Friday, July 5, 2013

LASD iLearn 2013: Taking Teachers to Wonderland

We just wrapped our second iLearn Summer Academy here in LASD. This summer we had nineteen teachers representing all schools in our district. It was once again, an incredible experience for all involved.

Last summer our focus was on technology. A natural place to start with teachers and a way to open the door to new possibilities outside of the textbook and teacher’s manuals. We followed up with those twenty-four teachers throughout the year, continuing to support their growth and encouraging their attempts at new strategies in their classrooms. Their reflections around the changes they had made over the past year were inspiring and remarkable. Our entire district staff made significant changes regarding their attitude towards the use of technology and understanding the need to upgrade and move students in new directions. Laying a foundation last year allowed us to take teachers even further this year.

We started our week with the essential question, “How do you become an innovative designer of your curriculum and a creative teacher leader on your campus?” We took the focus away from technology tools and moved to focusing on student outcomes and looking at ways to get there. Technology became the transparent tools that were embedded into the week and called upon when needed. We offered flipped opportunities for teachers to learn unfamiliar tools and customized instruction with short one on one tutorials as required. Because teachers were at different skill levels, this allowed them to move forward when ready and get instruction when they needed it. By modeling a blended learning environment throughout our week, we hoped teachers could see the strategy in use and transfer to their classrooms.

What we value. We discovered it was the same things that students valued, written on sticky notes
from our Student Ed-Con experience from the previous week.
We also set up the week using a modified Project Based Learning model with an essential question followed by a daily driving question. Day 1 began with “How do you define your passions and creatively incorporate them into your practice?” It was important to start our week with everyone understanding the power of passion based learning. An early activity was to have everyone create a modified Ignite session to present to the group. I would have to say that these presentations, sprinkled throughout our week, were the highlights of each day. We led team building activities, discussed what we valued, learned the importance of creativity, and explored how to set up an environment for success by establishing Habits of Mind. Teachers created their own e-portfolios to record and reflect their journey.

Throughout the rest of the week we discussed what it meant to revolutionize learning, looked at the meaning of innovation, held a 60 minute film festival, practiced design thinking, learned the importance of reframing and creating relevancy, and planned digital citizenship lessons. We also learned how to “break the rules” through board games and practiced some programming using Tynker as we explored the STEM world. Teachers were excited about creating good online content for blended learning opportunities and left with a clear vision and set of goals for sharing their learning at their individual school sites.

Experimenting with
changing the rules.
I believe our district is one of the most forward thinking districts in the country. We have incredible leadership that continually challenges and supports all staff. As a dedicated team, we work to continue moving forward with the goal of bringing rigorous, engaging, and state-of-the-art learning experiences to all students. I’m excited to see what amazing learning opportunities evolve from our week long learning adventure. We invited teachers to enter “Wonderland” and I’m hoping they never want to leave.
By: Kami Thordarson, Innovative Strategies Coach 
Twitter: @kamithor

1 comment:

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