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Implementing FOSS

Staff Development
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    K-6 Case Studies
        Case Study 1
        Case Study 2
        Case Study 3
        Case Study 4
        Case Study 5
    Middle School Case Studies
        Case Study 6
        Case Study 7

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      Schools Using FOSS


  Frequently Asked Questions about the FOSS Program
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Info for Teachers and Parents

Elementary School: Case Study 1Case Study 2Case Study 3Case Study 4Case Study 5
Middle School: Case Study 6Case Study 7

FOSS Implementation Case Study 1

20 elementary schools
10,100 students K–6
351 regular teachers (375 with special education and other instruction personnel)
Case study written after 2 years of district-wide implementation

5-year plan


This district used a teacher committee to review and select a new science curriculum. One teacher from each of 20 elementary schools was on the Curriculum Support Committee (CSC). During the first year the CSC studied the State Science Framework and developed a scope and sequence for the district's new science curriculum. The CSC then identified three commercial programs that showed potential for satisfying the new district science guidelines.
In the fall of year 2 the committee grew to 28 teachers (four at each grade level). Each of the 28 CSC teachers became a pilot teacher. Each pilot teacher had the opportunity to use the FOSS program and at least one of the other programs. At the end of the fall semester the CSC unanimously selected FOSS as the new district curriculum.


The effectiveness of the implementation of the new program depended on all of the district teachers buying in. The responsibility for instilling this commitment rested with the pilot teachers. They became the team that presented the FOSS modules to the grade-level teachers at their schools during the in-service training. Their skill, knowledge, and enthusiasm made the difference. The original group of teachers on the CSC evolved into pilot teachers, and now they were being groomed to be staff developers. To prepare them for the new challenge the district provided professional development for the committee members.

A. Professional Development for Pilot Teachers

In winter of year 2, a FOSS consultant worked one day each month with the pilot teachers in preparation for the first district-wide in-service in May. During this time, each of the pilot teachers was teaching two FOSS modules in his or her classroom, gaining valuable experience. These two modules would be the first and second modules they would be responsible for presenting to the teachers at the spring and summer in-service meetings. When this preparation was complete, the pilot teachers made their final transformation to FOSSilators and received an official district FOSS lab coat as a token of their new status.

The management team was kept informed about the progress of the selection process for science. They also participated in the in-service sessions.

B. First Staff-Development Workshop

In May of year 2, the district conducted four full-day FOSS-staff development workshops. All of the FOSSilators attended each of the four workshops. The entire staff of every school in the district attended one of the four identical workshops. At each workshop the FOSS consultant introduced the general philosophy and background of the program and did a couple of introductory activities with the whole assembly. Then the group broke into grade-level sections, and the FOSSilators presented individual modules to the teachers who would be teaching it first thing next fall. Each teacher was provided with a copy of the master plan for the distribution of FOSS modules over the grades.

C. Second Staff-Development Workshop

In August of year 2, one afternoon of the district back-to-school meeting was devoted to the FOSS program. Again teachers were organized into grade-level groups, and FOSSilators introduced a second module to the teachers. When year 3 started, all of the teachers had been introduced to two modules. It was decided to postpone the introduction of the Life Science modules. The committee didn't want the live critters to scare off any of the teachers as they were just beginning to use the program.

The FOSSilators continued to work ahead by teaching new modules in their own classrooms.

D. Third Staff-Development Workshop

In November of year 3, all teachers received their third in-service. This time the in-service was site-based. A schedule was established where one grade level from a school would be in-serviced during the morning and a different grade level at the same site during the afternoon. Substitutes at the school just changed grade levels. Both Eisenhower and district funds were used to pay for the subs. It took three different days per school to complete this third in-service. This completed the staff development for grades 1 and 2, as there are only three FOSS modules assigned to each grade level.

