Summer programs boost math, science education
BOWLING GREEN, O.—More than 100 elementary and secondary school teachers, most of them from northwest Ohio, will spend several summer days at Bowling Green State University as part of ongoing grant-funded projects aimed at improving mathematics and science education.
The University is hosting an eight-day summer institute for Northwest Ohio Teachers Enhancing Achievement in Mathematics and Science (NWO TEAMS), which enters its first year as a fully BGSU project, and third year overall, with an infusion of about $733,500 from the Ohio Department of Education’s Ohio Mathematics and Science Partnership Program.
That state program is also funding, with just under $483,000, a second year of Developing Regional Excellence for Achievement in Mathematics and Science Education (DREAMS). Participants in that teacher-education project will be on campus the third week of June for a STEM Leadership Academy.
STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, and both projects represent a continuation of Bowling Green’s efforts to improve instruction in those disciplines.
Up to 100 teachers of grades 3-6 will be part of NWO TEAMS, which started as a joint effort between BGSU and the University of Toledo but is now strictly a Bowling Green project. The grant has risen from $350,000 two years ago and about $634,000 last year.
Also changing this year are the composition and focus of TEAMS. The project will address only science, and special education teachers have been invited to join their regular-classroom colleagues, with a goal of learning “differentiated instruction” for all students, said Jessica Belcher, program manager for the professional-development project as well as for DREAMS.
“We took the advice of our previous participants who wanted more special education focus,” she noted, adding that those teachers had said “we need more help in teaching to the gifted and the special-needs students in our classrooms.”
The decision to limit the project’s scope to science was for “no reason other than time constraints,” Belcher explained, saying there are more topics to cover in science and insufficient time to cover math as well. Participants learn different classroom approaches and how best to address state standards.
Drs. Emilio Duran, an assistant professor in BGSU’s School of Teaching and Learning, and Lena Ballone Duran, an associate professor in the same school, are principal project leaders. Dr. Amy Scheuermann, an assistant professor of intervention services, is the lead instructor of participating special educators, while Dr. T. Berry Cobb, a professor emeritus of physics and astronomy, will be one of two scientists teaching the teachers. Also instructing them will be other, leading K-12 teachers from the area, Belcher said.
Following the summer institute June 23-27 and June 30-July 2 will be eight days of school-year follow-up—four each in the fall and spring—plus another four days in summer 2009. Participants will receive stipends of $400 for this summer and the 2008-09 school year and $200 for summer 2009. In addition, through a leasing program with Delta Education and Carolina Biological, teachers will be able to use science kits not only this summer but also in their classrooms next school year.
DREAMS provides scholarship money for teachers to pursue master’s degrees in physics, biology, interdisciplinary science (for grades 6-9) or math, or toward obtaining a specialist endorsement in science or math.
Under a cost-share agreement, the Graduate College and Continuing and Extended Education at BGSU contribute about half of the funding for the project. It pays for eight graduate hours of instruction, while individual teachers pay for one credit hour of instruction up front and all general fees—an arrangement that Belcher called “an excellent deal” for participants.
A group of about 50 teachers started in the program last summer, taking graduate courses at Bowling Green, and is continuing this year. Their four-day leadership academy will begin June 16, while the new group—which has room for 65 participants—will come to campus the following day to start their leadership training. It will include such topics as leading organizational change, working with adult learners and identifying best practices in their field, according to Belcher.
“Our focus is to make them leaders in math and science education” in their schools, districts and the region, along with giving them content-area skills for master’s degrees, she said. “They have to have the content to become a leader.”
Dr. Eileen Underwood, an associate professor of biology at BGSU, is the project leader on the DREAMS grant, which is also increasing after starting this year at about $350,000.
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Editor’s note: For more information about NWO TEAMS and DREAMS, contact Jessica Belcher at 419-372-5571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Posted May 20, 2008 )