The WCAX video shows Kate Gagne’s Grade 5/6 students working in their Maker Space Classroom at Monkton Central School. Gagner says the kids are learning about things like motion, forces, and making circuits with an approach that makes learning accessible.
Funds from the MSP are currently being used to support high
quality professional development programs in Vermont.
There are two categories of applications for the 2015-2016 MSP grant competition. The project that is awarded the Leadership Grant will focus on the development of a cadre of highly competent science teacher leaders who can support the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards. One grant for up to $300,000 will be awarded to a partnership that includes educators from high-need schools and higher education STEM faculty.
The Innovation Grant Application provides an opportunity for projects to explore innovative STEM practices. Up to three projects will be funded for a maximum of $50,000.
Letters of intent are due by January 15, 2015. For more information, contact Pat Fitzsimmons, MSP Coordinator, at (802) 479-1425 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Extending the Vermont Mathematics Initiative to the High
Project Director: Judi Laird
The Vermont Mathematics Initiative (VMI) is a program that
over the past fifteen years has trained a cadre of 400 K-8
teacher leaders which stretches across all of Vermont.
Evaluation studies have indicated that the VMI has been
highly successful in increasing the mathematics knowledge of
K-8 teachers and raising student achievement, especially for
students from low-income families. Unfortunately, student
achievement at the high school level has been lagging behind.
This proposal, therefore, continues the program begun in
2013-14 (Year 1 of this grant) to extend the VMI from its K-8
focus to the high school level.
The work in 2013-14, which included developing and piloting
mathematics content course materials and convening focus
groups to aid in guiding the extension to high school, has
laid the groundwork for the further implementation. The
current proposal, therefore, will continue this work by
aligning all aspects of the VMI graduate degree program to
the high school level, and further developing materials
appropriate for high school teachers. Part-ners on the
proposal are the UVM Department of Mathematics and
Statistics, the Vermont Mathematics Initiative, the Orange
East Supervisory Union (OESU) and in particular the Oxbow
High School. The project will continue to be informed by a
focus group consisting of VMI graduates who are high school
teachers and VMI faculty. Members of the UVM Department of
Mathematics and Statistics will assist in course development
and be avail-able in an advisory capacity. There will also be
continued collaboration on applications that arise from a
business and industry perspective.
The VMI Master’s program encompasses four goals: (1)
increased content understanding; (2) improved teaching
effectiveness; (3) development of teacher leader skills; and,
(4) action research that informs practice. The project will
work toward full integration of the high school curriculum
into the existing VMI program, including all four of these
focal areas and an emphasis on formative assessment
practices. In general, the project will foster interaction
and collaboration among K-12 teachers while providing
appropriate grade span experiences. The content of the first
four courses in the VMI Master’s Degree curriculum will be
augmented and adjusted for high school teachers. Much of the
mathematics content will come from materials developed by Dr.
Kenneth I. Gross during Year 1 of this grant, and additional
material will be developed as needed. Susan Ojala will
oversee the expansion of VMI to the high school level.
As a complementary aspect of this proposal, VMI will continue
to partner with interested school districts, Educational
Service Agencies (ESA’s), and the Professional Learning
Net-work (PLN) to deliver content focused VMI professional
development (known informally as “Phase II”) regionally. The
six-credit, Phase II experience includes VMI’s signature
course, Mathematics as a Second Language as well as the
second course in the Master’s Degree sequence, Functions and
The Southwest Vermont Science Partnership Enhancement Program
Project Director: Maureen Maidrand
This third year of the Next Generation Science Leadership
Program will continue the work of establishing networks of
highly skilled teacher leaders in science with the aim of
improving student science achievement in Vermont. In order to
enhance science and engineering pedagogical content knowledge
and teacher leadership in high needs schools, the program
will include the following four components:
The NEXT GENERATION LEADERSHIP FOR SYSTEMIC SCIENCE EDUCATION
REFORM INSTITUTE is a two week 6 credit institute that will
continue to enhance the systemic nature of the science reform
work being done in Vermont. The Institute will consist of two
distinct yet closely related courses: Year 1 Next Generation
Science Leadership and Next Generation Science: Cross Cutting
Concepts. During the leadership course, participating
teachers will work in their schools to develop
science-learning communities, which will advocate for science
reform and improved student learning. The content course will
highlight cross cutting concepts in life, physical and earth
sciences. Institute participation will begin in the summer
and continue throughout the academic year using an on-line
and face-to-face model in order to provide a high level of
continuous support for science leadership and the Next
Generation Science Standards Cross Cutting Concepts classroom
applications. The institute courses will be designed around
the Standards for Professional Learning from Leaning Forward
2011 and the National Science teachers Association Position
on Leadership in Science Education.
