Phase III

PHASE III (2012 – 2013)

Phase III aims to 1) bring the CONNECT-ED approach to science/math to more teachers, and 2) support the continuing work of existing district-based CONNECT-ED Professional Learning Communities (PLCs).


East Windsor Regional Schools CONNECT-ED Leadership Team

CON-QUEST Summer Institute

CONNECT-ED PLC teachers make concept connections

Reaching More Teachers
In Phase III, CONNECT-ED will identify new partner districts to invite into the Consortium.  To introduce them to the CONNECT-ED professional development model, teachers and science/math curriculum supervisors from area districts will be invited to participate in a two-day program, “Science Practices, Inquiry and Big Ideas Learning.”  Once they have been introduced to the CONNECT-ED approach through the workshop, those districts interested in pursuing partnership in CONNECT-ED and a long-term learning experience for their teachers may opt to join the Consortium and participate in a year-long Big Ideas Learning and Leadership Development Institute (BILLD).  They will also have access to the two-week CON-QUEST Summer Institute and to the Big Idea Content Courses.

Supporting CONNECT-ED PLCs
Research about PLCs suggests that two essential factors for PLC success are active support of school principals and a skilled PLC facilitator capable of guiding the discussion of content.  Rider, therefore, will support existing CONNECT-ED PLCs throughout Phase III by guiding them through developing their goals and a two-year action plan, and coaching them in facilitating content conversations.  PLCs may apply to CONNECT-ED for PLC Grants to help finance their work in the district.

Phase III Initiatives
Toward these goals, the CONNECT-ED Consortium offers the following initiatives.

Science Practices, Inquiry and Big Ideas Learning Workshops
Developed collaboratively by CONNECT-ED partners, Rider University and Raritan Valley Community College, the workshop addresses the science practices standards and Big Ideas in the science units teachers actually teach. Using strategies from CONNECT-ED, participants are guided first to identify key ideas in a set of their lessons and overarching ideas that connect those lessons.  With the resulting   curriculum “map” in hand, participants will embed science practices (NJ CCS 5.1), inquiry strategies and connection-making instructional moves into lessons for use in their classrooms.

CONNECT-ED Big Ideas Learning and Leadership Development (BILLD) Institute (new partners)
BILLD is a year-long process that begins with a 1-week summer institute followed throughout the year by coaching in lesson design that incorporates connection-making instructional moves.  Further guidance is provided as participants observe one another’s lessons to test them, then analyze, revise, and implement them.  Through this long-term process, teachers not only learn science/math content through inquiry and concept connection-making, but also are guided in applying what they learn to their own practice so that their students also develop the habit of looking for concept connections.  Districts seeking to become Consortium partners must commit to supporting teachers’ participation in BILLD.

Big Idea Learning Design (BILD) Professional Development (existing partners)
Each partner district has a cohort of BILD Trainers who were prepared during Phase II to design and lead CONNECT-ED professional development in their districts.  Using a process developed by Dr. Sylvia Bulgar, an associate professor specializing in mathematics education in Rider’s School of Education, BILD Trainers guide their colleagues through the concept connection-making process and help them apply it to their science and math lesson design.

CONNECT-ED Big Idea Content Courses
To meet the need for adult-level science/math content learning, CONNECT-ED will offer 12-week Big Idea Content Courses, which will be provided on site in the districts after school.  Content for the courses supports the National Research Council (NRC) K-12 Science Framework and the NJCCCS.  Courses reflect the CONNECT-ED approach (concept connection-making and inquiry), and they are designed and taught by university or industry scientists, or by district content experts.   Instructors are immersed in the CONNECT-ED approach and experienced in teaching by inquiry.  Courses may be taken for PD hours and/or graduate credit from Rider University.  Click here for a description of the Physical Science Big Idea Content Course.

CONNECT-ED/QUEST (CON-QUEST) Summer Institute
CON-QUEST is a two-week content rich program run collaboratively by CONNECT-ED partners, Rider and Princeton Universities.  One week is Princeton’s QUEST teacher professional development program, and the other is Rider’s CONNECT-ED program.  In QUEST, participants work in small groups to experiment while discussing pedagogy and the underlying content at an adult level with colleagues and Princeton University faculty.  In CONNECT-ED, five-member teams (one elementary, one middle, and one high school teacher, a science/math supervisor, and a university/industry scientist or engineer) lead participants through Big Idea Modules (BIMs), which trace a big idea as it develops through the elementary, middle and high school levels.  Participants engage in inquiry-based learning activities at each grade level, and discover important concept connections as they discuss the content at an adult level.  Click here to see the CON-QUEST brochure.