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Guiding Education in Math & Science Network GEMS-NET 2001

published: 11/30/2001
posted to site: 11/30/2001

Guiding Education in Math & Science Network GEMS-NET--2001

Project Description--The Guiding Education in Math & Science Network (GEMS-NET) project involves a partnership among K-8 teachers from seven Rhode Island school districts and 70 scientists, engineers, and science educators from the University of Rhode Island. GEMS-NET began with funding from local school districts and Eisenhower Higher Education funds in October 1996 and became an LSC on May 1, 1998. The project provides professional development in science content, pedagogy, and appropriate embedded assessment methodology for 428 K-6 teachers, 25 elementary (1-6) science specialist teachers. The project is working with 36 science teachers (7th and 8th grade) in the partner districts. Additionally, the PD sessions have included 58 special education/support service teachers and 14 substitute teachers and aids from GEMS-NET districts, and 85 visiting teachers from non-project districts. All of the 179 elementary education students from the last three years received instruction in inquiry methods and using quality kit materials in their science methods. Seventy-four of these student teachers have received additional professional development in our regular sessions for veteran teachers.

The primary objectives of GEMS-NET are to:

  • provide high quality professional development in science content, pedagogical, and assessment knowledge of all K-8 teachers who serve more than 18,901 children in GEMS-NET's 53 Rhode Island schools,
  • develop the content and leadership skills of a growing cadre of 51teacher leaders,
  • provide classroom level assistance through classroom coaching and internet-based help,
  • train teachers to utilize exemplary inquiry-based, hands-on science kits in delivering a core science curriculum which is aligned with national science reform initiatives,
  • incorporate the use of inquiry pedagogy and kit-based science teaching in the curriculum for all (179 thus far) URI elementary and elementary/middle pre-service teachers,
  • build communities of learners with K-8 teachers, pre-service teachers, science educators, and scientists to foster reflection on science teaching practice,
  • enable scientists and K-8 teachers to incorporate connections between kits and Rhode Island ecosystems and science related industry as well as to examine interconnections among branches of science and across grade level kits,
  • implement the new generation of kit-based science (STC Middle) to teachers in grades 7-8,
  • develop a series of kit-based performance assessments to gauge children's attainment of standards-based science knowledge and skills,
  • establish the mechanisms to maintain science materials through a partnership between teachers, districts and the NSF funded, East Bay Materials Resource Center, and
  • establish a sustainable framework for science education reform that includes the continued use of high quality materials, systematic refurbishment, continued PD for new and grade changing teachers, and continued collaboration with science mentors.
GEMS-NET Major Accomplishments 2000-2001:
  • Provided 1789 hours of professional development in science curriculum, basic science kit training, science content and leadership in the first 44 months of funding. With our previous professional development efforts under an Eisenhower grant, the total hours of programming has reached 2080 hours or 26,617 teacher/hours of PD. The NSF funding sponsored 187 release-day sessions, 30 Summer Institutes, and 10 semester courses.
  • Made school committee presentations of "Century Club" certificates to 32 GEMS-NET teachers who have participated in at least 100 hours of professional development.
  • Added 106 sampling frame teachers to the 100-hour professional development project.
  • Continued training teachers so that ALL teachers in grades 1-6 use three (3) kits in their classrooms this year; kindergarten teachers use two (2) kits. This training will enable teachers to use 1720 kits this year, up from 1695 kit uses last year.
  • Introduced 7th /8th grade teachers to inquiry-based middle school science materials including STC-Middle, Event Based Science, Toxic Waste (SEPUPS) and PASCO probes.
  • Provided inquiry-based science methods instruction for 20 principals and all URI's elementary teacher education students over the last three years.
  • Included 74 student teachers in kit training sessions.
  • Recruited 70 scientists/engineers from the University of Rhode Island, environmental organizations, and private industry, who have devoted a combined total of 2587 hours to assist teachers and students in developing greater science content knowledge related to kits.
  • Held two 2-day Leadership & Inquiry Retreat attended by 50 teacher leader/trainers, 28 scientists, 12 district/university administrators and 8 GEMS-NET staff.
  • Developed a 22-page GEMS-NET website as a resource to GEMS-NET teachers.
  • Programmed a FileMaker Pro database to maintain GEMS-NET training and kit records.
  • Programmed a web-based Beta version of an interactive kit and training schedule.
  • Written and distributed 9 GEMS-NET Newsletters.
  • Developed special instructional materials and guides (e.g., GEMS-NET Writing Prompts, Simple Machines Guide, GlowBugs unit, K Seasons, and Narragansett Bay Ecosystems).
  • Worked with 10 Teachers-in-Residence to assist all aspects of training and teacher support.
  • Met monthly with the Steering Committee comprised of 2-3 teachers from each district.
  • Maintained the continued support of 7 GEMS-NET superintendents,
  • Documented over $539,384 in district cost share, up from $324,096 documented last year.
  • Secured over $300,000 in state funding for the East Bay Material Resource Center.
  • Assisted in extending high quality science training opportunities to other Rhode Island school districts by providing 2249 teacher hours of PD for non-GEMS-NET teachers and through collaboration with the KITES-LSC in a Science and Literacy conference,
  • Collaborated with other science education providers to extend the menu of science professional development for teachers (e.g., Save the Bay, URI Marine Programs).
  • Recruited and trained 28 parent volunteers to help teachers with kit inventory and set up