FHSU's Adams notified of $706,667 grant approval for Improving Teacher Quality Grant

Dr. Paul Adams, Anschutz professor of education and professor of physics at Fort Hays State University, has received an official award notice of $706,667 (a three-year total which depends on the funds actually being appropriated by the U.S. Congress) from the Kansas Board of Regents for an Improving Teacher Quality Grant.

The No Child Left Behind grant is a collaborative effort with Emporia State University, Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL) and the Kansas Board of Regents to teach middle school teachers how to teach science by the "modeling method of instruction," said Adams.

The first year of funding is $230,170. Adams' grant proposal was titled "Physical Science with Mathematical Modeling Workshop."

The workshops in this first year will run Monday through Thursday from July 11 to July 28 at both FHSU and ESU.

The sessions will run concurrently at both institutions and some sessions will be conducted jointly through an interactive television (ITV) link.

" The idea is to create a statewide model," said Adams, with FHSU reaching out to the western half of the state and ESU reaching the eastern half. Another benefit of the joint ITV sessions during the workshop, he said, is that the teachers will be able to begin forming a statewide network among themselves.

Applications for the 48 positions -- 24 at each institution -- received by April 22 will get preference, said Adams.

Preference will also be given to middle school teachers, he said, although secondary teachers can apply. This is because the federal grant program is aimed at middle school teachers. The Kansas program is just one of many opportunities around the country this year for middle school teachers to learn the modeling method of instruction.

Middle school teachers are the targets, he said, because studies have shown that middle school students are at the age where they either develop an interest in science and math or they do not.

" This is where kids will get turned on or turned off of science and math," said Adams.

And Kansas, like many other places in the United States, he said, has not done a lot at preparing teachers in these schools to teach specific content. They are well prepared in teaching skills and techniques, but they are not nearly as focused on specific content as in secondary education, where the physics teacher, for instance, will actually be trained as a physics teacher.

Facilitators from Arizona will conduct the workshops, teaching both content and the modeling method of instruction.

" It is a construction of knowledge," he said. "Instead of just teaching them formulas, we teach them how to do things that arrive at the knowledge. We answer the question, 'How do we come to know these things? ' "

Funds from the grant will pay the attending teachers $60 per day; will pay for tuition and, for those who need it, housing; and it will pay for $500 in technology aids (a graphing calculator, sonic rangers, radiation probes) for each teacher to take back to the classrooms.

The first-year grant is focused on physics and the physical sciences. Chemistry will be the second-year focus and, in the third, earth and space sciences and biology.

The grant will also help provide follow-up. The teachers will gather twice more, once in the fall and once in the spring, to tell how they have used the workshop information in the classroom. These follow-up sessions will also be conducted simultaneously at FHSU and ESU, and they will be linked by ITV.

Two other FHSU faculty members are involved in the project: Dr. Zdeslav Hrepic, assistant professor of physics, and Dr. Beth Walizer, assistant professor of teacher education. At Emporia State, the faculty involved are Dr. Malonne Davies, assistant professor of physical sciences, and Matt Seimears, instructor in the Teachers College.

Earl Legleiter from McREL is also involved.

For application information, contact Adams at padams@fhsu.edu or Davies at daviesma@emporia.edu.

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