The Galveston Bay Project is a year-long professional development program for 3rd through 8th grade teachers combining interdisciplinary science and computer technology instruction for elementary and middle school teachers in HISD, the fifth largest urban school district in the U.S. Participants are recruited from all elementary and middle schools in HISD and are selected based on a criteria designed to select highly motivated, innovative, computer-literate teachers who demonstrate a desire to increase their science content knowledge and improve their instructional skills in science. The design of this project is based on current literature concerning professional development and educational reform, particularly drawing from the National Science Education Standards. The design mandates demonstrated campus level administrative, and teachers participate as teams, rather than individually, from single schools. Involving teachers from both elementary and secondary levels in the same program offers the advantage of increasing communication and understanding among groups of teachers from different grade levels.
The three primary goals of the project are to:
The main goal for the academic year follow-up is to develop a collaborative learning community to foster professional growth among the participants throughout the school year. Further, it is expected that Project Teachers will use what they have learned as they teach science at their home campuses and that they will share this new knowledge with their colleagues as appropriate. Participation in the full year of activities is required.
Project Design and Content
Teachers participate in inquiry-based explorations and are actively engaged as learners to assimilate new content knowledge and examine pedagogical practices. Rice faculty from the Departments of Geology and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology participate as guest lecturers as appropriate. The syllabus also includes substantial instruction in computer technology as it relates to the science classroom. Teachers are given time to incorporate new content information into classroom curriculum and are provided with the funds to purchase materials that will meet their students' needs. By focusing on the biological issues concerning the Galveston Bay area, teachers are able to take advantage of studentsí natural curiosity of the world around them and also to take advantage of the many free and low-cost community resources. All of these components work together to create conditions that increase the level of classroom and campus implementation.
The science content focuses on interdisciplinary aspects of issues relating to the Galveston Bay watershed. To achieve this goal, laboratory studies are led by and Rice University faculty and staff, Galveston Bay Foundation staff, and local master teachers give presentations. The focus is on how to assess the quality of fresh and salt water and on examining the flora and fauna of both the fresh water bayous of the Houston area and the estuarine condition of Galveston Bay. Field studies are conducted to investigate and characterize both fresh and salt water ecosystems.
Technology instruction is provided daily for a total of approximately 30 hours during the summer. Topics covered in the technology classes include electronic mail, overview and history of the Internet, ftp, the World Wide Web, Internet searches, file formats, translating between different platforms, spreadsheets. Although the status and availability of computer technology and Internet access vary greatly between the campuses, the emphasis of this training is on how to use this technology in the classroom or how to use this knowledge to assist in preparation for the classroom instruction. Almost all teachers have access to computers either at home or on their school campus.
Teachers are personally rewarded by receiving graduate (3 hours in the Department of Education) for the summer component and continuing education credit for their participation during the academic year. The Texas Environmental Education Advisory Committee (TEEAC) has recognized Rice Universityís Galveston Bay Project as an established professional development site.
Teachers receive the following materials during the summer institute: Beachcomberís Guide to Gulf Coast Marine Life, WET Instruction Handbook, A Guide to Freshwater Ecology, The Gulf of Mexico: A Special Place to Live, Science of Galveston Bay, Galveston Bay Foundation Curriculum, Save Our Seas Curriculum, Living in Water Curriculum, and one-year subscription to Classroom Connect. Laboratory supplies such as La Motteís Pond Water Tour, a lab curriculum complete with all materials required to perform a class water-testing experiment are also provided. Teachers are also given access to a spending account to use to order materials such as other written resources, collecting nets, additional water testing kits, microscopes, etc. that will allow them to return to their home school and facilitate hands-on activities. Project staff facilitate the teachersí acquiring a Houston Educatorís Resource Network (HERN) Internet account free of charge. Teachers also receive a one-year membership to the National Science Teachers Association that includes a subscription to a science education journal. Participants enjoy borrowing privileges for the Rice University Science Lending Facility and subsidies for attendance and presentations at professional conferences. A matching funds program is also open for participant teachers; Rice University will match up to $200 of campus funds to support student science projects.
Academic Year Follow-Up
During the academic year, project staff and participants meet a minimum of six times during the school year or three school days and three Saturdays. Principals at participating schools provide a substitute for the week-day sessions. These sessions provide additional education in science concepts, field experiences, pedagogy, and technology training. Teachers continue to receive instructional materials throughout the school year. During these sessions, participants also share how they have been using the summer component to enhance science instruction with their students. To receive continuing education credit, participants assemble and submit a portfolio demonstrating how they have used The Galveston Bay Project in your classroom instruction.
Due to the overwhelming interest in seeking outside funding for campus-level projects, an optional grant-writing Workshop is offered in October. All teachers and administrators from participant schools are invited to attend. This workshop covers the basic components of a grant proposal and offers tips for successfully applying for grant funds. References for locating potential funding sources are also provided.
In the last three years, Rice University has been able to create a network of over 60 elementary and middle school teachers who have participated in the Galveston Bay Project. To date, teachers from 28 elementary and middle schools have participated from all twelve management districts in HISD. Teachers who participate in this kind of long-term training also enjoy a level of collegiality with teachers from different schools that is not often present otherwise. They join professional organizations such as the National Science Teachersí Association and participate in professional conferences as a result of subsidies available through the HHMI funding, thus increasing the level of professionalism among these teachers. A number of participant teachers have been promoted to leadership roles at their campuses and in the district as a result of training that they have received through HHMI-supported activities.
The student population served by participant teachers is highly diverse, ranging from schools with approximately 450 to 1,100 students. At these campuses, up to 92% of the students are at or below the poverty line, up to 73% are at-risk, and up to 56% of the students have limited English proficiency. The ethnicities of the student populations of these schools are representative of the diversity of the district as a whole which is made up of 50% Hispanic, 36% African-American, 12% White, and 3% Asian students. Some of the schools represented have student populations that are virtually all minorities; while others have student populations that are multi-ethnically balanced.
Applications for the summer 2001 session.
This page was last updated 11/08/99.
Questions and comments concerning this page may be directed to Marty Daniel.