Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum
Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum
This is an exciting time to be an elementary school teacher. In classrooms across the country, teachers are taking on the challenge of making learning more hands-on, minds-on, and meaningful for every child. Nowhere is this more evident than in the teaching of math and science.
But achieving classroom change, while exciting, can be a long and sometimes arduous process. This series will provide support for teachers who are already taking steps toward change, as well as for those who are just beginning, by focusing on things that teachers can do now, today, in their own classrooms.
One theme that is central to change in math and science is the "student-centered" classroom. As elementary teachers address issues in curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and management, it is important to consider the characteristics, needs, and goals of the individual learner. This can be a difficult task, and is best conceptualized as a vision toward which teachers can continuously make progress, rather than something that can be fully accomplished.
Another important theme for change is the "teacher as learner." Colleagues can provide powerful sources of knowledge and support for one another, and teachers need only to look toward the learning communities within their own schools and districts to find the most appropriate resources for change. This series will build on the idea of teachers as resources by providing time before, during, and after each broadcast for teacher discussion and activity.
This eight-part workshop series for K-5 educators will explore current issues of change in elementary math and science. Each session will build upon the previous session by focusing on issues that might arise while proceeding through one possible "cycle" of learning in the classroom -- from guiding student ideas when a unit of study begins, to facilitating critical thinking during subsequent math and science investigations, to alternative forms of assessing understandings, to cultivating connections outside the classroom as a way of enriching knowledge.
Each of the eight workshops will be two hours in length. The two hour workshops will consist of a 30-minute preliminary Site Investigation (Getting Ready), a 60-minute televised broadcast, and a 30-minute concluding Site Investigation (Going Further).
Each one-hour broadcast will be presented in a "magazine style" format, with several different segments appearing regularly each week. At the core of each session will be Classroom Clips, which will feature video of K-5 teachers in actual classroom situations. Conversations is a companion segment that allows participants to listen in on practicing K-5 teachers as they discuss next moves given similar circumstances.
Other segments include Metaphorically Speaking, Try This!, The Great Bean Bag Adventure, and Did You Know? Metaphorically Speaking takes participants outside of the classroom and into the worlds of different professionals as a way of providing teachers with alternative ways of conceptualizing their roles in the classroom. Try This! provides instructions for activities, generally adapted from those seen in Classroom Clips, that can be used in the classroom by participants—ideally, as a way to learn more about an issue. The Great Bean Bag Adventure is designed to engage participants in an ongoing activity, which, as a shared experience, can serve as a "real" example for discussing issues. And Did You Know? is simply an interesting fact or statistic that will make you say "wow!"
In addition to the one-hour broadcast, each workshop will contain Site Investigations (to be conducted at each site thirty minutes before and after each broadcast), Site Conversations (to take place at designated points during each broadcast), and Homework Assignments (to be completed by participants between broadcasts). The goal of the Site Investigations and Site Conversations is to draw upon the knowledge and experience of participants at each broadcast site and provide a forum for an active exchange of ideas about workshop issues. Homework Assignments are designed to promote continued thinking and learning about these issues between sessions, and to provide participants with a way of documenting their progress through the series.
A new feature of this workshop series is a specially designed, highly interactive Web site, which we encourage all participants to access. We hope that teachers will use the Internet as a tool with which to communicate and share ideas with teachers from across the country, and we have provided a user-friendly interface for activities and discussions to make the Web site easily accessible to all. The content on the Web site will complement and extend the material presented in the televised broadcasts, and the opportunity to engage in Web Conversations with the national community of participating teachers will greatly enhance the overall value of the series for all workshop participants.
Teachers play the pivotal role in the change process by deciding upon appropriate next moves given their own circumstances. All teachers begin with visions of teaching and learning that have been built from many years of experience in schools—as students and as teachers. These past experiences shape the present classroom, and are starting points for planning for the future. Taking steps toward change implies trying new approaches, reflecting upon their outcomes, and, through this experience, finding new starting points.
Please join a community of learners as we consider our next moves!