The ripple effect. That’s what Director of Technology Jason Kern of the Oakridge School calls what happened to the Powerful Learning Practice team this year.

“We had one person using tech…but now all six are involved in different ways all over campus,” he said. “We started conversations all over school.”

Jason feels one reason PLP worked is that they did not use the “in your face” approach. Instead, members of the team offered to share what they were learning, share what was working with other faculty around the school. Each last Friday of every month turned into a half day for professional development when teachers presented examples of their own learning.

The result of all this good work is evident on their wiki and in the plans for a summer “un-conference” -a bootcamp for independent school teachers.

“If what we thought was valuable was the time we spent together talking about teaching,” he said, “then why didn’t we expand that? Bring together independent schools and talk together about teaching and learning.” Thus, Summerspark was born.

“The focus will be on teaching,” Jason said. “The technology will run in the background.”

If all goes according to plan, 40-50 teachers will gather this summer to have those conversations. A planned round-table discussion with college admissions directors will connect the teachers with higher ed and help answer those questions about 21st century teaching.

If there was any challenge for the Oakridge team, it was having enough time. But Jason said once the philosophical discussions turned practical, his team became fully engaged and began to produce.

“The creation of projects sparked the conversation,” he said. “It’s the difference between theory and practical.” Many teachers are concrete and sequential, he said. Once that was mixed in, it worked.

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Susan Carter Morgan

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