DRAFT
PROPOSAL
DEVELOPMENT OF A LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL
CHEMISTRY TEACHER SUPPORT GROUP

STATED NEED:

The San Fernando Valley lies north of the City of Los Angeles.  Within this contained geographic area there are 17 public senior high schools with an average student population of 3,500.  These schools are under the direct supervision of Local Districts A, B and C of the greater Los Angeles Unified School District.  Each of these schools have a minimum of 2-3 teachers providing instruction in chemistry, honors chemistry and advanced placement chemistry.  

                It has been well publicized that Los Angeles Unified School District has a large number of emergency credentialed teachers currently filling math and science teaching positions. The majority of those individuals credentialed to teach chemistry actually hold biology degrees with a chemistry minor or a physical science waiver.  While this satisfies the District requirements, few individuals teaching the courses are actual chemistry majors.  This information should in no way imply that these teachers are unprepared or unable to teach chemistry at an appropriate level.  They are, however, in serious need of a support system. 

               Traditionally, teachers have taught in relative isolation, with little time for collaboration.  Providing standards-based education, developing benchmark assignments, investigating and experimenting with alternative assessment, researching and giving direct application and providing hands-on experience to students of chemistry is no small task today.  Even with the newly allocated time for collaboration given to secondary schools it is generally limited to the school site or the Local District.  While this will greatly enhance interdisciplinary and cross content collaboration, it does not necessarily address the direct specialized needs of a chemistry teacher due to the very limited number of colleagues teaching the same content to a similar audience.   The ability to access information, collaborate and communicate with teachers outside individual facilities becomes increasingly necessary to allow for contact with a larger knowledge and experience base. 

                The addition of technology into the classroom provides new challenges in instruction as well as new opportunities for collaboration.  While some teachers view this as a new and creative way to present traditionally challenging abstract concepts to our students as well as to provide an open forum for professional  communication, others avoid it due to inexperience and inability to observe applications both in and out of the classroom.  Independently, teachers are constantly “reinventing the wheel.” Given the opportunity and the forum for chemistry teachers within a geographic area to interact both in person and via the internet would satisfy many of the needs of  both new and experienced teachers.    This would additionally allow them the needed direct contact and sharing of information with a strong ability to follow up and continue collaboration through the use of the internet.

                 On a broader level there is a need for opportunities for professional growth as described in the National Science Education Standards (NRS, 1996) which emphasize that "coherent and integrated programs" supporting "lifelong professional development" of science teachers are essential for significant reform.  "The conventional view of professional development for teachers needs to shift from technical training for specific skills to opportunities for intellectual professional growth."

                Furthermore, the Glenn Commission's Blueprint to Improve Math and Science Teaching in 21st Century report, entitled
Before It's Too Late describes a need for the establishment of local professional Inquiry groups (Goal 1:3) and states:   "We are of one mind in our belief that the way to interest children in mathematics and science is through teachrs who are not only enthusiastic about their subjects, but who are also steeped in their disciplines and who have the professional training--as teachers--to teach those subjects well.  Nor is this teacher training simple a matter of preparation; it depends just as much--or even more--on sustained, high-quality professional development."

PROPOSAL:   Formation of a “LOCAL CHEMISTRY TEACHER SUPPORT GROUP”

PURPOSE:     To provide immediate networking and best practice sharing between the chemistry instructors within the San Fernando Valley and adjacent areas to promote and encourage teacher driven professional staff developement. 

VISION STATEMENT: 

            The vision of this project is to provide an environment of easily accessed, teacher driven, staff development with a focus on the sharing of best practices and collaborative development of standards based teaching materials, benchmark assignments, laboratory experiments, demonstrations and assessment tools.   We also hope to collect and evaluate student performance data identifying areas of strengths and weaknesses.  This information as well as individual requests will be used in the planning of future meeting agendas, round-table discussions, workshop offerings, guest speakers and other forms of support specifically meeting the identified needs of our local area high school chemistry teachers ultimately raising the level of performance and success of our students.  Sponsorship and participation by a local institution of higher education will be of great value to the high school teachers both in team building, curricular support and collaboration as well as in professional growth.

            The proposed support group environment will also extend past the monthly meetings held at varying locations for sharing purposes to an interactive website and a high school chemistry teacher LISTSERV.  The prototype of the website currently under development may be viewed temporarily at:  http://www.jozie.net/JF/HS_Chem.  (As of 1/30/02 at http://www.csun.edu/chemteachThe website will allow individuals to join the existing database online which will generate both email and LAUSD approved school mail notifications of meetings and announcements.  At this site teachers can post their needs and concerns, share and trade equipment and technology, locate training and continuing education opportunities, view local job openings, past and future meeting agendas and scheduled events, download handouts from meetings, and access professional organizations online.    