E. Fourth Staff-Development Workshop

In May of year 3, a 2 hour in-service was held after school for the remaining grades to be in-serviced. Each school sent a grade-level representative to a centralized workshop to prep and inventory the new module and to get tips and tricks to make the module successful. Teachers were paid for the training with Eisenhower and district funds. It was then the responsibility of that person to work with the other teachers at the site to bring them up to speed with the last module.

The FOSSilators were paid for extra planning and prep time needed to present the in-service training. Eisenhower funds were used for this.

Teachers were asked to teach only two of the modules during the first year of implementation.

F. Sustaining Staff Development and Implementation

  1. The FOSSilators completed their metamorphosis and emerged as Science Resource Teachers at each school site. This has eroded to some degree due to movement of teachers over the last year, but in general it has worked quite well.
  2. There was staff in-service with the principals to help organize the science program at the schools. The location of the modules, the process of obtaining consumable replacement kits, and the ordering of replacement parts for lost items was included in the in-service.
  3. The district conducted an evaluation in the fall of year 4 to measure the success of the program to date. It also asked questions about the in-services.
  4. For some time the district has had a program called Academy Courses. These are courses conducted after school on many subjects. The district is in the process of developing a series of FOSS Academy Courses for new teachers or for others who have changed grade levels.


A. The Housing of Materials

Each school received one completed set of FOSS modules. They are kept at the individual sites. Each school is responsible for maintaining its own kits. Some schools have the luxury of a dedicated room where kits are stored and refurbished, but most store the kits in the classrooms. Enough Measurement Modules were purchased so that one measurement kit is shared by every two teachers for grades 3–6.

B. Materials Management

Management plans vary from school to school. At some schools the principals act as manager; some have a team of teachers; some have one person assigned school-wide; and some sites leave it up to the individual grade-level teams.

C. Inventory and Consumable Replacement

When the kits originally arrived at district receiving, a large plastic envelope was taped to the top of the kit, and copies of the inventory sheet and parts reorder form for the module were placed in the plastic envelope before the kit was delivered to school.

  1. The teachers were trained to take a kit inventory at the beginning and end of a module’s use. The teacher fills out both an inventory sheet and a reorder sheet as part of the summary inventory. These sheets are sent to the district warehouse where the individual refill kits are stored. the district elected to use the Delta refill kits rather than trying to set up a storehouse for the many varied items required. The district supports the program annually by budgeting funds ($12,000) to replace the consumable materials.
  2. A biological supply company in our area is willing to provide the living organisms for the FOSS Life Science modules. An open purchase order was established with them. A teacher calls the company to order items using the established P.O. number. UPS delivers the organisms to the school site. Appropriate timing of the organism delivery has been worked out between the teacher and the supply company. The district again supports this with budgeted funds ($8000).
  3. Permanent items that are lost or broken are an individual school responsibility. Each principal was asked to reserve $200–$300 of their budgets to cover these items. A special FOSS binder was prepared for each principal. The binder includes the Delta catalog for reordering items that fall into this category.

D. Checkout Rotation System

Not applicable for this program; coordinated at school site.

E. Safety

We have not had a safety concern to date. We do send out periodic newsletters to the teachers with FOSS information. We monitor the FOSS Newsletter carefully and share these items with the teachers. (For example, the problem with using rechargeable batteries was shared with the teachers using the Magnetism and Electricity Module.)


A. Community Awareness

From the very beginning of the selection of the FOSS program, the Board of Trustees and the District Advisory Committee (parent representatives from the individual schools) were kept informed about the development of the program. Sample activities were done with these groups to demonstrate the hands-on concept of the program. Individual school sites have had special FOSS science nights where the parents can circulate through the multipurpose room and see children working with different modules at various grade levels. Our district newsletter sent to the parents has featured the FOSS program, and our various grade-level guides given to parents at the beginning of the school year outline the activities featured by FOSS for each grade. The business community in our area has not been directly involved with the new curriculum.

B. Financial Support

We have not worked with the business community to obtain support for the FOSS program. Most of our district's efforts for support from these groups have been linked directly with the improvement of the technology program. Some schools have purchased additional kits for specific grade levels.



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