[Currents headergraphic]

July 5, 1999

UCSC outreach efforts continue during the summer

By Jennifer McNulty

It may be summer, but there's no rest for the hundreds of teachers who are taking advantage of unique professional development opportunities offered by UCSC.

Two high-profile programs got under way recently. In conjunction with the UCSC/Monterey Bay region office of the California Reading and Literacy Project (CRLP), Kresge College is hosting four one-week training institutes for K-3 teachers in the tri-county area. More than 400 teachers will participate in the literacy institutes, which are being offered as part of Gov. Gray Davis's Elementary Reading Initiative. Davis has made improving student reading skills a priority of his administration. As part of his Governor's Elementary Initiative, Davis provided $12 million statewide to support teacher development in the area of reading instruction.

The UCSC/Monterey Bay site of the CRLP has offered summer training institutes for the past two years and was poised to expand its efforts this summer with the additional state funds. This year's institutes are focusing on new teachers, who are attending in teams of about 10 representatives from schools throughout the region. Approximately 40 schools are participating. Each school team will be made up mostly of new teachers, as well as administrators and veteran teachers.

The institutes offer teachers proven instructional strategies and assessments that will help them teach reading and evaluate the progress of their students. Faced with new statewide standards in language arts, teachers are looking for ways to help their students reach benchmark goals, said Marlin Adams, regional director of the UCSC CRLP.

"Our curriculum content is completely aligned with the new standards. Experienced classroom teachers will demonstrate how they have translated theory and research into practice in their classrooms," she said. Statewide presenters who bring expertise in the field of literacy will also be offering daily keynote sessions.

The summer institutes will be followed by 80 hours of additional training during the school year. The cost for sending a team of 10 is $1,000 per school. Teachers who complete the 120-hour course and submit student assessment data as part of a statewide CRLP research project will receive university credit and a $1,000 stipend.

[Photo of hands-on science workshop for teachers in the LASERS program]
Life Lab executive director Robbie Jaffe, second from left, oversees a hands-on workshop for teachers in the LASERS program.
Photo: Jennifer McNulty

Also this summer, the successful bilingual summer school program offered through the Language Acquisition in Science Education in Rural Schools, or LASERS, project continues at Los Padres Elementary School in Salinas.

Research by UCSC's Trish Stoddart, associate professor of education, reveals that the four-week academy gives students a significant boost in their language and science learning.

Now in its fourth year, the summer school uses a garden-based science curriculum to help students learn English. LASERS is a collaboration among the Education Department at UCSC, seven school districts in central California, and the Life Lab Science Program. The goal is to develop a model of science education that reaches students from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

The program's success in fostering student learning and the professional development of participating teachers has prompted two districts to offer their own summer school programs this year. In addition, Fresno Unified School District, the fourth-largest district in the state, has incorporated elements of the LASERS model into their own program.

Stoddart has found that more than 40 percent of students who participated in the academy last year showed a two-month boost in their language ability after four weeks of summer school. For teachers, the session offers specialized professional development opportunities; mornings are spent in the classroom, and afternoons are spent with mentor teachers who encourage participating teachers to develop and test new skills.

LASERS is a five-year effort funded by the National Science Foundation to improve science education for K­6 bilingual students.

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