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U-FUTuRES Science Teacher Leadership Institute 

Frequently Asked Questions

What will U-FUTuRES prepare Science Teacher Leaders to do?

U-FUTuRES Science Teacher Leaders will work with project leaders to:

(1) lead district professional development for middle school science teachers in science teaching practice and science content during the Teacher Transformation Series (T²S) devoted to supporting IQWST curriculum implementation,

(2) develop middle school science professional learning communities (MSS-PLC) devoted to continuous analysis of student performance and examination of teaching practice, and

(3) facilitate a quarterly District Leadership Development Series (DLDS) to organize district/school strategic planning to support middle school science.

Will there be continued support for Science Teacher Leaders?

Monthly cadre meetings facilitated by project leaders from UF and PK Yonge will support Science Teacher Leaders as they identify, design, deploy, and examine specific strategies for 1) increasing middle school science teacher knowledge, 2) transforming teachers’ practices, and 3) leading professional learning communities. Monthly cadre meetings provide opportunities to collectively debrief experiences and consider how to improve leadership efforts.

What is the Science Teacher Leadership Institute?

The Science Teacher Leadership Institute is a job-embedded graduate degree program with 3 major program goals: helping educators become master classroom teachers, teacher leaders, and teacher researchers.

It is a classroom-focused, science teaching practice driven, inquiry-based program that places a priority on developing Science Teacher Leaders who are prepared to support and lead colleagues in transforming their science teaching practice and improve student outcomes in science. In this graduate program, learning is directly related to classroom outcomes as teachers learn new strategies, implement them in their classrooms with guided assistance, collect evidence of student learning, and then reflect on and adapt practices.

The program is delivered on-line and face-to-face.  Offered free of charge to a district-endorsed science teacher, the U-FUTuRES Science Teacher Leadership Institute seeks to improve teacher practice, increase student engagement and achievement in science, and serve as powerful mechanism to support and accelerate district efforts to transform their science programs.

How is this different from a traditional Graduate program?

In a traditional graduate program, learning is an individual activity where knowledge is gained but not necessarily translated into practice in the classroom. In the U-FUTuRES STLI program, individuals participate as a cohort from partnering school districts. Course assignments are directly tied to classroom practice and designed to develop deep understanding of the instructional design and science content of the IQWST curriculum.

Unlike traditional graduate programs that draw students from many different settings, U-FUTuRES STLI is offered to secondary science teachers in partnering school districts, all of whom are preparing to lead district transformation in middle school science. Each U-FUTuRES STLI participant will be required to implement the IQWST curriculum, examine his/her practice, participate in critical reflection, read about innovative science teaching practices, collect evidence of student learning, and share professional presentations in a variety of venues. Graduate students will not only acquire and apply new knowledge, but also share it with others within the school district.

Who is it for?

The U-FUTuRES STLI is designed specifically for educators who have made a commitment to teach science in high need middle schools that serve large numbers of families living in poverty. Teachers in this program must have the desire and courage to engage in a collaborative, inquiry-based learning community where practice is made public and craft knowledge is shared freely. The scholarship is only funded for teachers nominated by their school district to apply for and participate in the U-FUTuRES STLI in preparation for leading a district-wide transformation in middle school science.

How much will it cost?

The National Science Foundation Math Science Partnership award to P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School and the College of Education at the University of Florida supports full tuition scholarships to teachers who make a 5-year commitment to their school district to serve as a Science Teacher Leader. This translates to an award of approximately $22,000.

Participant support from the National Science Foundation includes books ($1000/total), local travel ($500/year), and stipends to support participation in the STLI and project-related work during the summers as follows: $2,000 in years one through three; $1500 in years four and five. Participants are responsible for their own application fees (including GRE testing) as well as any program fees resulting from dropping courses or withdrawing past the posted deadlines.

What commitment do participants need to make?

The scholarship is only offered to people employed in our partner schools, so you must remain in one of our schools for the duration of your graduate program. Then, we ask that you make a good faith commitment to remain in your school for 2 years following graduation in order to use your newly acquired skills to assist your school community.

How long will it take?

