Retention and renewal of accomplished science teachers in urban schools depend on opportunities and support for learning. This project will establish and maintain Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) focused on disciplinary knowledge of core scientific theories and models, on scientific ways of generating and validating knowledge; on students' understanding and ways of learning; on standards and research based teaching; and on qualities of exemplary curricula that support teaching/learning.
In Phase I, Michigan State University (MSU) science education faculty and graduate students will work intensively/collaboratively each summer and school year with a core group of 48 K-8 science teachers and principals from the Lansing School District (LSD). These individuals will become master teachers and co-leaders for Phase II.
In Phase II, teacher leaders and principals will coach and mentor 45 new teachers and teachers new to standards-based, inquiry-oriented teaching, each year. It is expected that 200 new teachers will be mentored during the life of the project. Lansing School District will contribute $25,000 each year of the grant for teacher stipends, principal release time, meetings and coaching.
Documentation of inquiry in Phases I and II will provide resources for the district's work with other teachers focused on inquiry into challenging, high-quality teaching and learning; exemplary curriculum matched to state and national standards, revised for local urban contexts; and experienced mentors and coaches for supporting teachers new to the district. Project impact will be assessed by student performance on district, state and national assessments; quality of units and assessments developed by teacher participants; quality of support provided by school administrators; and additional professional development opportunities sought by participants.