Implementation of a materials-based program like FOSS requires
a thoughtful staff development plan. The involvement of the classroom
teachers in the early stages of program selection and implementation
planning is a strategy used by all of the case-study schools and
Once the FOSS curriculum has been selected for a pilot, a group
of elementary teachers (the science leadership team representing
all schools and all grades) is often selected to receive initial
training. Following a successful pilot-testing phase conducted
by these teachers (usually 6 months to a year in duration), they
become the core group of teachers (site science facilitators)
responsible for implementing the FOSS adoption at their own schools.
The implementation process, ranging from one to three school
calendar years, uses district staff development funds to conduct
module and course orientation sessions for teachers. For elementary
teachers, these half-day sessions are typically set up to focus
on one strand (e.g. Physical Science) per semester. Teachers from
one grade level are prepared to use the module they will be teaching
in their classrooms. That way, teachers have an opportunity to
work with the materials along with their peers prior to classroom
use with their students. For middle school teachers, the introduction
to the course may last 1 or 2 days.
Most of the elementary case-study districts implemented the Physical
and Earth Sciences strands during the first year, followed by
the Life Science strand during the second or third year of implementation.
This phase-in strategy allows teachers to develop a comfort level
with one module at a time. The teachers are not overwhelmed by
too much to learn all at once. This ensures a higher level of
usage of the materials by neophyte teachers.
For more specific information on staff development strategies,
go to Considerations section.