Over the coming weeks, Powerful Learning Community teams will celebrate the end of their year-long professional development with a culminating celebration. The culminating events are a time to reflect upon the last year and for teams to present their action research projects to colleagues and share their visions for change.

Teams have spent months researching and surveying, analyzing and collaborating. Educators have taken the reins and they aren’t waiting for change to happen – they are making it happen. While the culminating events are held on-location, allowing a face-to-face meeting of teams, we also wanted to share some of the powerful ideas bubbling forth from these educators around North America.

Lights, Camera, Action Research! on May 24th at 8-10pm EDT is a chance for you to get a taste of what these teams have been cooking up, ask questions, and get ideas to take back to your school or district.

Speed Dating with Action Research

Presenters from each team will be organized into breakout groups with seven facilitators. Attendees will meet in the main room of Elluminate for introductions and a brief how-to from PLP co-founder, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach before moving into the first room of their choosing. You will spend 20 minutes in that room, learning more about the team’s action research, asking questions, and sharing in the back channel chat. Before you know it the timer will go off notifying you that it’s time to move to another room! Powerful Learning Practice staff will be on hand to help you manage any technical difficulties.

This is a high energy event in speed dating format where you will be able to self-select four of the seven presentations and move around from break out group to break out group in the webinar environment. This is not passive learning. This is a chance to learn about action research ideas while immersing yourself in a virtual learning environment and format that you can take away for modeling in your own district. Take a look below at the projects and educators you can learn more about at this free event:

Harkness 2.0

Presenters: Kari Ostrem, Sheamus Burns, Matt Campbell, Chris Cunningham, Len Miller, Eli (Elizabeth) Montes from The Lawrenceville School in Princeton, New Jersey.

The Lawrenceville School is an independent boarding school celebrating the 75th anniversary of Harkness teaching, a student-centered, discussion-based teaching method in which teacher and students learn collaboratively around a table. Our team experimented with how we might use web 2.0 technologies to complement and enhance traditional Harkness teaching. Our presentation will explore both the strengths and weaknesses of both old and new.

Developing Inventive Thinkers Across the Curriculum

Presenters: Danielle Cripe, Brenda Kelly, Mary Moore, Carolyn Place, Chris Preston from Nagel Middle School in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Inventive thinking in the 21st century requires that students are self-directed, curious, and possess sound reasoning. Five middle school teachers designed individual units of instruction that focused on developing inventive thinkers. The academic subjects represented were Social Studies, Language Arts, and Science. Results showed three themes in each of the units of instruction: Authentic Tasks, Student Ownership, and Connected Learning. Student, teacher, and community feedback was collected as well as student work samples.

Project-based Learning with the Gulf Oil Crisis

Presenters: Mary Senior, Michelle Moore, Deb Speese, Jill Lebiedzinski, and Monica Cholaj of St. Alphonsus School in Maple Glen, Pennsylvania.

The Crisis is the Gulf is an important topic to study because it affected the lives of many people and species. Through this project based learning experience, students were able to put themselves in the shoes of the shrimpers, environmentalists and workers at BP. There are many ways to incorporate the core standards into this project throughout education. Students were able to research, explore, invent bacteria and read about the Crisis happening in the Gulf. This PBL Unit offers lifelong learning and builds character in education because it was hands on and the students were thoroughly involved throughout.

Curriculum Connections Through the News

Presenters: Brad Kohlhepp, Carolyn Brown, Judy Dunn, Diana Frosch, Ky McNichol, Nicole Nolan, Terri Woodruff of St. Anastasia School in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania.

Our broad goal was to create a newscast that meets the following criteria: cross-curriculum and cross-grade. Our final project is a cohesive newscast that uses the curriculum to investigate real world situations. The students incorporate the following skills: both written and oral communication with peers and adults, organization and research skills, integration of technology into the curriculum, development and understanding for project based learning, and artistic expression.

Active Learning and a Community of Experts

Presenters: Chris Shriver, Dana Livne, Rachel Herlein, Lana Conte, Beth Ruekber and Renee Hawkins of Garrison Forest School in Owings Mills, Maryland.

In order to build a sustainable model to meet the professional development needs of a 21st century faculty, Garrison teachers need to embrace active learning and professional sharing. We define active learning as taking responsibility for one’s own process of learning, asking what do I need to know; where might I go to learn; how can I apply what I’m learning? We define professional sharing as being faculty-driven, with opportunities to discuss pertinent topics relevant to the interests and needs of faculty, sharing an expertise, a learning experience, or bringing back information from an outside professional development, opportunities to seek guidance or advice from colleagues. Huge challenges face today’s educators which can only be overcome with an intentional plan to develop as professionals through a Personal Learning Network and a Professional Learning Community. Operating from the principle of “you learn better what you can teach others,” Garrison teachers are moving to become a community of experts who can teach and share a variety of skills and expertise with one another. We believe we can set a high bar on our own and support one another in a collaborative, professional way to achieve our objectives.

Inspiring Connected Readers

Presenters: Lauri Brady, Katie Hartman, Matt Miller, Kristen Wertz, Jami Zimmerman of the Central York School District in Pennsylvania.

Walt Disney once said, “There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island.” The question is, how do we hook kids in the quest to find that treasure? The purpose of the “Inspiring Connected Readers” project is to improve student comprehension and metacognition through increased independent reading, reading response blogs, and collaboration between classrooms and across grade levels. Teachers involved in the project designed assessments and lessons that would help students explore a variety of genres and media, broaden and increase their independent reading selections, and encourage higher-order thinking and strategy use. Participating students used 21st century literacy skills to connect and engage in authentic book discussions and demonstrate their ability to be thoughtful and independent readers!

Capturing Learning with Video

Presenters: Alan Stange, Sophie Rosso, Keith Silversides, Marilyn Pavier, Kathy Cassidy of the Prairie South School District in Canada.

Five teachers, teaching between grades one and ten, are interested in using video to capture learning in their classrooms. They all want to be able to use video in some form to capture the learning of their students. The work flow to make this happen in their classrooms varies greatly because of their different teaching styles and the ages of their students. As students gain mastery they (and their teachers) discover new goals for themselves. This project is constructivist in nature and therefore is continually evolving.

Save the date: May 24th 8-10 p.m. ET (NYC time)

Elluminate room link: http://bit.ly/9Cvic0

We look forward to seeing you!

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Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice. She works with schools and districts from around the world helping them to infuse technology into their curriculums and by leading other digital conversion efforts. Sheryl also consults with governments, educational organizations and non-profits in development of their various professional learning initiatives. Sheryl is a sought-after presenter at national and international events, speaking on topics related to digital and online learning, teacher and educational leadership, online community building, and other educational issues impacting children of poverty. Sheryl served on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Board of Directors for six years. She co-authored The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age with Lani Ritter Hall. Sheryl has four children and four grandsons, Luke, Logan, Levi and Tanner and a trio of dachshunds. You can find out more on her blog and on Twitter @snbeach.

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