Leadership for Educators: Academy for Driving Economic Revitalization in Science (LEADERS) is a mathematics and science partnership that gathers and merges the expertise of four essential entities in the economic revitalization of the Great Lakes Region - K-12 school districts, higher education, the renewable energy industry, and informal science education sites. The core partners (the Colleges of Arts & Sciences and Education at the University of Toledo and the Toledo Public Schools) and supporting partners (the University of Toledo College of Engineering, Akron area schools, the Toledo Diocese Schools, the Monroe County Intermediate School District, Monroe County Community College, the Toledo Science Center, TechniGraphics, Blue Water Satellite, Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization, and Great Lakes WIND Network) of the LEADERS partnership share a vision of student-centered education that knits community economic growth with science education. The goal of LEADERS is to improve science education by making it relevant to students through the incorporation of Project-Based Science (PBS) that is linked to the renewable energies industry and its environmental impacts, which is becoming a vital element in the economic development of the Great Lakes Region. Drawing from the four partner school districts, one cohort of six teachers per district are participating in the LEADERS program for 2Â½ years per cohort (total teacher leaders, 24). Teams of teacher leaders from each district include two each from the elementary, middle, and high school levels. To facilitate district implementation, one principal and one district administrator are also participating in the Institute along with their cohort of teacher leaders. During the summer, teacher leaders complete graduate courses in physics, chemistry, environmental science, and engineering. Content courses are team taught by a scientist and a science educator who model blending the content with PBS. When the teacher leaders return to their respective districts, they are responsible for overseeing the design and implementation of PBS activities that connect state and national science standards with relevant applications.
LEADERS is striving toward the following outcomes: 1) Developing a cadre of effective teacher leaders who are capable of transforming science education by linking science content with emerging science-based industries in the Great Lakes Region. 2) Increasing the number of teachers in partnering districts who have strong content, pedagogy and leadership skills and knowledge. 3) Transforming existing K-12 science courses to rigorous and relevant science courses through PBS. 4) Preparing K-12 students who meet science and mathematics achievement standards while also becoming interested in science and technical careers. 5) Developing community science education networks that collaborate through the development and implementation of advanced or improved science courses.
The goal of LEADERS was to improve science education by making it relevant to students through the incorporation of Project-Based Science (PBS) that is linked to the renewable energies industry and its environmental impacts, which is becoming a vital element in the economic development of the Great Lakes Region. The outcomes of LEADERS were to: 1) Develop a cadre of effective teacher leaders who transform science education by linking science content with emerging science-based industries in Great Lakes Region. 2) Increase the number of teachers in partnering districts who have strong content, pedagogy and leadership skills and knowledge. 3) Transform existing K-12 science courses to rigorous and relevant science courses through Project-Based Science (PBS). 4) Prepare K-12 students who can meet science and mathematics achievement standards and who become interested in science and technical careers. 5) Develop community science education networks that collaborate through the development and implementation of advanced or improved science courses. The results of the program include: Teacher Leaders The LEADERS coursework, designed such that participants could work toward their Masters degree simultaneously, consisted of eight science content courses related to renewable energy, one methodology course on PBS, and three leadership courses given over three summers. Of the 23 participants who were selected for LEADERS, six teacher leaders completed additional requirements and received their Masters degree, and several more are working toward it or other advanced degrees. Survey results indicate that these 23 teacher leaders prefer inquiry science teaching methods over non-inquiry, feel more confident in their ability to teach science effectively, and have grown more comfortable with their leadership responsibilities. In addition, direct observation of the teacher leaders while they present professional development (PD) indicates that they perform the majority of the functions of the Teacher Leader Model Standards (Teacher Leader Exploratory Committee, 2011), a set of standards which describe the wide-ranging set of roles that teacher leaders might take on. Not only have they taken on leadership roles in their districts, but nearly all of them have presented aspects of their work at national conferences. Indeed, four of those teacher leaders have now taken formal leadership positions in their districts, in part due to their association with LEADERS. Reference: Teacher Leadership Exploratory Consortium (2011). Teacher leader model standards. Retrieved from www.teacherleaderstandards.org/downloads/TLS_Brochure.pdf. District Teachers To disseminate their knowledge, the teacher leaders planned and presented PD sessions for their peers each year for three years. These PD sessions focused on teaching renewable energy science content and PBS pedagogy. As a result, 385 teachers in the three partnering school districts received high quality professional development on a research-supported teaching method, along with relevant and interesting science content. Feedback from participants indicated that they found the material useful and relevant; direct observations of select participating teachers suggest that they are incorporating the practices from the PD sessions into their classrooms. K-12 Science Courses The teacher leaders developed a myriad of renewable energy PBS units that were aligned to their state standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. For example, Peggy Riehl, a teacher with the Toledo Diocese (OH), taught her fifth grade class the science of obtaining energy from wind turbines. In this unit, students designed and tested their own turbine blades. Jacob Anastasoff, a high school teacher in Ida Public Schools (MI), helped his students ask and answer their own questions about sustainability in a long-term investigation in his 9th grade biology course. Students built bio-digesters to capture and use methane, used a wind turbine to charge a battery, and captured waste heat from an oven, among other projects. Tysen Belcher, a middle school science teacher in Toledo Public Schools (OH), helped her students figure out how to convert battery-powered toys to run on solar power. Tricia McCloskey, a fourth grade teacher in Jefferson Public Schools (MI), adapted a commercially available kit, Snap Circuits, to allow her students to measure the power generated by solar panels and wind turbines. K-12 Students Approximately 9625 students received science instruction from a LEADERS-trained teacher. This resulted in 9625 students experiencing a more student-centered science unit that was tied to questions of interest to them. Preliminary analysis of student test score data in Toledo Public Schools shows an association between an increase in mean science score (26-65 points on the raw score, depending on the school) and the years that a student had a LEADERS-trained teacher. The Community LEADERS PIs hired a business liaison to help link teachers to the resources in their communities. He helped bring University of Toledo resources, such as the electron microscope facility, into K-12 classrooms through the teacher leaders and their PD sessions. He also linked 35 businesses to 25 classrooms through guest speakers, guest teachers, or field trips.