Additional teachers will be included in the next Generation
Science Cross Cutting Concepts course to increase the number
of teachers having access to this opportunity.
In addition, there will be the opportunity for teachers who
participated in the current Year 1 Leadership to continue
their work for another year. Year 2 Next Generation Science
Leadership participants will develop an NGS unit of study and
introduce the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) to
their whole school using their unit of study as an exemplar
of the intentions of the NGSS. These units will be added to
the 2013-2014 Year 2 collection and made available online to
teachers throughout the state.
In addition to these opportunities the grant will continue
the work with the Norwich University Engineering Program to
offer the third year of the STEM Engineering course to an
additional 15 K-12 teachers. The program will be delivered in
partnership with Castleton State College, Bennington College,
Green Mountain College and Norwich University.
VSI Science and Engineering Academy
Project Director: Alan
Since 2012 the Vermont Science Initiative (VSI) has developed
a teacher-training model designed to address teachers’
understanding of and abilities in science, technology,
engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in a deep and
transformative way. Starting with the VSI Science and
Engineering Institute and the VSI Science Academy, both in
2012, and continuing with the VSI Science and Engineering
Academy in 2013, we have sought to (1) deliver rigorous STEM
content, (2) overtly model best practices in science
education, and (3) train, support and encourage participants
through the transition from adult learners to science
teachers. Through evaluation and reflection we have built a
professional development (PD) program (VSI Science and
Engineering Academy 2014) that leverages the best of what we
have done in the past while maximizing efficiency by trimming
or modifying practices based on feedback and evaluation
results. The content of our 2014 PD program will focus on
forms of energy, energy transformations, and human capture,
storage and use of energy. While we endeavor to change the
content focus each year, the following themes and elements
will be retained from year to year:
- An intensive, residential, summer session with several
fall/winter follow-up sessions and mandatory PLC meetings.
- Integration of the four STEM components into an
interconnected, iterative whole.
- Rigorous content-knowledge instruction delivered by
full-time science and engineering professors.
- Rigorous pedagogy instruction delivered by a team of
experienced science-education experts.
- Team teaching. Science, engineering and education faculty
will work together to build a system of mutually supportive
lectures, independent learning tasks, hands-on activities,
science and engineering problem-solving challenges, and
- Modeling best practices in science education.
Participants will first experience instructional practices as
students (adult learners), and then they will have the
opportunity to analyze those practices with the guidance of
our instructional team. They will work with the support of
their fellow students and the VSI instructional team to
translate their learning into grade-appropriate units and
- Active facilitation of professional learning communities
(PLCs). Upon completion of the intensive, summer residential
portion of the program, VSI experts will visit each school to
aid teachers in developing a supportive community for ongoing
learning and refinement of their practice. PLCs will focus on
developing explanations based on evidence and on making
- Alignment with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
The VSI is a state leader in NGSS instruction and our PD
programs are designed to demonstrate NGSS-aligned pedagogy.
- Exposure to and use of online resources. PD programs
orient participants to web-based materials providing them
with a resource base they can tap into for the duration of
- Building partnerships. Past and present partners include
Vermont schools, districts and supervisory unions, the
National Science Teacher’s Association (NSTA), the Boston
Museum of Science, Norwich University, Lyndon State College.
- Sharing with the greater Vermont science education
community. Resources developed by participants in VSI PD are
posted to VE2 website, and VSI personnel attend or
participate in local, regional and national meetings.
- Evaluation and reflection on our own practice. We will
continue to work with PEER Associates to evaluate and improve
In addition to the above, the VSI is willing and eager to
continue working with Sara Michaels and her colleagues on the
Next Gen Science Exemplar System (NGSX). The VSI will be one
of a small number of groups participating in the development
of a facilitator pathway for NGSX implementation. The details
of this work are yet to be defined and based on the scope of
work involved may require additional funding support.
Pat Fitzsimmons, Common Core/Math & Science Partnership Coordinator, at email@example.com or (802) 479-1425