-2000 school year 205 K-2 teachers successfully implemented the first module in their classrooms. Day-long follow-up sessions were conducted during the school year in which the teachers were able to share successes, address concerns and participate in additional inquiry activities to enhance their understanding of science content.

Professional Development sessions (summer and fall, 2000) were conducted for 173 K-2 faculty in the use of the second module and 130 grade 3-5 faculty in the use of the first module with effective teaching strategies necessary for successful implementation. To accommodate the elementary faculty participants, two (one-week) sessions (June 19-23, 2000 for K-2 faculty and July 31-August 4, 2000 for Grade 3-5 faculty) were conducted for each grade level at two different sites (a total of six different sites across the four divisions). Make-up sessions will be conducted on the campus of Southwest Virginia Community College for faculty from the four divisions who missed a day of summer or fall training, are newly hired, or who have transferred to a different grade.

Follow-up sessions are 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 professionaldevelopment in the form of inquiry activities is provided to deepentheir understanding of science content, provide strategies forimproving pedagogy, and establish the need for self-reflection and self-evaluation.

Sessions are being conducted for grade 6-8 faculty (who have not yet begun module training) that will emphasize the use of effective pedagogical skills and classroom assessment to improve instruction.

Needs assessments (content, appropriate pedagogical skills, support structures, etc.) will be conducted during annual professional development sessions with all K-8 faculty. Professional development activities (for K-8 faculty and administrators) will be designed to address the identified needs.

Awareness sessions for grade 9-12 science faculty have been conducted in two divisions to inform secondary faculty of the reform in science teaching taking place at the elementary level and make them aware of the need to sustain hands-on, inquiry learning at the secondary level.

Presentations to create awareness and acquire support have been made to:

* Kiwanis Club

* Rotary Club

* Delta Kappa Gamma Society

* Retired Teachers Association

* School Boards

* Division administrators and Central Office staffs

* Director of Cumberland Plateau Planning Commission

* Baxter Foundation Board

* McGlothlin Foundation Board

* Thompson Foundation Board

* American Electric Power

* Rapoca Coal, Inc.

Major Accomplishments:

* Establishment of Materials Resource Center on Campus of SVCC with commitment of additional space (during 2001) from the Cumberland Plateau Planning Commission

* First year of rotation and use of science modules very successful

* 'Follow-up' sessions with teachers after implementing a module have been extremely positive

* Second year of implementation has begun smoothly

* Public Relations efforts have been successful in establishing community support and a reliable political base

* Awareness sessions have been conducted for 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

* Faculty may use the 105 hours of ASSET Professional Development in

lieu of a three hour graduate course normally required for certificate renewall---a spatial accomodation granted by the Virginia State Department of Education at the request of the four division superintendents

* A newsletter has been established for educators and parents to share project information

* A project website has been established to ensure participating faculty and administrators are informed about project activities

* A brochure has been produced to assist with creating public awareness about the scope and needs of the project

* A Finance Committee, consisting of representatives from the four participating counties, has been formed to assist in establishing partnerships with area businesses

* Two Project Faculty attended the Exploratorium Institute of Inquiry in San Francisco, California to participate in a week of training in the Design of Professional Development


Major findings include:

* Five years is not enough time to successfully implement change

* All elementary faculty involved in the project need extensive professional development in science content, especially the physical and earth sciences

* Upper level elementary faculty need extensive professional development in effective pedagogical skills necessary for implementing inquiry science

* Most elementary faculty are very intimidated and uncomfortable with teaching science

* Elementary faculty appreciate having their peers (fellow elementary faculty who are experienced with modules and inquiry teaching) conduct professional development sessions

* Most elementary teachers express that they will not take traditional college science content courses

* Most Kindergarten and First grade faculty 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

* Elementary faculty have expressed an increase in confidence when teaching a module the second time

* More content is being included in workshop sessions upon request of elementary faculty

* The use of inquiry-based, hands-on instruction during module training in a non-threatening environment encourages teachers to become active learners who see the value of using cooperative learning strategies, effective questioning, and alternative methods of assessment

* Upon completion, the module activities prepare teachers for the inevitable 'unexpected outcomes' that will occur when implementing the modules in their classrooms

* Teachers develop confidence in their ability to become 'facilitators' as they complete module activities and build their science knowledge overwhelming