The Penn State Earth and Space Science Partnership is an NSF Targeted Math Science Partnership (DUE-0962792) funded to improve the quality of instruction and student learning in Earth and Space Science (ESS) at the middle school level in Pennsylvania. Our approach includes professional development workshops for teachers in our partner districts that tightly integrate content knowledge, curriculum development and pedagogical improvement. Summer workshops are followed by three regional working sessions focused on implementing pedagogy introduced in the workshops and fostering communities of practice within districts. Teachers who participate in our workshops are mentored to further develop as teacher leaders beyond their own classrooms, with opportunities to serve as leaders in future workshops, present learning innovations at conferences and publish in peer-reviewed practitioner journals. Workshop evaluations document that teachers report increased understanding and comfort level teaching ESS topics with inquiry-based instructional strategies. To broaden our impact, we established the Pennsylvania Earth Science Teachers Association (PAESTA, http://www.paesta.org/), a state affiliate of NESTA. With membership free and open to any K-16 educator, PAESTA has proven to be an important asset to the ESS community in our state and neighboring states. We are committed to making PAESTA a sustainable vehicle to enhance and maintain the teacher network from the summer workshops, and to go further by engaging ESS teachers from across the state. PAESTA is becoming PAâs go-to resource for high-quality teaching materials, current events and ESS advocacy, and enjoys a good relationship with the PA Department of Education. Teachers have many leadership opportunities in PAESTA, from serving as an elected officer to volunteering for committees such as the Teacher Advisory Group. The first annual PAESTA conference in 2012 we feel was a big success with attendance, enthusiasm, and presentation quality, and we look to further increase teacher participation and development through the organization.
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