This post originally appeared on InService, the ASCD community blog. ASCD (formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) is an educational leadership organization with 160,000 members in 148 countries, including professional educators from all levels and subject areas––superintendents, supervisors, principals, teachers, professors of education, and school board members. View Original >


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ASCD is excited to offer a new Professional Development Institute (PDI) on student engagement. This PDI, which uses a new model of learning, will help to unpack what student engagement really is and provide practical tools that can be used immediately in the classroom to increase student participation and achievement. Through materials from a variety of highly acclaimed authors and guidance from an expert ASCD Faculty member, participants will learn how to decide when to implement certain strategies in order to successfully engage students and ultimately increase their own effectiveness.

A New PDI Model
As mentioned, this PDI will use a new, more engaging model—the blended learning model. With this model, participants will learn about student engagement through both digital and on-site activities. Initially, participants will read online materials, watch webinars, and collaborate digitally with other participants. Next, they will come on-site to reflect on what they have learned and dive deeper into specific strategies for student engagement. Together, participants will determine how to implement the strategies they learned in their classrooms to meet the specific needs of their students. Finally, participants will get the opportunity to implement their ideas in their classrooms. They will use digital tools to continue to collaborate and share how their implementation went. This blended learning model seeks to practice what it preaches—that is, to allow participants to experience first-hand the elements of and strategies for student engagement.

Intentional Practical Strategies
Through this PDI, participants will not only learn practical strategies to increase student engagement, but they will learn how to determine when to use which strategies. We all know that some strategies work better for different circumstances—some work better for text comprehension, while others work better for reflection or independent application. Participants will discover how to align specific strategies to cognitive objectives so that they are using the right engagement strategy, not just any engagement strategy. In addition, participants will use new rigorous standards as a guide for determining what cognitive objectives and strategies will be needed for a lesson, and then they will design that lesson for their class.

Educator Effectiveness
Student engagement is one of the topics educators talk about most when it comes to professional development needs. Educators everywhere constantly express concerns about student engagement, and they want specific advice and feedback to help them better engage their students. Because student engagement is such an important part of classroom instruction, it is also becoming an important part of new teacher evaluation frameworks. Essentially, student engagement is a quality indicator of teacher effectiveness.

We hope that this new PDI, using a unique blended learning approach, will encourage participants to not only learn about student engagement issues but also to collaborate with one another as they try to determine the best strategies to implement in their classrooms and ultimately become more effective educators.

Learn more about this ASCD institute.


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This post originally appeared on Edutopia, a site created by the George Lucas Educational Foundation, dedicated to improving the K-12 learning process by using digital media to document, disseminate, and advocate for innovative, replicable strategies that prepare students. View Original >

 


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My project-based learning colleague John Larmer wrote a great blog on whether or not to start the year with a PBL project. He astutely articulates the benefits and challenges of doing it, as well as other considerations for implementation. Regardless, PBL teachers want to start the year off on the right foot to make sure that PBL is part of the classroom culture. Here are some steps that you can take at the start of the year to get into the PBL groove

Set the Tone for Collaboration
It is crucial that, from the start, students know that collaboration is a norm in the classroom. While teachers often do team-building activities at the beginning of the year, they could also be doing more authentic collaboration on challenges and problems. These activities might be around content such as math, or even speaking and listening skills in a debate on a controversial topic. Teachers need to present students or co-construct with them a collaboration rubric that is utilized and refined throughout the year. From this rubric, teachers can design or select lessons that target specific aspects of collaboration, such as coming to consensus or group time management. Students should reflect and set goals for collaboration, and these should be goals that they’ll revisit. All of these strategies help to build the culture of collaboration necessary for successful PBL.

Critique and Revision Practice
We all know the challenges of having students give and receive a constructive critique. While you can teach these skills in the context of the project, you can also start building them with students from day one so that they’ll see critique and revision as normal parts of classroom practice, as well as essential parts of PBL. From protocols and gallery walks to anonymous peer reviews like the one you’ll find in Austin’s Butterfly, teachers can intentionally scaffold critique and revision to support it in a PBL project.

Educate About or Review PBL
You will have students that come into your classroom that either have no experience with PBL or need to be reminded about what it looks, sounds, and feels like. You can review essential components and steps of PBL through video examples, project examples, or reflecting on past projects. Students can compare and contrast PBL with other teaching methods to help build a common expectation and understanding for what project-based learning is all about.

Build Questioning Strategies
PBL requires the inquiry process. While the project’s driving question can help facilitate inquiry, students need skills to design and ask their own questions. Eventually they can design their own driving questions for a project, but earlier in their journey as PBL learners, you can start by teaching levels of questions (PDF, 99KB), crafting these questions for research, and how to search for relevant information. By intentionally scaffolding these questioning skills, it sends the message that we are all curious students in a curious classroom, life-long learners who continually question and investigate.

These are just some of the steps that you can take to build your classroom’s PBL culture, to create an environment where students not only know what PBL is, but are ready to jump in. Even if you choose not to do all of these, you can collaborate with colleagues to share the load, and create common expectations that we all support PBL across grade levels and content areas. Building PBL culture is intentional and must start as soon as students walk in the door on the first day of school


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