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Distance Learning for Teachers in Rural Washington

FOSS Newsletter Staff
March 12, 2007 | Professional Development

What's it like to be a teacher new to the FOSS curriculum and living in a remote and rural area of southwest Washington state? How do you obtain staff development? This conundrum was on the mind of Deborah Hale, Math and Science Kit Center (MASK/ESD 113) in Olympia, Washington. She sought to expand their center's outreach to teachers new to FOSS in their region. With a robust videoconferencing system already in place across the state of Washington, Hale looked for support from ESD 112 in Vancouver, Washington, who were already working with videoconferencing. Hale contacted Anne Kennedy, the director of ESD 112's Science and Math Education Resource Center (SMERC). Anne Kennedy has been instrumental in establishing training and support in ESD 112, as well as the establishment of a FOSS teacher leadership institute program. Anne was supportive of the ESD 113 proposal, helping to nurture the fledgling project by providing space and materials for trainings at SMERC.

Videoconference trainings have been offered nearly once a month for several grade levels and FOSS kits over the past two school years. Emily Hopple, an experienced FOSS consultant, conducts the sessions. These trainings have provided quality FOSS after­school staff development for districts that are well over 200 miles away. Teachers who might otherwise have to get in a car and drive several hours to a training session were now able to stay in their district for the workshops. Making enough training sessions available for the different grade levels and modules remains a challenge. However, it is a welcome challenge.

This was Emily's first experience with videoconference training. Videoconferencing coordinators at both ESDs, Carrie Sherman, ESD 113, and Laura Anderson, ESD 112, were helpful and patient as Emily learned to utilize the document camera while conducting her regular FOSS training. Emily quickly learned to make smooth transitions. Deborah Hale steps in during the sessions to facilitate the question­and­answer portions and round­robin discussions.

Continuing education hours are available for the Washington state teachers who participate. The experience has been rich and well received by teachers of FOSS in rural and remote areas such as Naselle, Lake Quinault, and Montesano, Washington.

Contact Information

Educational Service District 113

Educational Service District 112