‘Investing in Innovation’ Grant Paying Off for HISD Science Teachers

Strategies learned through LASER i3 study helping teachers deliver lessons more effectively

May 30, 2012

HISD science teachers are getting better at delivering instruction to their students this year, thanks to a five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education, and a partnership with Shell Oil.

The National Science Resources Center of the Smithsonian Institution (NSRC) is using the grant, dubbed Investing in Innovation (i3), to conduct a Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER) research study at schools in Houston, New Mexico, and North Carolina.

This month marked the completion of the first year of the study in Houston, and anecdotal evidence suggests that HISD teachers are already noticing a difference in their ability to get students excited about learning science concepts.

“I am seeing more meaningful science activities within the classrooms,” said Milne Elementary School Principal Marilene Shane, “and teachers are stepping back and being facilitators, while students are the ones articulating the content more in every classroom. This…will impact science instruction for years to come.”

“The use of LASER i3 kits has helped teachers who were ‘developing’ in their science instruction to improve to an ‘effective’ level, according to our new teacher appraisal system,” added Kelso Elementary School Principal Joseph Williams. “Teachers have improved greatly in the areas of differentiated instruction and student engagement in work that develops higher-level thinking skills.”

A celebration was held on May 2 to give representatives from the Curriculum and Assessment Department, as well as School Improvement Officers and principals from the 52 participating elementary and middle schools, an opportunity to meet the grant director, Acting NSRC Executive Director Tom Emrick.

Additional professional development opportunities will be offered over the summer break to approximately 500 teachers in participating schools.

Investing in Innovation is generously sponsored in HISD by Shell Oil, which provides matching funds to support the program.