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Spark Your Professional Learning with Tch Resources

June 11, 2015 / by Gretchen Vierstra

It's finally summer -- a time to relax, reflect and rejuvenate. Well, sort of. Although many educators are technically off for the summer, the reality is that the educator brain never stops thinking about lessons, students, texts or how to get next year's class to put the caps back on the markers!

Whether you're simply reading the latest professional book or cleaning out your classroom supply of dried-up glue sticks, you're probably still thinking about school. In fact, some of your may be in the midst of attending professional learning sessions, leading them, or planning them for the fall.

This year, Teaching Channel partnered with a number of fabulous organizations to bring you videos of educators deeply engaged in professional learning. While these videos present great stand-alone content, they also provide models for how educators and organizations are creating unique professional learning opportunities. See if they inspire you to set up something in your own school or district for this summer or in the fall.

Look at Student Work Together

Did you engage in a project this year that resulted in meaningful student work? Is there a unit you think needs tweaking, and do you have student work samples from it? Looking at student work is a great way to refine your instructional practices and materials. As a teacher, I often did this kind of work by myself in the summer weeks leading up to school, but it sure would have been more enjoyable and probably more fruitful if I had done it with a colleague. To see a group of teachers reflecting on student work as a means to determine a lesson’s alignment to standards, take a look at this video of EQuIP's model in action. Or, start planning a critical friends group for the upcoming school year. Check out this video for an example of how critical friends groups work, and consider using a process such as the Tuning Protocol to give your group goals and structure. Here's a list of other protocols you might want to try out.

Take a Deep Dive into Classroom Texts

Are you planning on reading new books over the summer for ideas to incorporate into your curriculum? Do you have texts you used last year that you're unsure of? Gather your colleagues and discuss these texts together. This past year, we partnered with PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) to feature a few of their tools for making instructional decisions, including how to choose complex and meaningful texts. For an overview of the tools available for ELA, check out the video Planning ELA Instruction with PARCC Tools, and see what tools and processes might be useful for you and your colleagues.

Collaborate Around Math

This year, Teaching Channel featured educators following full cycles of collaboration by planning together, teaching, and then reflecting together. Perhaps this is something you already do at your school, or maybe it's something you hope to try next year. Either way, you'll take away some collaboration tips by viewing these videos.

Looking to take your planning team to the next level? Check out our series Collaborating to Develop Mathematical Ideas, where you'll see math teachers across different grade levels and settings getting together not only to plan, but also to share their practices and reflect on the lessons they've implemented afterward. You'll even see a teacher embracing technology by using Teaching Channel Teams to record her class and upload the video for others to view, comment on, and ultimately iterate upon.

Interested in collaborating with teachers on assessment? In our series Engaging Students with Productive Struggle, we visit three math classrooms where teachers are using the MDC (Math Design Collaborative) framework to focus on using formative assessment in the classroom, coupled with teacher collaboration time before and after lessons. In these videos, you’ll see teachers getting together after school to examine student work and design the next day’s instruction based on what they learn.

Binge Watch

Watching video together can be a great way to learn. With our library of over 1,000 videos, Teaching Channel has so much to choose from. And, we've even got ideas for how you can make your watching of video a deeper experience. So, pop some popcorn, gather your colleagues, and try out one (or more) of the following:

  • Pick a video to watch together and use Sarah Brown Wessling's method for classroom observations. She suggests observing for student learning first, and thinking about the teacher second, in order to go beyond replication of instructional moves. Watch this video, download her note-taking guide in the resources, and give it a go.<'li>
  • Take one of our Observation Challenges. These videos are layered with prompts to target your thinking as you watch. Do one with a colleague so that you can converse as you view, or take it alone and share your thoughts with a friend later.
  • Watch, and then learn by doing. Check out our video series Three Dimensions of the NGSS as a way to get up to speed on these standards. Then, just as the educators in the videos do, make sense of the standards by engaging in some science experiences that your students themselves might do.

No matter what you have planned, I'm sure your summer is going to include amazing learning experiences, both professional and personal. Educators are truly lifelong learners, so let's all learn and get better together. Share what you have planned for this summer or the upcoming school year by commenting below.

Topics: Professional Learning, Teaching Channel News

Gretchen Vierstra

Written by Gretchen Vierstra

Gretchen Vierstra taught middle school for ten years in the San Francisco Bay Area. During her 15+ years in education, she’s also been a department chair, new teacher coach, curriculum developer, and policy analyst. She is Director of Educational Content at Teaching Channel.

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