The DESERT Project is a Local Systemic Change (LSC)
project designed to change the way that science is taught throughout the Tucson
Unified School District (TUSD) so that all students become scientifically
literate. The project is designed to build self-sustaining learning communities in
collaboration with the University of Arizona and the business community in 94
elementary and middle schools.
Clear science standards together with both
district wide and site centered professional development will be provided for
1,536 elementaryteachers, and 160 middle school teachers, and 94 principals (n
= 1,790 teachers). Schools as learning communities together with community
links to the community will be accomplished through leadership and district
wide site centered strands. All strands are supported by Internet technology.
The district wide strands provide professional development to help teachers
meet the needs of diverse learners. This will be accomplished through a series
of foundation courses (four) designed to provide teachers experience with
inquiry and assessment strategies. These will be supplemented with summer
courses will develop a pedagogical base necessary for effective science
instruction to diverse learners.
The site centered strand is designed to strengthen
teachers in their instructional mode through study groups and action research
that will empower them to assume responsibilities for their own professional
development on a continuing basis. Computer workstations will be provided in
each teacher's classroom allowing access to the DESERT website containing
information and learning tools to support and augment teaching. Family science
activities at each school with parents and pupils is designed to link the
community and School closer together. Science forums in partnership with
university scientists will be conducted. Businesses will inform and encourage
their members to support systemic change throughout the TUSD schools.