OSS Curriculum Successfully Piloted in Boston Public Schools - 08.05.2011
COSEE OCEAN just finished the first pilot of the Ocean Science Sequence (OSS) curriculum, in partnership with the Boston Public School (BPS) District. Developed by the Great Explorations In Math and Science (GEMS) group at the Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS), the OSS curriculum consists of three sequential units including: Unit 1-What Kind Of Place Is The Ocean?; Unit 2-What Is Life Like In The Ocean?; and Unit 3-How Are Humans And The Ocean Interconnected?
Seven highly gifted BPS teachers, working primarily in grade 5, received teacher training in early spring, and implemented the curriculum up through the end of June. Teachers were asked to comment on the time and pacing of the lessons; materials used to teach the lessons; students’ reactions to the lessons and materials; connections to the standards; and any other relevant general comments.
Through the feedback teachers provided on the pacing and timing of the units, the general consensus was that the time allotted for lesson plans is a little less than what actually is needed to complete many of the lessons as they are described in the teacher’s guide. Specifically one teacher noted, “I am finding the discussions are taking a little more time than the estimated time given.” It was also noted that science specialists, having less flexibility of time, had to sometimes split a lesson over two days, whereas classroom teachers, having more flexibility in their schedules, were able to complete lessons in one day; but in many cases they also needed additional time.
When reviewing teacher feedback of the materials used in the kits, opinions varied depending on the lesson. Some cited difficulties quickly locating materials; however many felt that the materials enhanced students’ abilities to grasp concepts.
Teachers reported that student feedback has been fairly positive around the use of the instructional materials.
As we think of our next steps in the possible adoption of the OSS curriculum, we plan to take a closer look at all of the feedback collected from teachers in this initial pilot. Our review should help determine to what extent the OSS materials can serve the needs of students in the Boston Public Schools, how the materials align with the standards, and how they can potentially enhance or replace some of what is being taught in the scope and sequence of science in the Boston Public Schools. After completion of this evaluation the Boston Public Schools Science Department will be determining if and how to expand the pilot into the 2011-2012 school year. The Boston Public Schools can be characterized as a large urban school district with ~80% underrepresented minorities and ~90% receiving free or reduced lunch. In this way, COSEE OCEAN is strongly addressing the need to broaden participation in ocean science education.
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