George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Our conversation continues the next two days with a discussion about professional development to support teaching practices for deeper learning. Today, we hear from Gary Hoachlander from ConnectEd - The California Center for College and Career Success.

Authentic Professional Development

Gary Hoachlander

"Why do I need to know this?" It's a fair question and our students deserve some honest, thoughtful answers. Yet, connecting challenging academics with real-world experience continues to be one of the biggest challenges we face in trying to better engage students in deeper learning and help them better understand how achieving today prepares them for lasting success tomorrow in further education and career.

Part of the problem is that professional development, both pre-service and in-service, does little to build teachers' understanding of how their discipline is used, singularly and in combination with others, to help solve problems and innovate beyond school walls. It's the rare geometry teacher who knows how architects, carpenters, bricklayers, and tile setters use the 3-4-5 triangle in construction technology. How many biology teachers can connect the electronics of the human cardiovascular system to the technology of electrocardiograms and other aspects of cardiology as practiced in contemporary medicine?

At ConnectEd, we're developing "integrated" curriculum and other tools to help academic teachers emphasize real-world applications for the content standards they're accountable for teaching. But we'd be the first to acknowledge that we're a long way from having a well-formulated strategy and the techniques teachers need to make credible and effective connections to real-world practice.

So as we begin this conversation about professional development to promote high quality student work, I hope we will hear from lots of you about how we can do this better. What are the priorities? Do we need specific examples of integrated curriculum, or are frameworks sufficient for teachers to develop their own approaches? Should we concentrate first on discipline-specific strategies (i.e., linking English language arts to agriculture and natural resources), or are multi-disciplinary approaches more useful? What exactly should professional development, especially for existing teachers, look like and why?

If these are not the right questions, tell us what the right ones are. Look forward to hearing from you!

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Bob Lenz's picture
Bob Lenz
Executive Director, Buck Institute for Education, Novato, CA

I think we need specific examples with of high quality integrated projects that come with all the materials a teacher needs to get started AND frameworks. We have teachers in a continuum of expertise in their practice.

Brian Burnett's picture
Brian Burnett
Training and Development: Instructional Design & Implementation | Project Management | Training & Facilitation | Videographer

The (The Pearson Foundation) has a new program that aligns well with this conversation topic which I am one of the co-leads along with Tiffany McGettigan. The "Model Classroom" program, as it's called, strives to create learning models of authentic, real-world opportunities for youth to develop essential 21st century skills. The Model Classroom program works directly with the CCSSO State Teacher of the Year alumni to implement projects with youth. The program begins with professional development workshops at the Smithsonian Institute in DC. These workshops focus on 21st century learning practices, taking ahands-on approach which forces teachers outside their classroom walls and into authentic, real-world learning experiences. Structured as a game, participating teachers collaborate to solve missions and challenges while utilizing community resources, new media tools, and each other. Throughout this active engagement, teachers develop solutions, then reflect on how their work process connects to 21st century learning opportunities for their own students. At the conclusion of the summer workshop, participating teachers design projects and practices that are challenge-based, collaborative, and make the most of real world learning. Select projects are chosen for implementation and support from the New Learning institute staff. The NLI staff provides support in developing curriculum, integrating the use of new media tools, and most importantly - ensuring that these projects challenge students to respond to real issues and have a voice within their schools and communities. Support is provided through the use of social networking communication and strategically planned school site visits. During this 2011-2012 program year, it's second year, NLI is supporting 14 projects across the U.S. Most importantly, Model Classroom teachers are advocates of new approaches to learning, and by developing successful strategies they help other educators adapt their work to their own schools and communities.

- Brian Burnett
Where Innovation & Technology meet Teaching & Learning
twitter: @BrianHBurnett

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