This project is a collaborative partnership between Beaufort County Schools; Craven County Schools; Wayne County Schools; the East Carolina University (ECU) Departments of Physics and Mathematics, Science, and Instructional Technology Education; and the East Carolina University Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education to provide integrated content and pedagogical professional development in the physical science areas of Forces and Motion and Energy: Conservation and Transfer to teachers in grades K-8.
Each year 25 teachers selected from the participating local educational agencies (LEAs) from three grade levels (6-8 in year 1, 3-5 in year 2, and K-2 in year 3) will participate in content knowledge sessions held on Saturdays during the school year at the ECU Department of Physics. During these sessions the teachers will learn content through hands-on activities, experiments, and inquiry-based learning. These content knowledge sessions will also include integrated pedagogical discussions.
Participants will be given a classroom demonstration kit appropriate to their grade levels. After the school year, the teachers will form grade-level teams for three days of intense work developing a curriculum unit appropriate for their students. Next, the grade-level teams will teach their curriculum units to students from their counties attending a five-day session at the ECU Summer Science Camp on scholarships funded by this grant. During years 2 and 3, five teacher leaders will be selected from the previous year participants to serve as a Teacher Mentor/Vertical Teaming cadre during the professional development sessions and for other teachers in their counties.
The teacher participants and the teacher leaders each will receive 84 hours of face-to-face professional development. An extensive evaluation protocol will use pre- and post-tests of both teachers and students to measure content learning outcomes and student achievement. The research component of this project will address the question of whether physical science professional development has a positive impact on student achievement within the teacher participants' regular classroom setting.
Benchmark tests will be used to track student achievement in the participants' classes after the program and to compare participants' student achievement with student achievement of other teachers' students within the same grade level in order to establish a link between teacher professional development and increased student achievement.