Bemidji State University receives two federal grants to improve K-12 teaching

BEMIDJI, Minn. (March 22, 2011) — Bemidji State University has recived two federal Improving Teacher Quality Program grants totalling nearly $89,000 to support improved K-12 instruction in mathematics, science, civics and government, economics, history and geography.

The grants were two of 19 awarded by the Minnesota Office of Higher Education totalling more than $1 million made available with federal funds from the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. Those 19 grants were awarded on a competitive basis to colleges, universities and nonprofit organizations working in partnership with one or more high-need school districts. The grants help school districts ensure that all students have teachers with the most current subject-matter knowledge and teaching skills to help all children achieve to high academic standards.

Bemidji State will receive a $58,306 grant in the category of “in-service projects for teachers in science” to fund the BSU Elementary Science Curriculum Institute for Addressing Science Standards. The grant will fund a pair of concurrent two-week summer courses where 30 elementary school science teachers will learn science content based on the revised Minnesota Science Standards for teachers of elementary and middle school students. By the end of the workshop, participants will be able to apply the knowledge and skills learned in these courses to the K-8 classroom, model instructional practices that enhance learning and motivation and provide instruction and assessment consistent with the revised Minnesota Science Standards. Various commercial science curricula for grades K-8 will be available for participants to learn about new curriculum materials to use as resources. After the summer workshop, follow-up meetings will occur during the academic year to provide content and support. Participants will receive four graduate credits upon program completion.

This grant program will be overseen by Dr. John Truedson, professor of physics at Bemidji State. For more information, contact Truedson at (218) 755-2796.

Bemidji State is also receiving a $30,628 grant in the category of “professional development projects for teachers in mathematics.” The grant will fund a summer mathematics course, Foundations of Arithmetic I, for 24 elementary and middle school teachers and highly qualified paraprofessionals from northern and central Minnesota. The course will provide content instruction using mathematical models to enhance understanding of the foundations of arithmetic, instructional models to increase motivation to teach effectively and provide participants with instructional methods for improving student learning. Follow-up meetings will be held during the academic year. Participants will receive three graduate or undergraduate credits upon completion of the program.

This grant program will be overseen by Dr. Heidi Hansen, assistant professor of math and computer science at Bemidji State. For more information, contact Hansen at (218) 755-2820.

In total, Minnesota received $38.5 million for 2010-2011 under the federal Improving Teacher Quality Program. The Minnesota Department of Education administers the larger portion of these funds for state and district-level teacher quality efforts. Federal awards are made to state agencies and local school districts to increase student achievement through strategies such as improving teacher quality and increasing the number of highly qualified teachers in the classroom.