Providing the Flexibility to Implement Without All the Hassle of Customization.
Schools, districts, regional education offices, and state departments of education have used Pathways as a basis for their professional development efforts. The implementation examples below represent effective practices of a blend of online and face to face learning. We have found that these “hybrid” professional development models make the most impact on schools’ efforts to improve student achievement.
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A partnership was established between a university and some of the lowest performing schools in an urban setting with the goal of addressing the achievement gap. University faculty and K-12 classroom teachers enrolled as part of a joint team to explore and learn about strategies that would make a difference in their schools. These educators were particularly interested in 21st century literacies and tapping out-of-school literacy practices to engage students within the school setting. The teachers kicked off their experience with a summer institute and continue to work as a community within Pathways. The goal is to not only write lesson plans based on the teaching practices they are studying, but to also upload student work to critique and celebrate the successes along the way.
Listen in as Diane Waff and Lois McGee, Director of Integrated Instruction for Philadelphia School District share their insights on:
Pathways professional development programmings influence on students' achievement
Philadelphia school leaders talk about the value of the collaboration tools in Pathways and how that will be instrumental in achieving some of their district wide strategic plans.
the role of professional readings in Pathways to spark dialogue and change in their schools
the value of teacher collaboration and their use of 21st century tools in Pathways
A Rural Midwestern school wanted to bring in literacy expertise in the area of reading and general literacy strategies, but they didn’t have a lot of money and the English department was eight in total. They applied for and were awarded an Ed-Tech grant that allowed them to partner with NCTE for on-site support and coaching from an expert literacy consultant as well ongoing access to resources and strategies through Pathways. The Pathways content on best practices in literacy instruction aligned well with the district’s goal of improving reading comprehension at the high school, and the integration of content on 21st century literacies was a perfect match for the requirements of the Ed-Tech grant. Where are they now? At the end of year one they are preparing to present about their experience at the 2009 NCTE Annual Convention. They are currently applying for stimulus grant funds to continue their efforts of improving literacy instruction across the district. We expect amazing things from them during the 2009-2010 school year!
Listen in on a conversation between NCTE Literacy Consultant, Katie McKnight, and Effingham High School's Curriculum Director, Chelle Beck, as they discuss how they used and benefitted from Pathways as a component of the school's year-long professional development program.
"Highly Effective" Teachers and the Geographically Challenged State
A state department of education faced the challenge of providing professional development to teachers who have not achieved the status of “highly qualified” within a state where geography makes face to face workshops nearly impossible. Using Pathways Programs as the main curricular resource and platform for learning, they developed online coursework specific to this audience and the state’s intended needs. Elementary teachers worked through a rigorous online course in Pathways for 21st Century Literacies focusing on integrating balanced literacy, critical literacy, and digital Literacies within a 21st century curricular framework. Middle and high school teachers engaged with content from Pathways for Advancing Adolescent Literacy to examine the complex literacy needs of adolescent learners across the disciplines including teacher modeling, supporting collaborative work in the classroom, the role of language in students’ understanding, the role of vocabulary in comprehension, and integrating writing as a tool for learning. In both cases teachers had opportunities not only to learn about effective instructional strategies, but also to see those strategies in action with classroom examples. As they worked through the online courses teachers were expected to post reflections to the various resources and engage with classmates throughout the state and the instructors via the course discussion forum.
Literacy Leadership Teams—Capacity Building
Many districts and regional offices of education have been committed to building a capacity for literacy leadership that is then responsible for planning and possibly conducting school-based professional development. These systems have created multiyear implementation plans that include kicking off an intensive study with on-site expertise provided by literacy consultants followed by ongoing research and study in the Pathways learning community. They focus initially on bringing the learning experience to a core group of literacy leaders, and school-based teams follow, often just months behind, by enrolling teams of teachers in Pathways who will be led and supported by the literacy leaders. The leadership teams use Pathways as their main source for professional resources and often tap the classroom videos and on-demand web seminars to illustrate and break down the strategies and classroom practices they hope to see teachers implement in their classrooms. Participants are often required to create lesson plans based on these strategies and share them widely among their team members.
This may seem an odd label, but many of us have encountered the “yes, but” book study group. A group of colleagues comes together over a common book. In principle everyone seems to agree with the concepts and strategies being offered in the text; however, the conversation takes a turn as a colleague or two offers the names of students or classrooms where such ideas simply won’t work. By the end you’re left wondering if what was discussed made a difference in the classroom or simply resulted in a collegial conversation or a social event, but no changes in classroom practices.
The Pathways learning design breaks this cycle. Preselected professional readings on numerous topics are at the heart of the learning design, but it doesn’t stop there. With videos of what it looks like in real classrooms from across the disciplines, national discussions around key topics, and activities and tools to support instructional planning, the Pathways learning design ensures the conversation doesn’t stop at the abstract level.