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Hands-On: Professional Development

By Christine Weiser | September 2007
PBS TeacherLine<br />
PBS TeacherLine

Executive summaries of recent district installations.

NAME: Eric Jones, director of high school education
DISTRICT: Henrico County (VA) Public Schools
WHAT WE USE: Pearson Achievement Solutions’ Enhancing Instruction in Technology

How our district uses it: We use the program’s data-driven planning and customized professional development to implement one-to-one computing in all our high schools.

Why I like it: The training is done from an instructional, rather than technical, viewpoint. Rather than simply learning the basics of how to use a technology tool, teachers learn how to use the tool to improve teaching and learning in their classrooms. In addition, unlike one-shot professional development, the program provides ongoing training and support, and creates a framework for continuous improvement through faculty study groups.

What I wish it could do: While it meets all of my needs, I wish there were a component that provided immediate feedback to teachers on the quality of technology integration. Training administrators to evaluate the effectiveness of various integration
strategies and providingâÂ??¯valuable feedback is the next step in our program.

NAME: Dr. Terry Holliday, Superintendent
DISTRICT: Iredell-Statesville (NC) School
WHAT WE USE: Teachscape

How our district uses it: We implement high-yield instructional strategies through online professional learning communities. Not only do our teachers get professional development through Teachscape’s online programs, but Teachscape trains an onsite lead teacher at all of our 35 schools to be a coach-trainer and follow up on the training.

Why I like it: Teachscape has excellent support materials and suggestions for lessons so teachers can review a topic multiple times if they don’t get it the first time. We also like that the Teachscape system tracks who has spent how much time on the online courses.

What I wish it could do:
We face two huge challenges: how to better work with ESL and how to get exceptional needs students to grade level. Our teachers need professional development help in these two areas the most.

NAME: Mike Horan, Director of Instructional Technology
DISTRICT: Sarasota (FL) County Schools
WHAT WE USE: Promethean Learning

How our district uses it:
We are rolling out 2,700 ACTIVboards—the largest implementation in the country—so teachers are receiving timely hands-on training and can be part of professional learning communities that will offer 30 hours of training. To deal with the large numbers, we are also implementing a train-the-trainer model and offering districts the opportunity to put multiple experts at each school.

Why I like it: We made a large-scale investment with hardware to engage the digital learner; I need a training component to comply with that effort. The Promethean training delivers activities geared toward what teachers integrate into the classroom.

What I wish it could do: I like training programs that provide video lessons. It would be nice to see best practices in quick video segments on the online community, Promethean Planet. Teachers learning from other teachers is very powerful.

NAME: James Glover, Director of Technology
DISTRICT: Moss Point (MS) School District
WHAT WE USE: Certiport IC3 certification

How our district uses it: We use the Certiport training modules for teacher IC3 certification. To encourage participation, we offer a stipend and continuing education credits, as well as leverage classroom technology equipment based on commitment to exams.

Why I like it: If a teacher or student gets this certification, he or she can go to any district, even change jobs, and be equally technically literate in any environment.

What I wish it could do:
It would help us financially if the pre-assessment was not an additional charge.

NAME: Janice Richison, Senior Coordinator, instructional technology

DISTRICT: Norfolk (VA) Public Schools
WHAT WE USE: PBS TeacherLine

How our district uses it:
Our Instructional Technology Resource Teacher (ITRT) conducts an online pre-survey in the beginning of the year to ascertain the professional development needs of the staff. Then the ITRT selects a PBS TeacherLine course that best meets each user’s needs.

Why I like it:
PBS TeacherLine provides an alternative strategy to learning while integrating instructional technology. The teachers love it.

What I wish it could do:
I'd like it if there were an online student program.

About the Author

Christine Weiser is a writer and editor who has reported on K-12 education technology for more than 15 years.

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