Tuesday, September 3, 2013

From Ordinary to Extraordinary...

From Ordinary to Extraordinary... A Hero's Journey

That is our theme in the Coppell Independent School District this year.  Personally, I think it accurately describes the work ahead of us; transforming an ordinary/stale/broken educational system into something meaningful/engaging/relevant.  That's no easy task, and as the slogan implies, it will take a group of educational "heroes" to achieve such a gargantuan feat!

After attending the 2013-2014 CISD Principals' Academy over the summer, the administrative team @ Austin Elementary (Laurie O'Neill, Principal and Cooper Hilton, Assistant Principal) was charged with continuing to lead this transformation.  Though our professional learning for this year has only recently begun, we'd like to share a little bit with you from our learning on August 23rd and highlight some of the tools that are helping enhance our transformation.

The CISD Curriculum Team has recently been using infographics to introduce things/topics/upcoming learning and help generate Knows & Need to Knows.  We thought this would be an excellent way to introduce our professional learning "year at a glance" and help activate our educators' schema of things they may already know or be familiar with.  We tried a variety of free online infographic generators, but we ended up settling on Piktochart.  Not only was there a free version to use, it also seemed the easiest to manipulate and customize.  Check out our Piktochart below.  It was a great way to kick off our learning and begin to dust out some of those summer cobwebs from our educators' minds.

As educators, we often brainstorm ways to share our students' learning beyond the walls of our classrooms.  We have been inspired to also share our own professional learning beyond the walls of our school building, hence this PD@Austin blog.  To continue in that effort, the Austin back-to-school professional learning included many opportunities for teachers to share their learning, their connections, and beliefs.  We shared this with the world using Twitter and #austinlearns.  Throughout the session, we embedded various "Twitter Challenges" where educators would tweet a thought, retweet the post of a colleague, or include a picture of some product they were creating.  Want to catch up on the Twitter action?  Check out #austinlearns !  This hashtag will be used continuously throughout our transformation journey.

Our work with transformation is rooted heavily in the theory of Constructivism.  Through this theory, learners draw from their experiences, culture, backgrounds, and the experiences of others to construct new meaning and understandings.  Learning that is approached in this manner is naturally more meaningful and longer lasting.  Our educators were charged with "jigsawing" several articles on Constructivist theory and synthesizing that information into the representation of a Constructivist Educator!  Check out some of their creations.  Additional examples were tweeted using #austinlearns. 

We look forward to sharing from our upcoming learning sessions!  As always, please don't hesitate to share your thoughts, ideas, and suggestions by commenting on this post!

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