FHSU receives grant money for instruction workshops this summer

Teachers across the state of Kansas benefited from four workshops at Fort Hays State University this summer, offered through the university's Science and Mathematics Education Institute (SMEI).

In one, FHSU collaborated with Emporia State University and used a $167,000 Improving Teacher Quality Partnership Grant from the Kansas Board of Regents to offer the first year of a three-year project called a Modeling Instruction Institute, a three-week workshop for high school physical science teachers.

"We feel very fortunate to have been selected to receive a grant from the Kansas Board of Regents," said Dr. Paul Adams, SMEI director, FHSU's Anschutz Professor of Education and a professor of physics.

"The modeling institute focuses on improving instructional pedagogy and instruction through technology, deepening students' content understanding in physics and chemistry and enhancing the science curriculum in school districts across western Kansas," he said.

Physics sessions at FHSU ran concurrently with chemistry sessions at Emporia. Each school focused on its designated subject to improve high school instructional strategies, inquiry methods and critical and creative thinking. Participants interacted with other high school instructors and learned effective strategies from veteran educators throughout the workshop, said Adams.

"Thanks to the funds we received from KBOR, SMEI is able to provide participants with a daily stipend, free housing, free parking, funds to attend the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science Kamp in 2010, a scholarship towards three hours of graduate credit and additional support throughout the academic year," said Adams. "Our continued collaboration with the Kansas Board of Regents has made this opportunity possible for high school physical science instructors and will provide our school districts with a quality science curriculum."

The Modeling Instruction Institute began July 6 and concluded July 23.

FHSU's Math and Science Institute also partnered with Emporia State University in Unpacking Science, a three-year project funded by the Kansas Board of Regents.

Unpacking Science aims to improve the pedagogical knowledge of 30 middle school science teachers across the state of Kansas. These teachers received stipends for participation and resources for continued classroom use as well as improved science instruction methods and strategies. "Unpacking Science will help to increase our teachers' pedagogical knowledge, student achievement and professional development," said Adams.

The project focuses on implementing high-quality coursework with specific English language learning instructional approaches. "Based on a 2005 report from the Kansas Department of Education, nearly 90 percent of English language learners do not reach proficiency levels in science and almost 75 percent do not reach standard math levels," said Adams. "Unpacking Science is designed to address these serious issues."

Another workshop was also funded by a Regents grant. The second year of a three-year, No Child Left Behind project called "Energizing Middle School Science and Social Studies through a Problem-Based Learning Energy Curriculum" was funded with $149,944.

The alternative energy workshop focused on integrating science and social studies in the classroom. Participating teachers received activity materials, collaborated with professionals and other educators, and learned effective pedagogical strategies.

"By interacting with other middle school instructors and becoming familiar with a new energy curriculum that integrates both science and social studies, we hope to enhance the teaching skills of Kansas middle school instructors," said Adams. "The long-term end result will be an increase in effective teachers and a better and brighter future for our students."

The workshop began on the campus of FHSU, but participants will continue work at home. Teachers will receive three credit hours for completing the workshop and an additional three credit hours for completing the home-based online course during the academic year. Along with college credit, participants will also receive a stipend.

"The workshop is a component of the SMEI at FHSU," said Adams. "The institute aims to improve science and math education and science literacy for the western Kansas community."

Energizing Middle School Science and Social Studies Workshop were held on campus, July 6 to 9 and July 13 to 16 and home based, July 20 to 23.

Another workshop, in June, focused on kindergarten through 12th-grade instructors. The workshop called "We Go To The Moon" was funded with a $30,000 grant from the National Space Grant Foundation. This workshop was aimed at providing western Kansas instructors of math and science with continuing education experience.

For more information about the Science and Mathematics Education Institute and about other programs it offers, visit http://www.fhsu.edu/scimathcenter.

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Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu