PKY teacher/COE professor collaboration inspires new model for elementary science teacher preparation


Rose Pringle


February 13, 2008




Rose Pringle

Florida schools are knuckling down on science. The FCAT science test has been added to the K-12 school report card, and the state is about to implement toughened new science standards. A new project teams the College of Education, P.K Yonge Developmental Research School and Union County schools to prepare elementary school teachers for a more rigorous science curriculum.

Known as Let’s Talk Science (or “LeTaS!”), the project is intended to help elementary teachers overcome their reservations about teaching science. Statewide, COE and PKY researchers say, elementary teachers tend to have too little preparation in science, and are uncomfortable both with the lesson content and methods for teaching it.

Teachers in LeTaS! participate in three science content immersion training sessions developed and led by UF science education graduate students as well as PKY and Union County secondary science teachers. With their support, LeTaS! teachers develop an inquiry-based, standards-driven science unit. An online portal maintained by the College of Education will allow teachers to collaborate on these projects even if they find face-to-face meetings too difficult to schedule.

The project grew out of conversations PKY fifth-grade teacher Ashley Pennypacker had with COE Professor Rose Pringle in seeking to improve her own science teaching. The pair then joined forces with PKY Research and Outreach Director Lynda Hayes to turn their collaborative insights into a professional development model. The Florida Department of Education last year awarded the trio $967,000 to develop the model into Let’s Talk Science.

The first group of LeTaS! participants is more than halfway through its course of study—which will culminate in a five-day LeTaS Summer Academy in July. Participants will share some of their learning in a LeTas! Spring showcase scheduled for March 22nd.

If you can’t wait till March, you can check out the LeTaS! website (, developed and created by UF graduate assistant Michael Kung in consultation with COE Associate Professor Kara Dawson and graduate assistant Michelle Klosterman.

The project’s developers hope to make portions of LeTaS! available throughout Florida, through a series of exportable training modules that will be available online.