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ASSET Teacher Enhancement, Inc. Project Annual Overview

published: 12/07/2001
posted to site: 12/07/2001

ASSET Teacher Enhancement, Inc. Project
Annual Overview

Project Activities - What?

Over the course of the 2000/01 school year, ASSET Inc. has transitioned into an organization based on fee for service. In doing so, we analyzed programs and costs and articulated both our products and services and produced a Professional Development Catalog. This process institutionalized the professional development program that the Local Systemic Change project, called ASSET Teacher Enhancement, initiated. As an organization, we offer Professional Development Courses, Institutes, Colloquia and Conferences, along with several other support services. For the current year, the 30 original school districts plus 4 new ones have committed to varying levels of membership. This revenue stream enables ASSET to continue to provide high quality, relevant professional development for teachers and administrators; hands-on materials; and university partnership programs through the Principals Academy at the University of Pittsburgh and the Inquiry Science Endorsement process primarily at Duquesne University.

Additionally, through ASSET's leadership role that was established through the LSC, three satellite organizations have developed in surrounding counties that benefited indirectly from the LSC. They serve an additional 35 districts by supporting the comprehensive program of professional development, materials provision, and partner integration in their geographic areas. The impact of NSF's investment in this region has been profound, and ASSET Inc. is pleased to be in a position to continue to play a leadership role in the development of hands-on, inquiry-based science teaching and learning in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

    Professional development activities for the year are outlined as follows:

  1. Each year, we set the stage for the coming school year with teacher and administrative leaders and partners at the ASSET Leadership Conference. For 5 days in early August (2000) at a local resort, 187 participants (teacher leaders and administrators) engaged in professional education sessions on Inquiry; Integration of Math and Science; Life, Earth, Chemical and Physical Science Content, and Formative Assessment. Consultants from the Institute for Inquiry at the Exploratorium assisted in the Inquiry sessions. Opportunities for meaningful reflection were built into each session.
  2. We co-conducted our first Institute for Inquiry at Carlow College for 24 teacher participants and 8 principals who observed the sessions and debriefed on their observations. Consultants from the Exploratorium assisted the ASSET facilitators. The intent was to enable local ASSET facilitators to conduct Institutes for Inquiry on their own in the coming year.
  3. Throughout the school year, we conducted 4 regional training days, which provided 50 one-day courses on specific modules, questioning techniques, inquiry, assessment, and science content. Approximately 1,400 teachers from the entire Southwestern Pennsylvania region took advantage of these courses.
  4. We also conducted 4 Institutes for Inquiry, 2 in a study group format that met for 5 days spaced out over several months. The informal results indicate greater understanding of the inquiry approach and a subsequently greater ability to transfer the skills to classroom instruction. One ASSET Resource Teacher commented: "We're changing teaching through the Institutes, one teacher at a time." An Institute for Inquiry was also designed by graduates of the Exploratorium's Institute and conducted for administrators.
  5. The ASSET Resource Teachers facilitated colloquia in all 30 districts throughout the year. Colloquia include study groups, demonstration lessons, think tank sessions integrating pedagogy and content, and coaching. These colloquia produced a desired "ripple" effect in the professional development. For example, one district organized 8 module-related one-hour think tank sessions and opened them up to other districts in the coalition served by one of the Resource Teachers.
  6. During the summer (our first under the new fee structure), we offered 34 different sessions under the newly defined Academy for Elementary Science Instruction, Academy for Inquiry, and Academy for Ecosystem Studies. The sessions included courses, institutes and field studies, and were attended by 240 unduplicated paying participants.
Since ASSET's programs have been institutionalized in the districts, paid commitments for courses and institutes for the current year are substantial. They will provide 1,214 participants with a total of 13,284 hours of professional development during the course of the year.