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TAPESTRIES Program Teaches Elementary Science Teachers New Techniques and Programs

published: 02/22/2001
posted to site: 02/22/2001

TAPESTRIES Program Teaches Elementary Science Teachers
New Techniques and Programs

by Meira Zucker

This article appeared in the Toledo Area Parent News magazine, Feb. 2001 issue

A tapestry is more than a woven fabric. In our area, it is also a weaving of new science programs with new teaching techniques to insure that elementary school children receive and best science teaching available.

When Toledo Public Schools and Springfield Local Schools recently upgraded their elementary school science programs, teachers lacked the experience to make the best use of the STC (Science and Technology for Children), FOSS (Full Option Science System) and Scholastic science education packages.

TAPESTRIES (Toledo Area Partnership in Education: Support Teachers as Resources to Improve Elementary Science) is a five-year project to develop comprehensive science programs through professional development activities during summer institutes and academic-year sessions.

As part of the program, Toledo and Springfield K-6 teachers take classes at the University of Toledo or at Bowling Green State University that focus on the new science programs. Janet Struble, the assistant coordinator, says "We're improving the quality of science teaching being done."

Struble says that 15 support teachers, veterans of the program, have gone into the schools to help other staff teach materials, arrange field trips, and set up visits from scientists. (Substitute teachers temporarily take their place in the classroom; their salaries are paid by the grant.)

Seven hundred teachers have been through the program so far, says Connie Black-Postl, program coordinator, and 700 more will enroll.

"One concern is to increase the science content knowledge of elementary school teachers," says Dr. Charlene Czerniak, interim dean of the College of Education at the University of Toledo. Scientists from UT and BGSU co-teach the classes with education professors so that content is linked with teaching methods.

Preliminary data and anecdotal reports suggest a link between improved proficiency test scores and teachers who have gone through the training, but a concrete connection is difficult to prove. Teachers who have participated, however, review the program approvingly. "After this wonderful experience, I am not only looking forward to teaching science, I can't wait to get my hands on the four kits, to put things together, or to try thing out for myself before the students arrive," writes John Jordan of Reynolds Elementary School.

One March 3, TAPESTRIES will host a symposium at Bowsher High School for the 1,400 Toledo Public School and 90 Springfield Public School teachers involved in the program. Sessions will include updates to the program, general speakers, and additional teaching and research ideas. The meeting, says Czerniak, will "keep the process going."