This is a 2 year, 36-credit Graduate program.

Where will classes be offered?

Classes will include both online and face-to-face meetings.

What are the selection criteria?

Interested applicants must:

1.) Complete a U-FUTuRES project application requiring:
— a signature of support from the district superintendent
— a short essay (up to 1,000 words) explaining your interest in participating in the institute, professional aspirations, and commitment to serving as a teacher leader in their district. The application essay provides the admissions committee a sample of your writing ability, so spend time and effort preparing and proofing your submission with the online application.

2.) A formal interview by U-FUTuRES project leaders will be required prior to formal application through the UF online system.

3.) Meet university entrance requirements, including:
— an upper division undergraduate GPA of 3.0
— GRE scores that average around 450-600 in the verbal and math sections.
— Three letters of recommendation are required as well, with one of those being from a principal or other school administrator who can speak to your commitment and teaching abilities.

What courses will I take?

Summer 2012

3 credits

SCE 5316

Inquiry-based Science Teaching: Web-based course designed to explore inquiry-based science (NRC, 2000) and supportive classroom interactions. Assignments will support classroom-focused application of course content and provide a conceptual framework for transforming middle school science instruction. Participant learning will be supported through Lesson Study videos developed through the PKY Outreach program.
3 credits  Science Curriculum Development:  Understanding by Design (Wiggins & McTighe, 1998) and How People Learn Science (Donovan et al., 2005) will provide a shared framework for understanding the IQWST curriculum. Participants will deconstruct the IQWST curriculum and other NSF-developed instructional materials and units to deepen their knowledge of inquiry-based science. Training in the IQWST curriculum will also be provided.
3 credits

IDS 5000

*Physics/Chemistry: Focused on developing disciplinary content knowledge (DCK) through a combination of inquiry-based, lab experiences, readings, on-line investigations, and discussions. Participants will develop skills in ways of knowing content (WOK) as they engage in face-to-face and on-line discussions, and through their writing.  As a culminating assignment, participants will work with UF scientists to design a multi-day workshop for middle school science teachers to deepen their science content knowledge through a reform-oriented teaching approach and aligned to support the big ideas in IQWST.  Ongoing, web-based support provided by STEM scientists and their graduate students will be facilitated during school the year through CPET. (Specific content details below)
Fall 2012

3 credits

EDG 6931

Data Driven Instruction: A web-based course supported through monthly STL cadre meetings organized as a professional learning community for STL’s; participants will study and apply principles and practices of assessment to inform instructional planning and monitoring equity in science achievement and student engagement. Course assignments include analysis of formative and summative curriculum-based science assessments.
3 credits

IDS 5000

*Biology/Environmental Sciences: (See Physics/Chemistry for course description and below for details)
Spring 2013

3 credits

EDG 6931

Adult Learning and Evidenced-Based Professional Development:  A web-based course designed to prepare teacher participants to lead reform-oriented, job-embedded professional development in their schools and to effectively lead district-based professional learning communities.
3 credits

EDG 6931

Teacher Leadership and School Change: Participants will examine the dynamics of change within educational contexts by focusing on theory, research, and practice as well as principles for managing change. Coursework will prepare STLI participants for the local challenges they will face as reform leaders and develop specific strategies for nurturing active administrator/ teacher participation in school change.


Summer 2013

3 credits

EME 5404

Technology Integration to Support Science Learning: An exploration of critical issues and evidenced-based applications for designing and integrating technology into meaningful and engaging science learning experiences. Course assignments will support classroom-focused technology applications aligned to support implementation of the IQWST curriculum and to facilitate inclusion of UF and regional exemplars.
3 credits

IDS 5000

*Earth/Space Sciences: (See Physics/Chemistry for course description and below for details)
3 credits

EDE 6458

Culturally Responsive Science Teaching:  Through collaborative action research, participants will develop and study strategies for creating and implementing culturally responsive pedagogy to support equity in student engagement, academic competence, and achievement in science.
Fall 2013

3 credits

EDG 6931

Masters’ Project – Part I: Participants will select an issue relevant to their work as STL’s implement a job-embedded action research project.
Spring 2014

3 credits

EDG 6931

Masters’ Project – Part II: Action research continues and thesis is submitted.


