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Welcome to INTEC

INTERNATIONAL NETCOURSE TEACHER ENHANCEMENT COALITION

  1. The INTEC Project Goal
  2. The INTEC NetCourse™
  3. Centrality of Student Inquiry
  4. The INTEC Curriculum: Support for the Standards
  5. The INTEC Curriculum: Support for New Content Knowledge
  6. Administrators as Partners in Reform

The INTEC Project Goal

Support for inquiry-based instruction, a central feature in national and state designs for mathematics and science reform, represents the most important missing element in current teaching practice and is the most difficult challenge for professional development, particularly at the middle and high school levels. The goal of the INTEC project is to support teachers directly in implementing the use of student investigations in mathematics and science at the middle and high school levels by offering a NetCourse™ to schools and districts committed to substantial reform. The INTEC NetCourse is intended to engage teachers in their own extended investigations, to supply the prerequisite skills, knowledge of math and science and teaching and evaluation strategies needed to offer students opportunities to participate in investigations, and to provide online assistance from teacher-experts, along with online support from colleagues, as teachers begin offering inquiry-based activities to their students.

The INTEC NetCourse

INTEC is a four-credit graduate course that provides a year-long sequence of activities, including varied options that meet the subject matter interests of a broad range of middle and high school mathematics and science teachers. These activities offer participants the equivalent of a minimum of 125 contact hours.

Activities within the INTEC NetCourse include face-to-face study groups at each site, graphic supported online discussions, virtual study groups, software simulations, and use of the Internet as a data resource. We will be piloting new technology that permits ease of interaction in text, graphic, and multimedia among participants. The schedule of the INTEC NetCourse offers flexibility in order to fit agreeably with the heavy preparation and course load secondary educators commonly endure.

An important component of the INTEC approach is commitment at the school and district level of administrative and technical support who ensure that inquiry-based learning taught through the NetCourse will be instituted, continued, and disseminated. Site-based coordinators will assist participants with technical issues including connectivity. Adminstrators will take part in some of the INTEC activities including some online discussions.

Centrality of Student Inquiry

Genuine student inquiry and investigation are the basis for student understanding of both mathematics and science. Efficient utilization of learning opportunities presented in student investigations is the most important challenge facing mathematics and science educators. It is only through their own inquiry that students learn the content and process of both disciplines. Meeting this challenge requires teachers who understand that student investigation is essential AND who have had that experience themselves.

The late Lewis Thomas, the master of words and consummate writer, captured the importance of investigations and chastised educators for not communicating it:

It is the very strangeness of nature that makes science engrossing, that keeps bright people at it, and that ought to be at the center of science teaching. I believe that the worst thing that has happened to science education is that the great fun has gone out of it.... Very few see science as the high adventure it really is, the wildest of all explorations ever taken by human beings, the chance to catch close views of things never seen before, the shrewdest maneuver for discovering how the world works. (Thomas, 1981)

Unfortunately, this wildest of explorations has been squeezed out of most mathematics and science education. In the rush to put more content into education and to prepare students for the next exam, the essence of the discipline has been lost. The practice of educating students in mathematics and science has developed into a separate entity divorced from the application and process of research in both disciplines. From kindergarten through college, students rarely do math and science. They seldom see these topics as creative; they do not view them as open-ended or as meaningful to their own lives. By ignoring real investigations, we not only fail to convey an accurate impression of what mathematics and science is, we miss out on a teaching strategy that is fun, motivating, inspiring, and educationally sound.

The INTEC Curriculum: Support for the Standards

The first step towards supporting classrooms that echo with the joy of learning cited above is support for the teacher to experience personally inquiry in his/her own discipline. As recommended by the AAAS Benchmarks and NRC Standards, extended investigations will occupy the core of the INTEC NetCourse. Teachers will explore activities in which they frame the question, design the approach, estimate the time and costs involved, calibrate the instruments, conduct trial runs, write a report, and finally, respond to criticism. Throughout the course, teachers at site-based and virtual groups will experience and build their knowledge of this culture of inquiry. In the final topic, a practicum, teachers will pilot the curricular pieces they have used to bring the sense of high adventure they have experienced to their students. Through their own experiences teachers become knowledgeable guides for students embarking on their own investigations.

Beyond a personal experience of inquiry, the INTEC NetCourse provides participants familiarity with the flexible tools needed to sustain student-initiated inquiry that might lead in many directions and require measurements and analysis that are unanticipated. The tools utilized in the INTEC NetCourse include CBL (Calculator Based Labs), spreadsheets, data analysis and graphing tools, hands-on models, modeling software, electronics, and instrumentation.

The NetCourse also provides teachers with prerequisite skills and experience with pedagogical tools, including techniques of discussion leading, applied knowledge of constructivist pedagogy, and questioning and assessment strategies to sustain their efforts at implementing extended inquiry.

The INTEC Curriculum: Support for New Content Knowledge

Inquiry is just not inquiry unless the unknown is faced and something new is learned. Materials that challenge participants to learn new content or experience old ideas in totally new ways are an important component of the curriculum of the NetCourse. The INTEC Project has formed partnerships with some of the finest secondary curriculum projects to bring quality inquiry experiences to participants in mathematics and science. These curriculum development projects have integrated software such as image processing, modeling software, and Quicktime movie clips as investigative tools in mathematics and science, as well as innovative designs for hands-on experiences with instruments and manipulative models. Included in these investigations are topics of interest to practicing mathematicians and scientists. Participants and their students will do science and mathematics.

Partners for the NetCourse include:

Participants are invited to explore web sites of these partners, as well as a general framework of the fall 1998 INTEC course schedule.

Administrators as Partners in Reform

It is difficult being the only teacher offering extended investigations in a middle or high school course because students are unfamiliar with the prerequisite skills. Other teachers and administrators often are unsupportive and assessment of both teachers and students may be inappropriate. Administrative support is essential because investigations can be messy and noisy. They may require block scheduling, generate additional costs, and require giving up content coverage. Assessment measures and format also require change with implementation of inquiry- and project-based instruction. To address these concerns and others, administrative participation is required as part of the commitment to the INTEC NetCourse. Administrators are not expected to become science and math experts, but issues relating to programmatic and systemic support for inquiry-based mathematics and science should be discussed freely in the face-to-face site-based meetings. Contributions from administrators to any of the discussion groups are most welcome.


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INTEC, A project of The Concord Consortium. Copyright © 1998, All rights reserved.