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NSF Grant Fuels Student-Teaching for the Seasoned Teacher

The National Science Foundation is putting $2.6 million behind a professional-development program that helps K-6 instructors practice new teaching techniques for the physical sciences.

Researchers at the University of Missouri will receive the grant to study its Quality Elementary Science Teaching, or QuEST, program.

One of the major challenges in the PD world is that teachers are often given new tools and techniques at workshops, but aren't able to try them out in structured, safe environments. That's part of the reason why many of the newest developments in the field focus on the follow-through: coaches that come to observe teachers try out new techniques, the videotaping of lessons that can be critiqued later, and even headsets that allow an observer to communicate with a teacher while she's on her feet beginning a new lesson for the first time.

QuEST handles this quandary by coupling the training with a weeklong summer science camp for students, which doubles as a lab for the teachers. It's a bit like student-teaching for the already-seasoned teacher.

As I've reported before, the body of research on how teachers develop their craft is pretty limited, so we'll look forward to seeing the results.

Created by two University of Missouri professors, QuEST began in 2009.

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