Paper No. 7
Presentation Time: 8:00 AM-12:00 PM
WANT COHERENCY IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT AND CLASSROOMS? CONSIDER THE CONNECT-ED MODEL: FOCUSING K-12 TEACHERS ON BIG IDEAS IN SCIENCE AND MATHEMATICS
Recent national reports have called for improvement in the coherency of science and mathematics education programs; in particular, learners need to understand the connections between ideas learned at different grade levels (e.g. NRC 2006; NCTM 2006). For the last four years, Rider University's CONNECT-ED consortium has offered innovative professional development that connects elementary, middle and high school curricula in math and science. CONNECT-ED capitalizes on expertise from numerous partners to offer inquiry-based Big Idea Modules (BIMs) developed by school district teams, each comprised of three teachers (representing elementary, middle and high school levels), a district administrator and a consortium scientist. BIM workshops are presented to other K-12 teachers in the form of summer institutes and school-year mini-institutes, and are combined with other science/math initiatives. In a BIM workshop, participants explore how concepts from different grade levels build student understanding of selected big ideas in math and science. BIMs provide a rich, integrated learning experience that 1) models effective inquiry-based instruction, 2) addresses students' prior learning and builds towards future learning (vertical articulation), 3) facilitates deeper understanding of concepts and connections, and 4) encourages reconsideration of teaching strategies and district curriculum. The summer 2007 CONNECT-ED Institute included a week of Earth science BIMs, with one of the BIMs on weather and climate using hurricanes as a hook to address content benchmarks (AAAS). The BIM starts with (and revisits throughout) a focus question: What would happen to hurricanes if the earth stopped rotating? Participants then progress from elementary school lessons on heating of the atmosphere, through middle school lessons on convection currents, to high school lessons on the Coriolis effect. Independent evaluations have documented that CONNECT-ED is highly effective in increasing teachers' knowledge of high-level content, enhancing their use of effective inquiry-based instruction, and facilitating their ability to build coherence across grade levels.