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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Investing in Professional Development for Technology and Inquiry-Based Learning

In rural Missouri, a job-embedded PD program called eMINTS has made a positive impact with long-term, relevant, and hands-on technology training. Read more.
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Investing in Professional Development for Technology and Inquiry-Based Learning (Transcript)

Tonya: I grew up here at Hartville. I moved here in third grade and I graduated here.

We are kind of your traditional small town. We've got our square with the courthouse on it. We've got old buildings that have been around since the Civil War era.

When I first came in the classroom I was one of those traditional teachers. I would stand in front of the class. I would give the notes. Nothing really ever worked great.

And then once eMINTS was brought in and I went through that training, learning how to help the students work in groups, learning how to guide them.

It was amazing to see the student who was always resistant to education gradually and slowly over the school year they start getting involved with the group and never been involved before, start making friends that had never made friends before.

You could see it in the student's eyes that big "aha" moment when the light bulb goes off and you can tell they finally got it.

Doug: Well today we're working with catching up on some websites that you may or may not be familiar with.

Monica: The biggest thing we do is help teachers learn how to be learners again.

Doug: Just a second ago you guys were talking about what your favorite part of working in a technology classroom was. And so now I want you to think again. If you could create a word or a phrase or a picture to describe what you just talked about, what would that be?

One of the things I do is I deliver the professional development for the district teachers.

I try to make the trainings be active and meaningful.

Teacher: You know you've got the live, laugh, learn and the lifetime because it's a lifetime skill that we're teaching them.

Doug: A lot of times teachers don't get that opportunity to just be an instructional designer with other teachers.

Teacher: Enhanced interaction.

Teacher: Enhanced interaction. That's it.

Teacher: I like it.

Doug: In a typical school day they may work with children all day and then when the bell rings and the students go on the bus they may have to work by themselves or they go home and when you come to an eMINTS training you're working with your peers.

Tonya: They go out and they collect all this data and they compile all these graphs and they put it all together in the PowerPoint and they have to stand up and teach the rest of the class, they have a better understanding of those concepts of the scientific method and how important your hypothesis is and how you have to follow that all the way through.

Doug: Here's what we will do next with that word, phrase or picture is we have a graffiti wall and we're going to ask that you come up, select a pen and either write your word or write your phrase or draw your picture on the graffiti wall.

Tonya: Doug Caldwell, you know, he stands up there and he models what us as teachers should be doing in the classroom. After the explore time he brings us all back and had us do a graffiti wall, a sharing what we learned and talking about as a group "Here's what I looked at, what am I going to do with it?" so that helps me to know that in my classroom it's important to get them back in that group and say "Okay, here's what I've done." So other students can kind of like "Oh, I've got an idea now.”

Monica: It's a two-year program. The person who is doing their professional development sessions facilitating those, comes into their classroom on at least a monthly basis so they are very tightly woven with eMINTS, with their facilitator, with the materials and with their colleagues in this learning community over a period of two years and that's when the changes begin to take place.

Student: Every animal has to have its adaption to its environment.

Student: Yeah.

Doug: Why do you think that understanding that all that stuff you just mentioned is important?

Student: Well it's important to know if the animal can live there or not?

Tonya: What I want you to do now is I want you to come up with either a picture or a word that represents what you just talked about.

What has helped me is I choose one thing, maybe one lesson I really want to work on and I work on it and I get it done and I use it with the students and then I'll move on to another lesson.

Doug: We're bringing technology to the rural school instead of throwing a teacher in that room and saying "Hey, enjoy all your new tools." We try to talk about during the training how we will use the tools, how would students use the tools? What is the role of the teacher? What is the role of the technology?

I saw your entry point where you used the graffiti wall.

Tonya: Yes that was a really neat thing last night. I really liked using it so I really enjoyed it. It helped us focus our attention on our unit so I think it's a great- I'm hoping to use it more.

I have discovered that if students are digging and finding it for themselves they will learn it much better. So it has really changed my view of education.

Doug: A teacher met me in the teacher's lounge and she was crying. She said "That was the most powerful thing I've ever done. I really took a chance. I wasn't sure that my students would respond, but I followed through then the students generated some terrific questions. And there are things that I wouldn't have thought of as an adult." And it was really meaningful to the students because they were trying to solve problems that meant something to them.

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  • Director: Zachary Fink
  • Producer: Mariko Nobori
  • Editor: Daniel Jarvis
  • Associate Producer: Douglas Keely
  • Camera: Hervé Cohen, Zachary Fink
  • Graphic Design: Maili Holiman
  • Digital Media Curator: Amy Erin Borovoy
  • Executive Producer: David Markus

© 2012 | The George Lucas Educational Foundation | All rights reserved.

Resources and Downloads

eMINTS, a Missouri-based nonprofit, provides 200 hours of PD, spread over two years -- and the teacher training has had positive impacts on student achievement. Educators from eMINTS have shared these resources for use in your own school.


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