MAILED: March 28, 2001
The Eisenhower Professional Development Program, a competitive grant program for improving the teaching of mathematics, science and other core subjects at the K-12 level, awarded two University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire faculty members a $40,090 grant to develop and implement a three-week workshop.
The University of Wisconsin System administered the EPDP grant to Dr. J. Erik Hendrickson, associate professor of physics and astronomy, and Dr. Robert Eierman, professor of chemistry, for their program, Physical and Earth Science Teaching Opportunity.
PESTO, a federally funded summer program, is designed to help middle and high school teachers develop new teaching methods and materials in areas of their own choice. Teachers work with UW-Eau Claire science and education faculty members discussing teaching models and ideas and developing a set of new teaching materials to use in the classroom the following year.
The teachers also receive two graduate credits from the university and a $150 stipend. Following implementation of the curriculum and a submission of a written report, each teacher receives an additional graduate credit.
While this is PESTOs second year, the university has done similar programs in past years. Were continuing a tradition of trying to help improve education other than at the college level, Eierman said. Were doing this as part of an outreach to the community and as a scholarly activity.
Most of the teachers who come into the program have been teaching for a while and need new ideas. Teachers come in and reflect a little bit on what theyre teaching in their classes, Eierman said. They pick out a chunk of the curriculum that they want to improve. We dont tell them what to do. This is a self-designed thing.
Although the teachers are encouraged to meet with the programs faculty members every day of the program, it is not required. This helps those who are not from the area, who have conferences to attend or who have projects that are too big to bring in.
The first three days the teachers have to be here, Hendrickson said. The rest of the time its open. Were on an honor system. We also have progress report days to have them check in.
Teachers also have to keep a time log and put in 45 hours during those three weeks.
In addition to hands-on help from UW-Eau Claire faculty, teachers may take tours and use on-campus labs where they can work with technology to which they did not have access before.
Hendrickson and Eierman say the strength of this program is that they have contacts with faculty members in several different departments. A question comes up and somebody has the answer to it or can find somebody who has, Eierman said. There is a nice balanced group of people, and I think the teachers appreciate that.
Other faculty members involved are Dr. Karen Havholm, associate professor of geology, and Dr. Robert Hollon, associate professor of curriculum and instruction.
After the teachers complete their projects, they present them to the group. These projects then can be used in the classroom throughout the following school year. The participants school provides $300 for the purchase of equipment and supplies during the school year.
The objective by the end of the program is that middle and high school teachers will develop and implement effective science curriculum with project support, have a deeper understanding of national, state and district science standards, and create a network of secondary school and university colleagues.
This is a tremendously successful thing, Eierman said. Many say its by far the best workshop theyve ever done. They feel like finally theyre being treated like professionals.
Janice B. Wisner
UW-Eau Claire News Bureau
Updated: March 28, 2001