Typically, before teachers begin their first module, they receive preparation from a FOSS consultant. (Please contact your Delta Education FOSS Regional Manager for more information). During this orientation, teachers experience FOSS lessons as learners to better understand the content themselves, as well as to be introduced to the components of the program and how to use them. We recommend that this be a six-hour session so teachers can feel comfortable and confident about using FOSS. If teachers receive a shorter exposure, recognize they will likely need support as they get started.
One of the major goals of the initial introduction is for teachers to become comfortable with the four elements of the active investigation—context setting, firsthand experience, data acquisition and management, and analysis and explanation (as described in the Overview chapter of each module). The active investigation is the general learning cycle FOSS uses. Note that it might take teachers a few weeks to fully internalize the four elements. But if teachers trust the curriculum and follow the Investigations Guide, and complete all the steps in a part of an investigation, they will have fully implemented an active investigation. Encourage teachers to complete all the steps in one part before continuing to the next (teachers should not skip around with the Investigations Guide). Sometimes beginning implementers try to get through as many steps as they can in one day, and then move on to the next part the following day. In so doing, they miss the crucial analysis and sense-making steps in the first part. To support teachers, remind them to view the Teacher Preparation videos on FOSSweb on ThinkLink.
Encourage grade-level planning specifically for science implementation. When beginning to use a new curriculum, many teachers focus on what they are doing during instruction. Discussions around classroom materials management, collaborative groups, and use of science notebooks will help support teachers during this initial stage.
Use the planning guide to determine which aspects of the instructional design you want to focus on in a teacher’s first year and then in the next few subsequent years, e.g., using the assessment system, incorporating science-centered language development, and facilitation of sense-making discussions.
The FOSS instructional design components are elaborated in professional learning chapters on the ThinkLink Knowledge Base—Science Notebooks, Taking FOSS Outdoors, Access and Equity, and Science-Centered Language Development. Schools have used these chapters for PLCs. If improving three-dimensional learning is a goal, there are grade-level specific chapters with strategies for supporting student engagement in science and engineering practices, deepening understanding of the crosscutting concepts, and supporting sense-making discussions. Focusing on one or two chapters at a time helps teachers hone in on developing a few instructional strategies. Several small and deliberate changes over time can be very powerful for increasing instructional effectiveness.