James Madison University (JMU) established the National Center for Rural Science and Mathematics Education. Through the Center, we provided staff development, curriculum materials, and ongoing support to help middle school teachers in rural areas provide access to emerging technologies, particularly geospatial technologies, to their students. Given the fundamental role of geospatial technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, digital image processing and global positioning systems (GPS) in our economy, rural teachers and students need access to and knowledge of these tools. By integrating their use into standards-based curricula, we provided access to these tools and open new opportunities to these students.
Funding was provided through the United States Department of Education's Fund for the Improvement of Education (FIE) has allowed us to establish the Center and offer inquiry-based professional development for in-service middle school teachers that enhanced their current instructional practices. We developed a leadership cadre of teachers from rural areas who participated in two weeks of curriculum development training using geospatial technologies and extensive follow-up support. They returned to their home schools to share their knowledge with other faculty. Project activities were designed around the following goals:
The Center will serve as an advocate and national clearinghouse for the use of geospatial (and other) technologies by rural teachers and students by assembling and disseminating high-quality curricula, data, and other resources
The Center will provide exemplary staff development to middle school STEM teachers.
The Center will provide high-quality follow-up technical and pedagogical support for teachers participating in Center activities.
The Center will assess the impact of the use of geospatial technologies on student learning in rural schools and disseminate the results of that assessment.
The Center sponsored four workshop bringing together rural educators for a two-week seminar on using geospatial technologies in the classroom.
The Center sponsored four workshops bringing together rural educators for a two-week seminar on using geospatial technologies in the classroom. Go to the Agenda page for access to conference presentations.