Hurricane Katrina left many science and math teachers in the Gulf Coast region without labs, computers, textbooks, or even classrooms. In areas that accepted students who had been evacuated, many teachers don't have enough resources for everyone in their unexpectedly swollen classes.
To help displaced K-12 teachers, and teachers with displaced students, be more effective under their trying circumstances, the National Science Digital Library and Digital Library for Earth System Education—both part of the UCAR Office of Programs—are offering them free online professional development workshops. The workshops, which will be held in early December, will introduce the teachers to materials in the two digital libraries that are most appropriate for their situation.
"We're going to be focusing on inquiry-based science you can do with paper and pencil," says Russanne Low, director of strategic partnerships for the DLESE Program Center. The digital libraries include, for example, materials for group learning in which students solve problems together and reason from one answer to the next. The workshops will show teachers how to find such resources and use them in the class. Teachers who are already using NSDL and DLESE resources will help facilitate the workshop and describe their own classroom experiences with the digital libraries.
DLESE and NSDL staff chose this form of help as a result of a long-term partnership between the Louisiana Science Teachers Association, chaired by Jean May-Brett, and DLESE. When the scope of the hurricane damage became evident, Mary Marlino, director of the DLESE Program Center, called May-Brett to ask how UCAR could help. May-Brett suggested the workshops. Susan Van Gundy of NSDL, who had been planning online workshops for that library, will lead the NSDL side of the December sessions. To find the affected teachers, the UOP programs have posted notices on Web sites especially for that group, including one set up by Congress and another by the National Science Teachers Association.
|The NSDL/DLESE workshops for hurricane-affected teachers will be held on 6 and 8 December from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time on both days. They are free of charge, but space is limited. To register or for more information, contact Susan Van Gundy at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-497-2946.
The two digital libraries differ in scope but overlap in purpose. DLESE includes peer-reviewed materials for learners and educators in the Earth system sciences; the collection may be searched by national standards, grade level, and other criteria. The NSDL collection is broader, with materials in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Resources in both collections come from established and respected sources, including universities, museums, commercial publishers, government agencies, and professional societies. Both libraries are funded by NSF.
Low says that the conditions the Gulf Coast teachers are struggling with temporarily are a permanent way of life for educators in many parts of the world. Online workshops could be just as beneficial for those educators. "If there is interest, we would really like to continue this," she says. "The resources are there, and they're free of charge. We can't give teachers microscopes and school buses and other things they need, but this is something we can do.