UT College of Natural Sciences Regional Collaborative

UT College of Natural Sciences Regional Collaborative

Objective To create a professional development partnership with neighboring school districts to address the challenges of elementary science education and empower the districts’ teachers to drive measurable change within their classrooms.

Collaborative Goals:

1. Rediscover Science

The Hands-on-Science workshops and on-site professional development work are designed to give you the opportunity to learn in the same way that you can teach your students, through exploration and discovery.

2. Transform Your Classroom

Our goal is to help you ask questions and think like a scientist so that you feel comfortable handling your students’ “why and how” questions. By partnering together we can help you overcome the challenges associated with a broad science curriculum, time constraints in preparation and teaching, and diverse student backgrounds. 

We can arm you with the techniques that can be used to transform your current teaching methods and lessons to inquiry-based science lessons aligned with the TEKS.

What You get from the Workshops

  • A content-building experience completely aligned with the TEKS.
  • Expansion of your interdisciplinary science content knowledge
  • Development of a common scientific language across science disciplines
  • Inquiry-based teaching skills to guide students through experiments and evidence-based reasoning to discover the big ideas. 

Challenges of Science Teaching

  • Broad curriculum
  • Disjointed professional development
  • Time constraints in preparation and teaching of Hands-on-Science lessons
  • Diverse student backgrounds

The vicious cycle begins in the college science courses of one generation. An assorted string of lecture courses results in disconnected facts and missing components of science content. Through this experience, pre-service teachers and students of many other disciplines leave college without a solid foundation of basic science knowledge. Because they themselves were never fostered in appropriate science content knowledge and the teaching of science content, they are not prepared to teach science. Their students then leave for college without the proper foundation. The vicious cycle then continues with the college science education experiences of this second generation.

What Makes Our Program Unique?

  • A partnership with and ongoing support for you as the districts’ teachers
  • On-site Professional Development sessions and Classroom Visits
  • You will help build this program through your ideas about the needs of educators
  • Development of a collaborative learning model to build a community of learners at district, teacher, and student levels.
  • Training and Support for inquiry-based content development and Hands-on lessons as the vehicles for science content learning.
  • Intensive summer workshops combined with ongoing instructional support throughout the school year.
  • Two-way feedback system between UT Instructional Partners and the Districts’ Teachers to create science learning that works in the field
Requirements of the Two Levels of Collaborative Membership
Science Teacher Mentor (STM) Cadre Member (CM)
One Summer Workshop each Summer Optional Summer Workshop
Two full days of on-site Professional Development with substitute coverage provided by your district Science Teacher Mentor Support for Vertical Alignment and Inquiry-Based Lessons
Monthly on-site after-school Professional Development Monthly on-site after-school Professional Development
UT-Austin Instructional Partner Visits UT-Austin Instructional Partner Visits
Stipend and Hands-on-Science Materials Stipend and Hands-on-Science Materials














Workshop is free to Collaborative Members

Workshop Hours: 8:00 am – 4 pm Mileage & Parking Paid Convenient garage parking, easy access from IH-35 & 1 block from workshop location

On-Site Professional Development Details

  • STMs receive 1 full day session, Fall and Spring; Substitutes provides by the districts
  • Monthly on-site after school sessions from 3:30 pm – 5:30 pm for STMs and CMs
  • Baseline Data Collection through pre- and post-assessment of students by teachers
  • Teacher Researchers: you will be an important part of this professional development research. Through observations, reflections, and the two-way feedback system, you will create and report the best practices that come out of the program
  • Observations and feedback sessions in teachers’ classes with UT instructional partners
  • Support from UT Instructional Partner with the creation of lessons and materials
  • On-line Repository for Exemplary Lessons and Teaching Materials

For more information, please contact:

Project Coordinator: Peggy Pitts

E-Mail: peggypitts@austin.utexas.edu