DEVELOPMENT OF A LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL
CHEMISTRY TEACHER SUPPORT GROUP
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
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."
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.
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
(As of 1/30/02 at http://www.csun.edu/chemteach)
The 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.
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
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.
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.
“Support Group” website for publication
and notification of all activities, resources, upcoming events and discussion
(Please see the draft which awaits approval available at )(As of 1/30/02 at http://www.csun.edu/chemteach)
the California State University, Northridge representatives to confirm and
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
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
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
contacts and establish participation by private business and private industry
(Mini Med, Amgen, etc.)
a Board of Directors for the Support Group with representatives from all
Funding for Presenters of Workshops, Lectures,
Honorariums and possible per diems, transportation, for out of area presenters
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
Funding/Donation of Web space and hosting of the Support Group Website and LISTSERV
Design, software, web hosting, web management, and
weekly updating and scanning services for inclusion of handouts and information
LISTSERV Expenses: Daily/weekly Management and supervision of LISTSERV