COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education
April 15, 2011
TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction
The Virginia Department of Education, Office of Standards, Curriculum, and Instruction, is pleased to announce the 2011 Virginia Science Institutes for STEM Education (VSISE). The VSISE are the next generation of the Virginia Science Standards Institutes (VSSI) which have been conducted for the past 15 summers for fourth- and fifth-grade teachers. The Virginia Department of Education will conduct four VSISE this summer in collaboration with the Virginia Museum of Natural History and several other state agencies. These six-day summer learning experiences for fourth- and fifth-grade teachers are designed to support the implementation of the Science Standards of Learning and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. Two of the VSISE will provide a STEM focus through Life/Environmental science and two through Earth/Space science.
The four VSISE will model exemplary science instruction, especially focusing on STEM content and Standards of Learning alignment using cross-curricular instruction, student teams, and inquiry-based, project-based, and place-based learning. Teachers participating in a VSISE will work with a team to design a STEM unit during the week as they receive both STEM content and relevant pedagogy. They will then be able to use the instructional unit in their classrooms during the school year. In order to facilitate the new format for the VSISE, school divisions/schools are requested to send a team of two to three fourth-grade teachers or a team of two to three fifth-grade teachers to the institute. The schedule for the VSISE is as follows:
The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will assume the cost of registration, lodging, and meals for all participants of the institutes. School divisions are encouraged to cover travel expenses for division participants as this cost is not assumed by the VDOE; however, this is not a requirement of the program.
Two thirty-minute webinars are being offered to explain in more detail the goals and objectives of the VSISE and to answer any questions in reference to participation in an institute. We encourage participation of both interested teachers and their school/division administrators in one of the two webinars. To participate in one of the webinars, please send an e-mail to Barbara.Young@doe.virginia.gov to request an invitation. Please make sure your request includes your e-mail address and the date for the webinar you would like to attend.
Enrollment for each institute is limited to 25 teachers (100 total) from across the state. Participant selections will be based on several criteria. Applicants from schools accredited with warning in science will be given first priority for participation in the institutes. Selection criteria also include the order in which applications are received, a balance of participant teams from the eight superintendents’ regions, and a balance of participant teams from school divisions. Team applications will be given preference over individual teacher applications.
Participants of the VSISE will receive a one-year membership to the Virginia Association of Science Teachers (VAST) for 2011-2012, and will be encouraged to attend the annual VAST State Professional Development Institute, The New Face of Science Education, which will be held this year at the Hotel Roanoke, Roanoke, Virginia, on November 17-19, 2011.
The team application form is attached to this memorandum. Teacher/teacher team applications must be received at the Department of Education by 5 p.m. on May 19, 2011. Applications can be e-mailed, mailed, or faxed. Notifications of acceptance will be provided to applicants and the applicants’ school principals by e-mail on or before May 27, 2011.
Please e-mail, mail, or fax completed applications to:
Barbara Young, Science Specialist
Virginia Department of Education
James Monroe Building, Floor 24
P.O. Box 2120
Richmond, VA 23218-2120
Fax: (804) 786-1703
If you need additional information about the 2011 Virginia Science Institutes for STEM Education, please contact Barbara Young, science specialist, office of Standards, Curriculum, and Instruction, by e-mail at Barbara.Young@doe.virginia.gov, or by telephone at (804) 225-2676.