Through a Mathematics and Science Partnership Grant from the Virginia Department of Education, Sweet Briar College partnered with local schools to help Kindergarten through 5th grade teachers provide high quality, inquiry- based instruction in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM subjects). The grant specifically focused on areas of science in the physical science realm.
During the 2012-13 school year, inquiry-trained teachers worked in partnership with STEM faculty educators at the college. Following the INoVATR model (see our Professional Development Model), the teachers first developed a lesson plan that involved a Structured Inquiry approach to teaching in the content area. Next, the teachers implemented and assessed the lesson that they had planned. And finally, the teachers reflected on the lesson and used assessment data to suggest improvements to the lesson plant for the future. Each teacher in the program repeated this cycle a total of three times – such that each teacher had an opportunity to develop – implement – assess – and reflect on a lesson that used a structured inquiry approach (cycle 1), a guided inquiry approach (cycle 2) and a an open inquiry approach (cycle 3). At the end of professional development program, each teacher wrote one final inquiry lesson, using any of the inquiry approaches studied, to demonstrate her understanding of the pedagogy.
Of all the lessons written and tested during the project, those with the highest correspondence to established criteria that are consist with inquiry teaching and learning are provided here as resources to be shared.
Participating school(s) divisions include:
- Amherst County Public Schools
- Appomattox County Public Schools
- Bedford County Public Schools
- Nelson County Public Schools
- Increase teachers’ scientific process skills and understanding of the nature of science in an environment that supports the teachers’ increasing content knowledge
- Increase teachers’ understanding and use of inquiry instruction with proven practices from research literature in mind.
- Increase teachers’ understanding and use of continuous assessment practices thereby ensuring that students’ achievement in science increases.
- Validate and disseminate a professional development model that reliably shifts teachers’ classroom practices toward an inquiry approach.
Our Dissemination Conference was held at Sweet Briar College on June 18, 2013.
Approximately 100 K-5th grade teachers and administrators from Virginia’s regions 5, 6, and 8 schools – and beyond – attended the project’s dissemination conference.
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