Core Courses in Science: College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

The overarching goal of the three science courses is to provide middle grade teachers (6th-8th grades) with the scientific principles, concepts, practices and methodologies required to teach physical/chemical science, biology/environmental science, and earth/space science in an integrated and consistent manner at the middle school level. The general theme of the Physical/Chemical Science course will be to explore the impact of chemistry on everyday life and how the behavior and structure of matter as minute particles interacting in different ways results in the makeup of the physical universe. The general theme of the Biology/Environmental Science course will be to understand the interrelationships of the natural world — how life is maintained, flow of matter and energy in the ecosystem, and how organisms adjust to changes in the environment — through identification and analysis of environmental problems, both natural and anthropogenic. The general theme of the Earth/Space Science course will be to focus on understanding the Earth as one interconnected system, in which changes occur over vast scales of time and space, and in which biogeochemical systems react to and recover from disturbances.

The planned science course series will focus on developing specific disciplinary content knowledge (DCK) through a combination of inquiry-based lab experiences, readings, on-line investigations, and discussions. Furthermore, as participants engage in scientific practices, they will develop skills in ways of knowing and doing science, engage in face-to-face and on-line discussions, and through their writing and other metacognitive strategies develop deep science knowledge required to enact the middle school science curriculum and to position the Science Teacher Leaders (STLs) as effective instructional coaches and professional learning providers. Particular focus will be placed on the following scientific practices: asking and refining questions, writing evidence-based explanations, constructing models, and designing investigations to deepen STL understanding of DCK. In addition, participants will explore interactions among science, technology and society, and will address aspects of sustainability such as economic, social and environmental. One of the culminating course assignments will require participants to work with science course instructors and other UF scientists to design a multi-day workshop (Teacher Transformation Series, T2S) for middle school science teachers to deepen their science content knowledge through a reform-oriented teaching approach.

Content related to each of the three courses will include:


  • Energy: Conservation and transformation.
  • Force and motion: Kinematics in one dimension, Newton’s laws, work and energy, vibration and waves, light’s role in sight and its interaction with matter.
  • Temperature and kinetic theory: Heat, electricity and magnetism.
  • Structure and nature of matter: Particle nature of matter and phase changes, structure of matter (atoms and molecules).
  • Chemical systems: Nature of chemical reactions and conservation of matter.
  • Organic chemistry: Properties and compounds and the properties of carbon and chemical reactions in plants and in our bodies.

Biology/Environmental Science

  • Organization and development: Cells to organ systems.
  • Survival and life history: From organisms to ecosystem.
  • Maintenance of life: Source of energy, autotrophic and heterotrophic nutrition; adjustment and control, response and coordination.
  • Reproduction, development, heredity and natural selection.
  • Organisms and their environment: From biosphere to ecological niche.
  • Biotechnology:  Impact on individuals, society, and the environment, including medical and ethical issues.
  • Interdependence: Distribution and interaction of organisms with the environment, movement of energy and nutrients within the environment and the effects of human activities on the environment.

Earth/Space Sciences

  • Earth materials: Matter, minerals and rocks, earth’s energy and mineral resources.
  • The changing surface of the earth: Landforms, weathering, erosional forces and deposition.
  • Earth system, internal processes and resources: Geologic time scale; plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanism; seasons; solar intensity and latitude.
  • Earth air and water: The atmosphere, its composition and structure, atmospheric circulation and the Coriolis Effect, weather and climate, ocean motion and oceanography, and atmosphere–ocean interactions.
  • Climate and human experience: Processes that drive large-scale weather patterns.
  • Global Water Resources and Use (Freshwater/saltwater; ocean circulation; agricultural, industrial, and domestic use; surface and groundwater issues; global problems; conservation).
  • Soil and Soil Dynamics, rock cycle, formation and composition, physical and chemical properties, main soil types, erosion and other soil problems, and soil conservation.
  • Astronomy: Exploring space, the sun-earth and moon system, satellites, phases and eclipses, the solar system, stars, galaxies and the universe.