2005 Salt Lake City Annual Meeting (October 16–19, 2005)

Paper No. 19
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM-5:30 PM


WILLCUTS, Peggy M.1, WIEDA, Karen J.2, ESTES, Jeffrey C.2, GOODWIN, Shannon M.3, HORTON, Duane G.4 and REIDEL, Stephen P.4, (1)Walla Walla School District, 421 S. 4th St, Walla Walla, WA 99362, (2)Science Education Programs, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PO Box 999, MS K5-12, Richland, WA 99352, (3)Advanced Radioanalytical Chemistry, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PO Box 999, MS P7-07, Richland, WA 99352, (4)Environmental Characterization and Risk Assessment, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, PO Box 999, MS K6-75, Richland, WA 99352, pwillcuts@wwps.org

The grade level expectations (state standards) in Washington State were released in January 2005. Teacher leaders were brought together through the Washington State Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) program to identify gaps in the existing National Science Foundation (NSF) supported curriculum used by elementary schools across Washington State. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) agreed to facilitate the work necessary to fill the earth science related gaps through the US Department of Energy sponsored Laboratory Science Teacher Professional Development (LSTPD) Program.

A major goal of LSTPD is to link a team of five teachers committed to excellence in teaching with outstanding scientists willing to mentor teachers and establish long-term relationships. Using a scenario-based approach, the teacher leaders were invited to participate in two weeks of intense field experience exploring the geology of the Pacific Northwest. From the edge of the crater of Mt. St. Helens to the fossil beds of John Day, these teachers deepened their geoscience content knowledge under the mentorship of the PNNL scientists. Armed with this enhanced knowledge, they were tasked with the challenge of developing curriculum enhancements to fill the previously identified geoscience gaps.

A review of the existing statewide curriculum showed that the best place to tether this curricular enhancement was a rocks and minerals unit. The teachers began by researching the tradebook literature, web resources, and any other available teaching resources to avoid duplicating already existing materials. Then, the teachers worked to create a design to be used as the template for all materials developed to fill the standards gaps. Instructional materials were created and a timeline was developed for piloting these materials in the teacher leader classrooms.

Student work will be gathered and examined for evidence of student learning. This information will be used to revise the curricular enhancements for use in a second set of classrooms. This process will be repeated until a final published product can be created. The right combination of teacher leaders and scientists, each bringing to the partnership their own expertise, is the key to this powerful and highly effective collaboration.