In a new report to Ontario, Great to Excellent: Launching the Next Stage of Ontario’s Education Agenda, Michael Fullan argues that we must leverage the capacity of pedagogical expertise that has been built since 2008. He also suggests that technology needs to be harnessed in order to achieve significantly higher results for our students. The Upper Grand District project aims to connect informal leaders throughout the School Board using technology. It will focus on having these leaders learn to share their expertise in instruction, through the use of evolving technologies, thus becoming visible leaders within the board. The Upper Grand board improvement plan identifies several high-leverage strategies to improve instruction in literacy and numeracy. These include developing Learning Goals and Success Criteria, giving Descriptive Feedback, harnessing Accountable Talk and Effective Questioning, Scaffolding lessons and teaching through a Problem Solving lens. Our project will aim to utilize these strategies as themes throughout the school year to promote comfort in using technology to share how these are being employed within the classroom. Initially, teachers will be introduced to technologies that they can use to share their classroom practice. These may include Twitter, a Ning, and/or a Google Group. They will explore how to use these technologies, how other teachers use them and how they can be utilized to share and improve practice within our Board. These technology forums will be moderated and teachers will be prompted, through online discussion questions on a regular basis, to share their practice through examples of literacy and numeracy instruction with the group. The end goal of this years’ project is to create a group of 15-20 teachers within our board that regularly share their practice, answer questions from colleagues, and offer resources and opinions as informal leaders within our District. If this goal is successful we would aim to increase the size of this group next year.
Professional Learning Program:
Informal leaders within the Board will be identified in the early fall by central Program staff. Ideally, these leaders are engaged in voluntary professional development opportunities and demonstrate a strong (but developing) understanding of research-based pedagogy in the areas of literacy and numeracy. These leaders will represent a variety of grades from the Primary, Junior and Intermediate divisions. We will use release time on four occasions throughout the year. In the early fall we will use the time to introduce the project in detail, introduce the technologies we will be using, and establish the framework for how teachers will develop a comfort level with these technologies. We will draw upon Board staff expertise to teach these technologies. Following the first release day we will moderate online discussion to promote use of the technologies and encourage teachers to share something from their classroom. We will then formalize the pedagogical themes for discussion and begin prompting discussion through questioning surrounding that theme, while also searching for tangible artifacts to be shared. During the second release day in late fall or early winter, we will draw upon Board expertise, as well as leaders from nearby boards, to explore the notion of visible leadership. During the third release day in late winter, we will present examples of visible leadership and innovation from leaders in surrounding districts. We will aim to highlight effective strategies in literacy and numeracy and how those strategies have been implemented and shared using technology. Throughout all of this time, online discussion and artifact sharing will be ongoing. The final release day will be in late Spring and will aim to consolidate learning, provide feedback on the year and provide direction for the following school year.
Upper Grand DSB - LC Project 2013-2014 Video