            In support of the establishment of the internet accessible High School Chemistry Teacher LISTSERV, the most current research (August 30, 2001) shows that there does exist a limited selection of general secondary science LISTSERV’s available for participation.  These serve both middle and high school science teachers of all content areas.  Specific to chemistry instruction, the few existing LISTSERV’s support an exclusive group of AP and College and University Chemistry educators or are designed for temporary use in conjunction with specific course offerings.   While these are excellent and valuable resources they do not necessarily provide the appropriate forum to discuss the needs of the larger population of regular and honors level high school students nor do they generally inspire collaboration as the focus of instruction differs.  At this time there is no LISTSERV that addresses the needs of my group.  There is great advantage to the existence of a content and audience specific LISTSERV. It will enable a teacher to post a chemistry question and receive a chemistry answer from a variety of rich and creative sources, with the same focus and student audience as well as the same standards based goals and requirements, limitations and high expectations.  Establishment of this LISTSERV would be the single most useful and valuable resource for high school chemistry teachers. By design, it would provide instant access to support and collaboration yet completely eliminates any restrictions to time or location present in other forms of support.

DETAILS AND IDENTIFIED PARTICIPANTS OF THE PROJECT:

                This support group to be sponsored jointly by the California State University, Northridge Chemistry Department and the School of Education, in cooperation with Los Angeles Unified School District Local Districts A, B and C, the input and assistance by the Chemistry Departments of the following Los Angeles Community Colleges:  Los Angeles Mission College, Los Angeles Valley College and Los Angeles Pierce College.  Acknowledgement and resources may also be provided through the Southern California Section of the American Chemical Society and the California Association of Chemistry Teachers.  In addition, future funding for this project shall be sought from the National Science Teachers Association, the National Science Foundation and other funding sources currently under investigation.

           The support will take the form of but not limited to meetings, workshops, special presentations, lectures and lecture series, laboratories, and demonstrations presented by college and university faculty, high school teachers, guests and individuals from industry and business.  Support will also be provided through the donation of web space for the purpose of hosting the Support Group Website and a High School Chemistry LISTSERV.  Interactions will be directed toward standards-based education and the content and mode driven by the group themselves through suggestion and consensus. 

               Monthly meetings and gatherings will be held at varying locations throughout the San Fernando Valley such as District Offices, CSUN, Community Colleges, local high schools, etc. depending the appropriateness of the facilities for the activity and availability.  In addition, special presentations, workshops or lecture series not able to be scheduled around the monthly meeting dates will occur intermittently depending on the availability of the instructor, presenter and/or facility. 

PROCEDURE: 

1.        Develop of Databases:
       All high school chemistry instructors within the service area of the San Fernando Valley and adjacent areas.  (A school database has been established, but it is awaiting specific names and confirmation).
        
A voluntary database of subscriber email addresses for networking, collaboration, LISTSERV membership, meeting announcements and notifications to participants. 

2.        Develop a “Support Group” website for  publication and notification of all activities, resources, upcoming events and discussion board.   
(Please see the draft which awaits approval available at
http://www.jozie.net/JF/HS_Chem )(As of 1/30/02 at http://www.csun.edu/chemteach)

3.        Meet with the California State University, Northridge representatives to confirm and establish sponsorship: 

Robert Park, Ph.D., Associate Dean, College of Science and Mathematics
Sandor Reichman, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Chemistry
Sandra L. Jewett, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, Coordinator, Undergraduate Coop. Program
Henry Abrash, Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry
Norm Herr, Ph.D., Professor of Education, School of Education, Secondary Education
 

4.        Meet with the Los Angeles Unified School District, Local Districts A, B and C Superintendents to establish co-sponsorship and support:
District A:  Debbie Leidner     
(818) 256-2800
District B:  Judy Burton      
(818) 755-5300
District C:  Robert Collins      
(818) 654-3600 

5.        Meet with Chemistry Department Chairs of the local Los Angeles Community Colleges within the San Fernando Valley.
Los Angeles Mission College:    Maria Fenyes
Los Angeles Pierce College:     Izzy Goodman
Los Angeles Valley College:     Elizabeth Friedman 

6.        Establish contacts and establish participation by private business and private industry (Mini Med, Amgen, etc.)

7.        Establish a Board of Directors for the Support Group with representatives from all interested/concerned parties. 

SUPPORT NEEDED: 

Funding for Presenters of Workshops, Lectures, Demonstrations, etc.
  
   Honorariums and possible per diems, transportation, for out of area presenters

Funding or Donation of Meeting, Workshop and Laboratory:
        Sites
        Equipment for Meetings, Workshops, Laboratory Demonstrations, etc.
        Refreshments/Supplies for said Meetings/Workshops, etc.
        Duplication of Materials/Handouts to Participants

 Funding/Donation of Office/Computer Equipment and Supplies for Management of the Group 

Funding or Donation of Advertising/Snail Mail Expenses:  Possible  LAUSD school mail approval for classroom teacher notifications, and inclusion in Spotlight and other LAUSD publications.

Funding/Donation of Web space and hosting of the Support Group Website and LISTSERV

Website Expenses:            Design, software, web hosting, web management, and weekly updating and scanning services for inclusion of handouts and information for download.
LISTSERV Expenses:        Daily/weekly Management and supervision of LISTSERV