In the last several years, we’ve done a lot of rethinking about classroom environments – and that includes hallways! Why is it that school bulletin boards of the past, while cutesy and colorful, often featured thirty examples of the same pumpkin cut out, valentine heart, or spring bunny? What drew educators to purchase and hang multiple “teacher store” posters with sayings like “Attitude Matters!” and “Do Your Best!”? We began to question…Could there be a better use for hallway walls, prime visual venues that they are?
As a result of our reimagining, today’s hallway walls are more story board than bulletin board; these storytelling spaces visually highlight personalized learning and classroom projects. The images shown here are photos are from Brooks School Elementary, where teachers recently gathered early one morning to share ideas and learn from Mrs. Porzuczek’s redesigned hallway space. Perusing these walls, it’s easy to get a sense of what this fourth grade learning community is all about, and of what their recent topics of study have been. QR Codes point to student created videos which explain projects more in depth.
We know that HSE21 is all about teaching and learning in authentic and relevant ways to prepare today’s students for the modern world. It’s an inquiry-based approach to content (and to life!); it’s about collaborating with others to create, discover, and problem-solve.
This HSE21 approach to learning is exactly what is taking place among a group of HSE teachers this year as well. During the 2015-16 school year, twenty-three teacher leaders – we call them the Elementary Design Team – have come together as pioneers to discover best practices for the implementation of 1:1 technology in grades K-4.
Why a focus on K-4 technology integration this year? Easy. Our K-4 buildings are ‘on deck’, slated to roll out 1:1 student iPads in 2016-17. It will be the culmination of a three-year K-12 plan to get a digital tool for learning into the hands of each and every student. To be clear, technology is just that – one tool – but it’s an important tool when the goal is to foster collaborative, globally-connected learning and to prepare students for the future.
Our Elementary Design pioneers are tasked this year with several things – all under the umbrella of this driving question: What are best instructional practices when considering 1:1 technology integration in grades K-4? The Team is exploring digital content and resources; they are using technology to promote project- and problem-based learning, as well as using the technology to promote inquiry and creativity. As pioneers, this group of teachers is also wrestling with more practical questions: screen time, Internet safety, and device logistics for starters.
As the year unfolds, the Elementary Design Team will continue to innovate and experiment, curating resources and lesson ideas as they go, coming together often to debrief and share their learning (meeting in-person and virtually). They will practice creative problem-solving as they work to develop best practices to share with their colleagues. Teachers as learners – an example of HSE21 in action.
This year, one focus of professional development in our junior high buildings has been preparedness for next year’s one-to-one technology roll out. To be clear, teacher training in our district is never centered on technology as an end in itself, but on ways in which digital access serves as a powerful tool to extend, deepen, and personalize learning.
Today, HSE21 Shorts would like to introduce you to a PD model that has been successful and rewarding this year: the HSeLearning Cohort. Our inaugural HSeLearning Cohort has been a group of seventh and eighth grade teachers who are meeting this spring to expand their skill sets and prepare for change. The Cohort is composed of ten teachers from each of our District’s three junior high buildings (30 in all). Selected by their principals, these teachers cut across all subject areas but are united by their growth mindset and willingness to risk.
The HSeLearning Cohort has thus far completed three of four full days of learning together. Topics have ranged from district-supported software applications to social media to digital tools for formative assessment. Working in subject area teams, teachers have discovered portals for rigorous and relevant digital content, and have explored their role as modelers of digital citizenship for this generation. With the help of Matt Miller (www.ditchthattextbook.com), the Cohort even dialogued with teacher in Argentina via Google Hangouts. Matt used this experience to help our teachers understand the potential global reach of our classrooms in the 21st century.
What has made the Cohort PD model enjoyable and successful? Many things: relevant, timely content that has emphasized practical classroom applications, time to design lessons and plan for next year, and, above all, relationship and connections. In coming back together each month this spring, HSeLearning Cohort teachers have had the opportunity to work together with others who teach the same academic content. They’ve built friendships. Though their buildings are miles apart (RJH to FJH to HJH = 12+ miles), HSE21 Shorts predicts that many of these teachers will continue to share ideas and collaborate–something that’s vital to highly effective teaching practice in today’s digital world.
*Special thanks to CIESC for inspiration in the design of the HSeLearning cohort model, and to the Indiana DOE’s Office of eLearning for professional learning grant funds.
When all junior high students (grades 7-8) walk through school doors carrying iPads next August (2015), teachers want to be prepared. Last Thursday’s professional learning day gave them an opportunity to move in that direction. as all junior high faculty participated in the HSE21 1:1 JH Kick-Off Day. Approximately 175 teachers and administrators met at Riverside Junior High and spent the day listening, assessing, collaborating, and learning.
The day began with speakers from neighboring Noblesville Schools, who discussed their shift in instruction and recent iPad roll out. A panel of HSE pilot teachers and intermediate school faculty, having already experienced 1:1 classrooms, then answered questions about what they’ve learned along the way.All junior high teachers assessed their personal and departmental professional development needs for the coming year, and each department developed a plan to ensure preparedness. In the afternoon, teachers gathered in small groups to learn more about digital tools such as Google Drive and Blackboard, HSE’s learning management system.
HSE21 signifies a major shift in the way teaching and learning happens–from lecture-based, teacher-centric to problem-based inquiry learning that is student-driven. HSE faculty, all life-long learners, are on an inquiry journey to a new era in education. And the primary benefactors, wonderfully, are our students.
You’ve heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge. Recently, the HSE21 pilot team at Riverside Junior High challenged their colleagues to the Engagement Challenge! As RJH looks toward August 2015 when students will be 1:1 with iPads as learning tools, the HSE21 team challenged their peers to visit others’ classes several times this year – to gain new teaching ideas and (in the pilot rooms) see one-to-one blended learning in action. Since an engagement challenge need to be engaging, they rolled out the Challenge here:
Following a peer-to-peer classroom visit, teachers are encouraged to share what they learned through a Google form. Pilot teacher Stephanie Dalton added this as she rolled out the Engagement Challenge in an email to staff: “After you complete the form, you can press ‘see previous responses’ to see all of the other great things happening here at the River!”
Today the teachers and principals of two elementary schools participated in a day of professional learning on the topic of increasing student engagement. Teachers practiced activities to use in their classroom to promote movement, less “teacher talk” and more “student talk.” HSE was awarded a grant by the Department of Education to continue this professional development in two more sessions through November. Teachers will be encouraged to chart the growth of students using these specific engagement strategies!
-Submitted by Danielle Riego, District ENL Coordinator